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5 ways to hold on to optimism — and reap health benefits

We came across this great article by Harvard Health and wanted to share it with you.  Fantastic affirmation of the work we already do here at Cherish Healing!

In these turbulent times, it may be a struggle to maintain a glass half full view of life. A poll just released by the Associated Press on New Year’s Day indicated that most Americans came out of 2016 feeling pretty discouraged. Only 18% feel things for the country got better, 33% said things got worse, and 47% believe things were unchanged from 2015.

However, 55% of those surveyed said they expect their own lives to improve in 2017. If you are among this majority, it may serve you well. A growing body of research indicates that optimism — a sense everything will be OK — is linked to a reduced risk of developing mental or physical health issues as well as to an increased chance of a longer life.

One of the largest such studies was led by researchers Dr. Kaitlin Hagan and Dr. Eric Kim at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Their team analyzed data from 70,000 women in the Nurses’ Health Study, and found that women who were optimistic had a significantly reduced risk of dying from several major causes of death over an eight-year period, compared with women who were less optimistic. The most optimistic women had a 16% lower risk of dying from cancer; 38% lower risk of dying from heart disease; 39% lower risk of dying from stroke; 38% lower risk of dying from respiratory disease; and 52% lower risk of dying from infection.

Yes, you can acquire optimism.

Even if you consider yourself a pessimist, there’s hope. Dr. Hagan notes that a few simple changes can help people improve your outlook on life. Previous studies have shown that optimism can be instilled by something as simple as having people think about the best possible outcomes in various areas of their lives,” she says. The following may help you see the world through rosier glasses:

1. Accentuate the positive. Keep a journal. In each entry, underline the good things that have happened, as well as things you’ve enjoyed and concentrate on them. Consider how they came about and what you can do to keep them coming.

2. Eliminate the negative. If you find yourself ruminating on negative situations, do something to short-circuit that train of thought. Turn on your favorite music, reread a novel you love, or get in touch with a good friend.

3. Act locally. Don’t fret about your inability to influence global affairs. Instead, do something that can make a small positive change — like donating clothes to a relief organization, helping clean or replant a neighborhood park, or volunteering at an after-school program.

4. Be easier on yourself. Self-compassion is a characteristic shared by most optimists. You can be kind to yourself by taking good care of your body, eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep. Take stock of your assets and concentrate on them. Finally, try to forgive yourself for past transgressions (real or imagined) and move on.

5. Learn mindfulness. Adopting the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment and accepting it without judgment can go a long way in helping you deal with unpleasant events. If you need help, many health centers now offer mindfulness training. There are also a multitude of books and videos to guide you.

Or click here for you free online meditation

 

 

 

Thanks to Beverly MerzExecutive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

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Harvard Article | 6 Ways to Snack Smarter

I enjoy a little snack every now and then and,so  when I came across this article I though I'd share with you! 

Here are their 6 tips for smarter snacking.

  1. Bring back breakfast. Many breakfast foods can be repurposed as a nutritious snack later in the day. 
  2. Try a "high-low" combination. Combine a small amount of something with healthy fat, like peanut butter, with a larger amount of something very light, like apple slices or celery sticks.
  3. Go nuts. Unsalted nuts and seeds make great snacks. Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, roasted pumpkin seeds, cashews, hazelnuts, filberts, and other nuts and seeds contain many beneficial nutrients and are more likely to leave you feeling full (unlike chips or pretzels). Nuts have lots of calories, though, so keep portion sizes small.
  4. The combo snack. Try to have more than just one macronutrient (protein, fat, carbohydrate) at each snacking session. For example, have a few nuts (protein and fat) and some grapes (carbohydrates). Or try some whole-grain crackers (carbohydrate) with some low-fat cheese (protein and fat). These balanced snacks tend to keep you feeling satisfied.
  5. Snack mindfully. Don't eat your snack while doing something else — like surfing the Internet, watching TV, or working at your desk. Instead, stop what you're doing for a few minutes and eat your snack like you would a small meal.
  6. Take it with you. Think ahead and carry a small bag of healthful snacks in your pocket or purse so you won't turn in desperation to the cookies at the coffee counter or the candy bars in the office vending machine.

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Harvard Article : Looking after your eye health

I remember wearing my mum's glasses as a child thinking how cool they were. I was less impressed when I found myself needing glasses for short sightedness.  This lasted for a few years before I decided to get laser eye surgery .  I'm still mindful of eye health and so wanted to share this Harvard Article on Eye health, enjoy!

'Of your five senses, which one are you most afraid of losing? If you're like most people, your answer is your ability to see. Because our eyesight is so precious, it's no wonder that myths abound about what can damage our eyes — and what can protect them. Here, we debunk five common myths — and tell you how to truly keep your eyes healthy.

Myth: Doing eye exercises will delay the need for glasses.

Fact: Eye exercises will not improve or preserve vision or reduce the need for glasses. Your vision depends on many factors, including the shape of your eyeball and the health of the eye tissues, neither of which can be significantly altered with eye exercises.

Myth: Reading in dim light will worsen your vision.

Fact: Dim lighting will not damage your eyesight. However, it will tire your eyes out more quickly. The best way to position a reading light is to have it shine directly onto the page, not over your shoulder. A desk lamp with an opaque shade pointing directly at the reading material is ideal.

Myth: Carrots are the best food for the eyes.

Fact: Carrots, which contain vitamin A, are indeed good for the eyes. But fresh fruits and dark green leafy vegetables, which contain more antioxidant vitamins such as C and E, are even better. Antioxidants may even help protect the eyes against cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Just don't expect them to prevent or correct basic vision problems such as nearsightedness or farsightedness.

Myth: It's best not to wear glasses or contact lenses all the time. Taking a break from them allows your eyes to rest.

Fact: If you need glasses or contacts for distance or reading, use them. Not wearing your glasses will strain your eyes and tire them out instead of resting them. However, it will not worsen your vision or lead to eye disease.

Myth: Staring at a computer screen all day is bad for the eyes.

Fact: Using a computer does not damage your eyes. However, staring at a computer screen all day can contribute to eyestrain or tired eyes. People who stare at a computer screen for long periods tend not to blink as often as usual, which can cause the eyes to feel dry and uncomfortable.  To help prevent eyestrain, adjust the lighting so it doesn't create a glare or harsh reflection on the screen, rest your eyes briefly every 20 minutes, and make a conscious effort to blink regularly so that your eyes stay well lubricated.

 

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What is the GI Index?

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What is the GI Index?

I came across this harvard article and it help clear a few things up for me.  It came with a useful index list too.  I hope you enjoy the article.

 

If you have diabetes, you probably know you need to monitor your carbohydrate intake. But different carbohydrate-containing foods affect blood sugar differently, and these effects can be quantified by measures known as the glycemic index and glycemic load. You might even have been advised to use these numbers to help plan your diet. But what do these numbers really mean — and just how useful are they?

What these numbers measure

The glycemic index (GI) assigns a numeric score to a food based on how drastically it makes your blood sugar rise. Foods are ranked on a scale of 0 to 100, with pure glucose (sugar) given a value of 100. The lower a food's glycemic index, the slower blood sugar rises after eating that food. In general, the more cooked or processed a food is, the higher its GI, and the more fiber or fat in a food, the lower its GI.

But the glycemic index tells just part of the story. What it doesn't tell you is how high your blood sugar could go when you actually eat the food. To understand a food's complete effect on blood sugar, you need to know both how quickly it makes glucose enter the bloodstream and how much glucose it can deliver. A separate measure called the glycemic load does both — which gives you a more accurate picture of a food's real-life impact on your blood sugar. Watermelon, for example, has a high glycemic index (80). But a serving of watermelon has so little carbohydrate that its glycemic load is only 5.

Should you eat a low-GI diet?

Some nutrition experts believe that people with diabetes should pay attention to both the glycemic index and glycemic load to avoid sudden spikes in blood sugar. The American Diabetes Association, on the other hand, says that the total amount of carbohydrate in a food, rather than its glycemic index or load, is a stronger predictor of what will happen to blood sugar. And some dietitians also feel that focusing on the glycemic index and load adds an unneeded layer of complexity to choosing what to eat. 

The bottom line? Following the principles of low-glycemic-index eating is likely to be beneficial for people with diabetes. But reaching and staying at a healthy weight is more important for your blood sugar and your overall health.

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Harvard Medical School: 4 tips to boost your energy

1. Pace yourself. If you're a go-getter, you probably like to keep going — but don't risk overtaxing yourself. For example, instead of burning through all your "battery life" in two hours, spread it out among morning tasks, afternoon tasks, and evening activities — with rest and meals in between.

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Harvard Medical School - Pain in the Neck - The 7 faces of Neck pain

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Harvard Medical School - Pain in the Neck - The 7 faces of Neck pain

 

Harvard wrote this article about neck pain and it rang a bell for me and many of my clients. Always check in with your doctor if you are worried about pain.

Here are the most common types of neck pain.

  1. Muscle pain. Aching or sore neck and shoulder muscles may occur in response to overexertion or prolonged physical or emotional stress. The neck muscles may develop hard knots that are tender to the touch, sometimes called trigger points.
  2. Muscle spasm. This is a sudden, powerful tightening of neck muscles. Your neck may hurt and feel tight or knotted, and it may be impossible to turn your head. When you wake up with a painful, stiff neck, that's likely a muscle spasm. Muscle spasm can result from a muscle injury, but it may also occur in response to a spinal disc or nerve problem, or even emotional stress. However, there is often no clear cause.
  3. Headache. Neck-related headache is most often felt in the back of the head and upper neck and is usually the result of muscle tension or spasm. Neck-related headache pain is usually dull or aching, rather than sharp; the neck might also feel stiff or tender. Moving your neck makes it worse.
  4. Facet joint pain. Often described as deep, sharp, or aching, pain in the facet joints (part of the vertebrae of the neck) typically worsens if you lean your head toward the affected side, and may radiate to your shoulder or upper back. Arthritis in the facet joints, as in other locations, may feel worse in the morning or after a period of inactivity.
  5. Nerve pain. Irritation or pinching of the roots of the spinal nerves causes pain that may be sharp, fleeting, severe, or accompanied by pins and needles. Depending on the nerve involved, the pain may shoot down the arm or even into the hand.
  6. Referred pain. Referred pain is pain in one part of the body that is triggered by a problem in another part of the body. For example, neck pain that worsens with exertion may indicate a heart problem, while neck pain that occurs when you eat may stem from a problem in the esophagus.
  7. Bone pain. Pain and tenderness in the cervical vertebrae are far less common than neck pain from the soft tissues. Bone pain needs medical attention because it may signal a more serious health problem.

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