Mindfulness And Calming Your Thoughts

 

 

 

 

In the rush to accomplish necessary tasks and manage our daily lives, we often find ourselves losing our connection with the present moment—missing out on what we are doing and how we are feeling. Did you notice whether you felt well-rested this morning or that your new rose bloomed today? You can improve your life with simple mindfulness practices.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing our attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness is now being examined scientifically and has been found to be a key element in stress reduction and overall happiness.

It generally involves a heightened awareness of sensory stimuli (really noticing your breathing, feeling the sensations of your body, etc.) and being “in the moment.”

While mindfulness has origins in Eastern philosophy, there is no necessary religious component to mindfulness. Anyone with any belief system can enjoy the benefits of mindfulness.

What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness?

Increasing our capacity for mindfulness supports many attitudes that contribute to a satisfied life. Being mindful makes it easier to savor the pleasures in life as they occur, helps us to become fully engaged in activities, and creates a greater capacity to deal with adverse events. By focusing on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past, are less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem, and are better able to form deep connections with others.

If greater well-being isn’t enough of an incentive, scientists have discovered that mindfulness techniques help improve physical health in a number of ways. Mindfulness can help relieve stress, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain,  improve sleep, and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties.

Even an informal approach to mindfulness can help us to stay in the present and fully participate in life. You can choose any task or moment to practice informal mindfulness, whether you are eating, showering, walking, or playing with a child.

An Informal Approach to Mindfulness

  • Start by bringing your attention to the sensations in your body
  • Breathe in through your nose, allowing the air downward into your lower belly. Let your abdomen expand fully.
  • Now breathe out through your mouth
  • Notice the sensations of each inhalation and exhalation
  • Proceed with the task at hand slowly and with full deliberation
  • Engage your senses fully. Notice each sight, touch, and sound so that you savor every sensation.
  • When you notice that your mind has wandered from the task at hand, gently bring your attention back to the sensations of the moment.

Mindful tea-drinking practice

Frequently, even short periods of meditation can seem overwhelming at first. So bringing mindfulness to everyday activities such as drinking a cup of tea is a gentle way to begin. It’s also a helpful way to develop your practice. Below are a few suggestions on how to practice mindful tea-drinking.

1. Be open to your senses, rather than try to analyze what’s happening as you prepare the water for tea-making.

2. Notice the feeling of being in your environment.

3. When your mind wanders into thought, as it probably will, gently return your attention to sensing.

4. Be aware of your sensations and the liking or disliking of them. If there are thoughts, let them enter into and then pass through your mind without following them. Try to stay with the tea tasting. Notice without judgement any desire to rush the drinking, and any impatience that comes.

5. Bring gentle awareness to whatever emerges. Becoming conscious of how much the mind wanders is a sign of growing awareness. Be open to the spirit of the practice, sensing with gentle precision what’s happening, moment by moment, and coming back to sensing whenever you notice you’ve drifted into thought.

The key is understanding what drives your patterns of behavior and then learn how to shift them to serve you instead of holding you back.

Focus on the present and quiet that voice inside – the one that offers the running commentary on what you’re doing, what you’ve done, and what you will be doing. When we focus on fulfillment over achievement, we will enjoy the journey.

 

Interpreting Your Blood Pressure

HOW TO INTERPRET YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE

Blood pressure is the pressure of your blood on the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps it around your body. It’s an important part of how the circulation of your blood and your heart works. Your blood pressure doesn’t stay constant throughout the day. It is lowest when you’re at rest (e.g. sleeping) , and rises when you get up and start being physically active. It can also go up when you are elated, happy, stressed, nervous depending on your emotions.

What do the numbers mean?

It is everyone’s desire to have a healthy, “normal” blood pressure. But what exactly does that mean? When a medical professional takes your blood pressure, it’s expressed as a measurement with two numbers, with one number on top and one on the bottom, like a fraction. For example, 120/80.

The top number refers to the amount of pressure in your arteries during contraction of your heart muscle. This is called systolic pressure. The bottom number refers to your blood pressure when your heart muscle is between beats. This is called diastolic pressure. Both numbers are important in determining the state of your heart.

If you have higher numbers than the ideal range, that would be an indication that your heart is working too hard to pump blood to the rest of your body.

Blood pressure readings: What’s normal and when is it high blood pressure?

A healthy blood pressure reading should ideally be lower than 120/80 mmHg. Normal blood pressure is less than 120 mmHg systolic and 80 mmHg diastolic (see blood pressure chart below), and may vary from 90/60mmHg to 120/80mmHg in a healthy young woman. However, a blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or higher indicates high blood pressure.

Categories for blood pressure levels

Categories for Blood Pressure Levels in Adults (Aged 18 Years and Older)
Blood Pressure Level (mmHg)
Category Systolic Diastolic
Normal BP < 120 and < 80
High-Normal BP 130 or 80 – 89
High Blood Pressure
Stage 1 Hypertension 140 – 159 or 90 – 99
Stage 2 Hypertension 160 or 100
* Isolated Systolic Hypertension > 140 and < 90

 

Notes:​

  1. When systolic and diastolic blood pressures fall into different categories, the higher category should be used to classify blood pressure level. For example, 160/80 mmHg would be stage 2 hypertension (high blood pressure).
  2. ​*Isolated systolic hypertension is graded according to the same level of systolic BP.

Measuring blood pressure at home

Can you measure your own blood pressure? Of course, you can. You can measure your own blood pressure at home with a digital blood pressure device that can be purchased at most pharmacies. One should carefully read all instructions. To find out if you have made correct reading, you may wish to calibrate it with your family doctor. Remember to take note of your readings most especially if you have higher measurements. When is the best time to take the measurement? It should be when you are at rest.

Here are some tips that will help in ensuring the accuracy of your blood pressure reading:

  • Sit in a comfortable position
  • Place your left arm, raised to the level of your heart, on a table or desk
  • Wrap the cuff of the monitor smoothly and snugly around the upper part of your bare arm.

Some Points to Ponder

Keeping your blood pressure in the normal range is crucial in preventing complications, such as heart disease and stroke. A combination of healthy lifestyle habits and medications can help lower your blood pressure. Weight loss is also important in keeping your numbers down.

Remember that a single blood pressure reading doesn’t necessarily classify your health in stone. Blood pressure readings taken over time are the most accurate. This is why it’s ideal to have your blood pressure taken by a healthcare professional at least once a year, or more often if your readings are high.

HOW TO PREVENT FALLS IN ELDERLY

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Falls In Elderly Account For 70% of Accidental Deaths in Older Population

A fall can change your life. Falls in elderly can lead to disability and a loss of independence.  Falls can cause physical and financial devastation. It’s critical to assess older adults’ strength, balance, and mobility to determine individual fall risk and educate all about fall prevention. The risk and frequency of falls increase with age and can lead to death.

A single fall is not always a sign of a major problem. The fall may simply be an isolated event. However, recurrent falls, defined as more than two falls in a six-month period, should be evaluated by a healthcare professional for treatable causes. Each year, millions of older people—those 65 and older—fall and less than half report this to their doctor.  Falling once doubles your chances of falling again.

Risk Factors for Falls In Elderly

A risk factor is something that increases a person’s risk or susceptibility to a medical problem or disease.

As the number of risk factors rises, so does the risk of falling. Many falls in elderly are linked to a person’s physical condition or a medical problem, such as a chronic disease. Other causes could be safety hazards in the person’s home or community environment. Here are the most important risk factors in the elderly that lead to falls:

  1.  Low blood pressure
  2. Vitamin D deficiency
  3. Medications and/or alcohol
  4. Vision problems
  5. Foot problems or footwear
  6. Fear of falling
  7. Home hazards
  8. Hypoglycemia
  9. Seizures
  10. Cognitive impairment
  11. Sensory deficits

Make Safety A Habit

Although falls can happen anywhere, well over half of all falls in elderly happen at home. Falls at home often happen while a person is doing normal daily activities. Some of these falls are caused by factors in the person’s living environment.

Other factors that can lead to falls at home include
  • loose rugs
  • clutter on the floor or stairs
  • carrying heavy or bulky things up or down stairs
  • not having stair railings
  • not having grab bars in the bathroom

Here are improvements to make in your living environment to improve your safety and prevent falls in elderly:

An important step toward preventing falls at home is to remove anything that could cause a trip or slip while walking. Tripping on clutter, small furniture, pet bowls, electrical or phone cords, or other things can cause a fall.  Slipping on rugs or slick floors can also cause falls.

Arrange furniture to allow plenty of room to walk freely. Also remove items from stairs, hallways, and pathways.

Be sure that carpets are secured to the floor and stairs. Remove throw rugs, use non-slip rugs, or attach rugs to the floor with double-sided tape.

Put non-slip strips on floors of bathtub and shower.

Be careful when walking outdoors and avoid going out alone on ice or snow. A simple slip on a slick sidewalk, a curb, or icy stairs could result in a serious injury.

During the winter, ask someone to spread sand or salt on icy surfaces. Be sure to wear boots with good traction if you must go out when it snows. Better yet, don’t take chances walking on icy or slippery surfaces.

Poor lighting — inside and outdoors — can increase your risk of falls. Make sure you have enough lighting in each room, at entrances, and on outdoor walkways.

 Good lighting on stairways is especially important. Light switches at both the top and bottom of stairs can help.

Place a lamp within easy reach of your bed. Put night lights in the bathroom, hallways, bedroom, and kitchen. Also keep a flashlight by your bed in case the power is out and you need to get up.

 Have handrails installed on both sides of stairs and walkways. If you must carry something while walking up or down stairs, hold the item in one hand and use the handrail with the other.

Properly placed grab bars in your tub and shower, and next to the toilet, can help to avoid falls.  Have grab bars installed, and use them every time you get in and out of the tub or shower. Be sure the grab bars are securely attached to the wall.

In addition to these recommendations, click here for a checklist to prevent or minimize falls in elderly.

 

 

 

Back To School Healthy Lunchbox Ideas

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Back to School Healthy Lunchbox Ideas

A healthy lunch keeps active kids alert and focused and gives them the nutrition they need every day as they go back to school. But no matter how healthy your child’s lunch box is, it won’t provide any nutritional value if it doesn’t get eaten! Every mom or dad who makes lunches for kids knows the goals: avoid total jettisoning of lunch into trash by picky eater and hope your child doesn’t trade healthy apple for can of soda!

Ensure you include a range of fresh fruit and vegetables and vary the food daily so kids don’t become bored soon after going back to school.

Top tips for a healthy lunch box-
• Always include fresh fruit and vegetables.  Vary the selection to keep it interesting.
• Offer a variety of whole grain breads, rolls, pita bread and flat breads.
• Use avocado as a spread instead of butter or margarine or mayo.
• Use reduced fat dairy foods. Cheese and greek yoghurt are ideal.
• Kids need a serve of protein at lunchtime. Ensure you include lean meat, egg, peanut butter, chickpeas or tuna.
• Add a chilled bottle of water and limit juice.

Keep it fresh – packing the lunchbox 

Pack the school lunch in an insulated lunch box and include a small freezer brick or freeze a bottle of water and pop it into the lunchbox to keep food cool.

Helpful tips for adding fresh fruit and vegetables to lunch boxes
• Kids like fresh fruit cut and ready to eat.  Fruit salad is the ideal lunch box solution; it’s colourful, easy to eat and bursting with vitamins. Try a fruit kebob for fun and variety.
• Freeze fruits in the summer or for sport days.  Simply pop the frozen fruit into a small sealable plastic bag or airtight container.
• If including whole fruit in the lunchbox, select fruit that is a suitable size for a child to easily hold in their hand and eat (this is particulary important for younger children).
• Peel and slice or cut fruit if possible and choose seedless varieties, when available.
• If you’ve added tomato to sandwiches, place the tomato between fillings and not directly onto the bread.  This prevents the bread becoming soggy.
• When using avocado, mash or drizzle with a little lemon or lime juice to prevent the avocado from discolouring.
• A mild tasting and crunchy lettuce variety like Iceberg  is ideal for kids.
• Add leftover (or cook extra) roast pumpkin or sweet potato to sandwiches, wraps and roll fillings.  Naturally sweet and loaded with beneficial antioxidants, roast vegetables team well with a range of fillings.
• Make salads or salad sandwich fillings interesting by using a range of vegetables like grated carrot, snow pea sprouts, lettuce or rocket or baby spinach, sliced celery, tomatoes, avocado and cucumber.

When kids help pack their lunch, they’re more likely to eat that lunch! On nights you have a bit more time, like Sundays, have them choose which piece of fruit or what type of whole grain bread they want and let them assemble their lunch. Make this a weekly routine – it’s another great way to spend family time together.

 

Choosing The Best Primary Care Physician

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What is a Primary Care Physician?

In the past people relied on “family doctors” to take care of health issues ranging from births to broken bones to the flu. These family doctors treated everyone from the youngest to the oldest in the family and therefore had a clear medical family history. Primary Care Physicians (PCP) bring us back to that tradition.

Many people wait until they are sick to reach out for medical care and even use emergency rooms as health clinics. The downside to this is that they are always starting over in their healthcare journey.

Here is a list of reasons WHY you need a Primary Care Physician:

  1. Higher level of comfort for you working with someone who knows your history.
  2. Detecting health issues early-a PCP tracks your health with you and is watchful for changes
  3. Better chronic disease management
  4. Routine screenings
  5. Decrease emergency room visits
  6. Better patient-provider communication
  7. Transparency of ENTIRE health history
  8. Preventive medical care
  9. Referral to medical specialists, as needed

Annual exams may help your PCP guide you toward healthy lifestyle habits that may decrease the likelihood that you’ll need expensive specialty care. Choosing a PCP is one of the most important decisions that you will make for your healthcare journey. More people than ever are now searching for a physician they can call their own.

Research suggests that people who have a strong relationship with a physician not only report greater satisfac­tion with their care but also may enjoy better health. Having good communication and col­lab­oration with the doctor who oversees your care can help to avoid common problems, such as getting duplicative or contradictory treatments from a legion of specialists.

If you have a choice of insurance plans, you may want to first think about which Primary Care Physician you would like to use. Then, you may be able to choose a plan that has your choice.

Learn how to choose your primary care physician! Learn more here!