Over the summer months, I am running some drop-in classes on a Monday at 09:30. If free and interested they start on Monday 1st July cost £6. Just click the link for more information and to book.
In a study of more than 1.2 million Americans, they discovered physical fitness is more important to your mental health than how much money you make. To be exact: exercisers are, on average, depressed 35 days a year; for non-active participants that number is 53 days. Researchers found that physically active adults self-report feeling depressed much less than couch potatoes. They point to the fact that exercise is correlated with numerous health benefits, including reduced risk of overall mortality, cardiovascular disease, obesity, stroke, and cancer. If you feel good, your perspective tends to follow.
I wanted to share this Ted talk, (19 mins long), by sleep scientist Matt Walker. Walker shares the wonderfully good things that happen when you get to sleep - and the alarmingly bad things that happen when you don't, for both your brain and body. Learn more about sleep's impact on your learning, memory, immune system and even your genetic code - as well as some helpful tips for getting some shut-eye.
Thought I would share as I'm certainly guilty of not sitting correctly when I'm working from home on my laptop ... If your work involves sitting a lot and using a computer, here are some tips, from the NHS, to help you sit correctly.
Just sharing for anyone who may find this relaxation audio useful. You are welcome to try this practice sitting at your desk, during a lunch break, in the morning before you start your day, or any other time when you need a little relaxation. Tour of the Senses Being mindful of the world around us naturally calms the mind. In this practice, we’ll use the senses – what we see, what we hear, and what we feel – to be mindful and to strengthen our ability to direct and sustain attention. Let’s start with the posture. Bring a light awareness to your body to begin here and sit upright in a comfortable posture. Now, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. As you breathe out, let your body and mind relax. Let your breathing return to normal and direct your attention to the sensations in your body. Notice any feelings of tension or feelings of ease and relaxation. Notice the feelings of the breath and any other sensations in the body. We’re not trying to feel any particular way here, just noticing – being curious about the sensations that are happening in the body. Next, bring attention to what sounds that are present right now. Don’t concentrate too intently. Just direct your attention to a sound and let your awareness relax into that sound. When the mind wanders off, gently bring it back. Direct your attention to whatever sounds are present and let the sound be an anchor for your attention. Now, you can gently open your eyes and direct your attention to what you see. Pick something in your visual field and rest your awareness on it. Again, don’t concentrate too intensely here. Let your mind be relaxed but still alert and attentive. Don’t worry if the mind gets distracted. When it does, bring it back to the object and start again. OK, now bring your attention back to the body. Gently close your eyes and direct your attention to the sensations in your abdomen. Sustain your attention to the feeling of movement in your abdomen as you breathe in and out. Now let go and rest in open awareness. Here you don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to pay attention or stop the mind from paying attention. You don’t have to control the mind in any way. Just notice what happens in this present moment. Next, bring awareness to the sounds that are present. Don’t try to force your mind to be still. Just retain a thread of awareness as you direct your attention to sound. For the last few moments, relax your attentional focus and rest in open awareness. Don’t worry about what’s happening in the mind. Just let what you see, hear, and feel wash over you. Just let your mind do whatever it naturally does but remain present and aware. OK, that’s it. Before you continue on with your day, set a clear intention to keep practising. You can use any object of the senses to strengthen mindfulness and your capacity to direct and sustain attention. The key is to practice in short moments, many times throughout your day. (Source: Centre for Healthy Minds)
Research proves that the right friendships can make you happier and the people you surround yourself with impact your habits–both good and bad. Having positive friends helps you live longer and makes your brain work better.
The hug, specifically, has been repeatedly linked to good health. In a study that made headlines about hugs helping the immune system, researchers led by the psychologist Sheldon Cohen at Carnegie Mellon University isolated 400 people in a hotel and exposed them to a cold virus. People who had supportive social interactions had fewer and less severe symptoms. Physical touch, (specifically hugging), seemed to account for about a third of that effect. The researchers conclude: 'These data suggest that hugging may act as an effective means of conveying support'.
Running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression, according to a recent study. It may be possible to outrun depression, according to a study published online January 23 by JAMA Psychiatry. 'We saw a 26% decrease in odds for becoming depressed for each major increase in objectively measured physical activity," says study author Karmel Choi, a clinical and research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. 'This increase in physical activity is what you might see on your activity tracker if you replaced 15 minutes of sitting with 15 minutes of running or one hour of sitting with one hour of moderate activity like brisk walking'. Cause or effect? This isn't the first study to show that exercise may benefit mood. But until now it's largely been something of a chicken-and-egg discussion — which came first? 'We hear a lot that exercise and mood are connected. What we don't know for sure is whether being physically active can improve emotional well-being, or if we simply move less when we feel sad or depressed', says Choi. This study aimed to find out. 'We wanted to see if there might be a causal connection, in either direction, between physical activity and depression,' says Choi. 'Does physical activity protect against depression? Or does depression simply reduce physical activity? Our study allowed us to untangle those questions in a powerful new way using genetic data'. Study technique To do this, the study applied a technique known as Mendelian randomization, using data from two large genetic databases that included hundreds of thousands of people. Having access to genetic data allowed researchers to use genetic variations between people as a kind of natural experiment to better see how exercise affects depression, and vice versa say, Choi. What they found is that exercise was able to independently reduce the risk of depression. People who moved more, they found, had a significantly lower risk for the major depressive disorder — but only when the exercise was measured objectively using a tracking device, not when people self-reported how much exercise they performed. Identifying types of movement People are not always accurate when it comes to assessing or keeping track of how much they're truly moving. 'We see in the research literature that objective and self-reported measures of physical activity don't always line up', says Choi. 'Objective measures offer unique perks because they don't rely on people's memory and are not affected by people wanting to present themselves in a certain way'. In addition, the tracking device was better at assessing overall movement. It didn't just give people credit for formal exercise. It also measured how much they moved throughout the day during ordinary activities. 'This can include taking the stairs or walking to the store or putting away laundry, things that people may not recognize as being active but may add up', says Choi. This is good news because it means you don't need to be huffing and puffing on a stair machine to reduce your risk of depression. Little movements add up 'What our study would say is that any kind of movement can add up to keep depression at bay. I think that's why our study findings were especially appealing. It didn't say you have to run a marathon, do hours of aerobics, or be a CrossFit master just to see benefits on depression', says Choi. So, the message is this: If you do love a good, hearty gym workout, keep going. But if you don't, just getting off the couch and moving for a little while can help. Ideally, to prevent depression you should do at least 15 minutes a day of higher-intensity exercises, such as running, or at least an hour of lower-intensity exercise, such as walking or housework. 'Intentionally moving your body in more gentle ways throughout the day — like walking, stretching, taking the stairs, doing the dishes — can still add up in good ways for your mood. I think that's an encouraging message', says Choi. (Source: Harvard Health)