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7 Signs your body needs a break

Metrosmag,SA

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We know, something strangely exhilarating about downing a latte at 7 a.m., running to back-to-back meetings, putting out office fires and responding to emails from bed at midnight. But as nice as it is to feel busy, a person’s body can only handle so much before it crashes. “Stress is killing you by shortening your lifespan and quality of life, but yet it makes you feel important,” says Belisa Vranich. “When you have nothing to do for too long, you feel like you are missing out. There’s a voice in your head that calls you lazy.” But slowing down most definitely doesn’t mean you’re lazy. We all need sleep, proper meals, exercise and some downtime to stay healthy. Here are some telltale signs that your body needs to take a breather.

1. You’re always tired.

Fatigue is perhaps the most common symptom of overworking yourself.Stress increases bodily hormones that rev us up, so to speak, resulting in increased fatigue and desire for sleep,” says Linda Anegawa.  And although you might be exhausted, stress can cause you to lie in bed wide awake at night thinking about your job, bills, family—you name it.

2. You’re forgetful.

If you find yourself zoning out during a meeting or in the middle of a conversation, it could mean that you’re so overwhelmed that your brain has resorted to “snoozing” while you’re at work just to get a break.

3. You’re always getting sick.

If it takes you awhile to recover from a cold or flu, or you get sick frequently, stress could be the culprit. It impairs the body’s immune system and can make you more susceptible to catching that nasty cold going around your office.

4. You’re not living in the present.

Stress may cause you to feel nostalgic about the simple times you once had or dream about a more relaxed life in the future, Vranich says. If you find yourself daydreaming about yesterday and tomorrow, this can be a sign that you need to slow down and enjoy today. Breaaathe.

5. Your stomach is uneasy.

If you’ve ever felt sick over a situation, you know that your emotions can cause a ton of digestive issues that make for a super-unpleasant workday. The brain and gastrointestinal system are so deeply connected, in fact, that they should be viewed as one system, according to Harvard Health Publications.

6. You’re losing hair.

In need of a lint roller or plumber for your clogged shower drain? Stress is one of the most common reasons for hair loss and can even lead to long-term loss if your on-the-go lifestyle continues.

7. Your body aches. 

High levels of stress can cause tight muscles, especially in the back and shoulders. It may cause spasms and headaches, too. No fun!

So how do you fight the inclination to run on empty all the time? “The most important thing is to try to do a lot of ‘preventative maintenance’ to make sure you don’t get so stressed out you show these signs,” Spalding says. “Regularly exercising, eating well, staying hydrated, sleeping enough and getting enough love and support from friends and family are all important [for] a balanced life that allows you to roll with the punches.”

Metrosmag,sa ( inspired by Mzansi Lifestyle ) Mzansi is rich in Lifestyle, a nation diverse in race and culture. Mzansi Magazine explores the rich heritage , versitile culture and the celebrations of Life in Mzansi. Metros Magazine, SA is South Africa's informative Metropolitan lifestlye magazine with all the fresh and important news in Mzansi.

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Health & Fitness

Hoe to beat a headache without resorting to painkillers

Metrosmag,SA

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One in 50 of us suffer ‘rebound headaches’ because we pop too many painkillers over a long time, says the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

Medical advice is to take them no more than two days a week. Here are ways to ease the pain without tablets.

1 Take your thumb for a walk over your big toe

In reflexology, your big toe relates to your head – and applying pressure on it is said to help ease headaches and migraines.

Denise Whichello Brown, author of The Reflexology Healing Bible, says: “Thumb-walk from the outer edge of the base of the big toe up the outside, over the top and down the inside. Then thumb-walk up the back of the big toe from the base to the tip.”

 

2 Tennis balls advantage

Take two and place them side by side in a sock so they’re in a ‘peanut shape’. Now lie on your back and place the balls where your head meets your neck.

Slowly tuck your chin down towards your chest as if nodding and repeat for one minute as the balls massage the neck.

Then move your head from side to side as if saying no. This helps soothe the suboccipital muscles that are a major cause of tension headache pain.

3 Gulp a glass of water

A headache may be a sign that your body needs more water. Some experts say even when you’re mildly to moderately dehydrated the blood vessels in the brain narrow in an attempt to regulate body fluid levels – causing the pain of a headache.

So, if you think you haven’t drunk enough water during the day, glug a glass.

4 Eat something

Going too long without eating can trigger a headache. Alexis Poole, registered nutritionist at Spoon Guru ( spoon.guru ) says: “In your body, your brain requires the most energy to function. If glucose levels drop too low, it’s one of the first areas affected and a headache can be a symptom.”

You should aim to eat healthy, balanced meals at regular times, but if you’re out of routine keep healthy snacks handy. Try wholegrain oatcakes, a banana or natural yogurt with fruit.

5 Have a cup of cayenne

Lily Soutter, nutritionist at Nuffield Health ( nuffieldhealth.com ) says: “Capsaicin is the active ingredient in cayenne pepper – and it’s been shown to bring pain relief to migraine sufferers. It works by desensitizing nerve endings.

“A quick and easy way to consume cayenne pepper? Mix 1 teaspoon with lemon juice in a cup of warm water and drink.”

6 Nod your head

Lots of headaches are caused by tension in the neck muscles (often the result of sleeping awkwardly or hunching at your desk all day)

Gentle neck stretches can ease muscle tightness and help ease the pain. Try the Head Nod.

“Drop your head down, tucking the chin in towards the upper chest,” says Lexie Williamson, author of The Stretching Bible. “Lift your head and look slightly up. Continue to nod your head slowly and smoothly.”

7 Turn off your computer

Too much screen time can lead to ‘computer vision syndrome’ – with symptoms including dry, burning eyes and headaches.

Bhavin Shah, behavioural optometrist at centralvisionopticians.co.uk , says: “Some people also have an underlying difficulty where the eyes have reduced stamina for focusing or working together. Others may simply need glasses – so see your optician.

“Taking a 15-20 minute break every 50 minutes will make a huge difference to headaches and eye strain. And remember the 20-20-20 rule – look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.”

8 Slip on sunglasses

“Bright sunlight and glare from reflected sunlight can trigger migraines and headaches in some people,” says Bhavin. “Look for polarised sunglasses that have special filters which block glare.

9 Focus on other body bits

“Often when you have a headache you can become entirely focused on the discomfort and this can make things worse,” says integrative health expert David James Lees ( wuweiwisdom.com )

“A simple Taoist meditation technique called ‘becoming the observer’ draws your attention away from the headache and can reduce your perception of the pain.

“Sit or lie down. Close your eyes, drop your shoulders and breathe slowly and deeply. Now move your attention away from your headache and focus on your whole body. Notice how the other parts of your body feel, all the way down to your fingertips and toes.

“Then turn your attention towards the environment around you. Notice and enjoy all the sensations you can feel, hear and smell. Continue to relax, breathe deeply and enjoy this quiet time for as long as suits you.”

10 Press your ‘He-Gu’ button

NICE recommends acupuncture for preventing tension headaches and you can try some of the techniques at home using acupressure.

“There are several acupressure points that are helpful for headaches,” says David James Lees.

“One is the ‘He Gu’ or ‘Union Valley’, a powerful point located in the web between your thumb and index finger.

“Apply pressure firmly and deeply on this point, hold for three seconds and release. Repeat three times on both hands. This will help relieve frontal and sinus headaches, and release tension from the neck and head.”

11 Pick rosemary

Medical herbalist Dee Atkinson advises: “Ease a headache by crushing a fresh sprig of rosemary between your fingers and inhaling the aroma. Massage diluted essential oil of rosemary onto temples or place a few drops onto a cotton hankie and tuck into your clothing around your neck area.”

12 Navel gaze

Most of us breathe too shallowly into our chests which can reduce the supply of oxygen to blood vessels in the brain, resulting in headaches.

Try focusing on a spot below your navel, then imagine breathing air into that spot, letting your tummy and lungs fill with air, then letting it all out slowly with a long exhale.

 

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Rooibos could be the antidote to SA’s poor sleep hygiene

Metrosmag,SA

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According to research, South Africans don’t sleep enough, which is considered a major public health concern as it not only costs the economy billions as a result of lost productivity and motor vehicle accidents, it could also lead to a variety of health complications such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

On average South Africans sleep around six hours a night, based on data collected by a sleep app, called Sleep Cycle. Most cited 6.24am as their rising time but said they found it difficult to go to bed before midnight. The majority only crawled under the covers again at 12.20am.

While 6 hours of sleep might sound adequate, it’s the sleep you clock before midnight that really counts.

According to sleep experts, the time you go to sleep makes a significant difference in terms of the structure and quality of your sleep. Your sleep cycle comprises of a series of 90 minute cycles during which your brain moves from deep, non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) sleep to REM sleep. As the night progresses, the ratio changes. Non-REM sleep tends to dominate sleep in the early part of the night, but wanes as the new day dawns.

Whether it’s mounting work stress, the Gupta leaks saga, social media or general insomnia – which affects as many as 40% of adults at some stage in their lives – that’s keeping you awake, home-grown rooibos could just be the natural antidote to cure our nation’s sleep crisis.

Ernest du Toit, spokesperson for the SA Rooibos Council says research done by several academic institutions proves rooibos’ calming effects on the body.

“A study by Stellenbosch University showed that rooibos tea could alleviate stress and anxiety levels, and as a result, aid in a good night’s rest. There are two critical compounds found in rooibos which interfere with the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. These are aspalathin and nothofagin – both potent antioxidants. The lower the levels of cortisol in the body, the higher the likelihood of uninterrupted sleep.

“Rooibos also contains magnesium and calcium – both minerals which play a role in a good night’s sleep. Studies published in the European Neurology Journal confirm that calcium levels spike during deep sleep. The brain uses calcium to manufacture the sleeping hormone, melatonin, which enhances the quality of your sleep. Other research has shown that magnesium deficiency can also lead to chronic insomnia (inability to sleep). Magnesium is also known as nature’s tranquiliser and has a calming effect on your nervous system which promotes deep sleep.

“If your children have trouble sleeping, give them a cup of rooibos too about an hour or two before bedtime to ensure you all get some needed zzz’s,” recommends du Toit.

Another potential factor hampering our sleep, could be our nation’s addiction to coffee.

Du Toit notes that unlike rooibos, coffee and most other teas contain caffeine – a stimulant that keeps you awake, so rather limit these beverages to the morning. With rooibos, the opposite is true. The more you drink, the better you will sleep.

“Drinking rooibos tea supplies your body with all the nutrients it needs for a peaceful night’s rest,” concludes du Toit.

Celebs that rely on a cup or rooibos just before bedtime include rugby player, Courtnall Skosan, actresses, Katlego Danke and Carine Rous, along with Black Like Me mogul, Herman Mashaba.

To spice things up, try mixing rooibos tea with cinnamon and honey – also known for their sleep-inducing qualities.

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Health & Fitness

The Real Reason You’re Gaining Weight As You Get Older and how to prevent it.

Metrosmag,SA

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Many of us have experienced it firsthand: As the years go by, the pounds become more difficult to keep off. But have you ever wondered exactly why we experience weight gain as we age? Hint: Your eating habits actually aren’t to blame.

There are a variety of reasons, explains Dr. Caroline Apovian, the Director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at the Boston Medical Center, professor at the Boston University School of Medicine, and the vice-president of The Obesity Society. A change in hormones, a more sedentary lifestyle, and an increase in stress and decrease in sleep due to added responsibilities are just a few.

“But a major reason for middle aged weight gain is the natural muscle loss we all experience,” Dr. Apovian, the author of The Age-Defying Diet and The Overnight Diet: The Proven Plan for Fast, Permanent Weight Loss, says. “The amount of lean muscle mass we have is the primary determinant of metabolic rate. In other words, the more muscle mass we have, the more calories we will burn. Our muscle mass naturally begins to decline around age 30, and that process, called sarcopenia, accelerates around age 40. Unless something is done to actively protect and build up that lean muscle mass, our bodies will require fewer calories, our metabolisms will slow, and the lost muscle will be replaced by fat.”

So, what can you do to prevent sarcopenia? Dr. Apovian offers three tips:

  1. “Exercise with weights at least twice per week, building up in both weight and intensity as you progress,” she says.
  2. “Eat a diet rich in lean protein sources, including protein smoothies.”
  3. “Get plenty of sleep,” Dr. Apovian concludes. “Amongst other health benefits, this gives the body time to repair and rebuild the muscles.”

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