The Unexpected Benefits of Meditation

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What if you could improve your brain function, cut stress, get a better night’s sleep, build up a strong immune system, improve your metabolism and add more years to you life? If there was one way to do all of these things, would you do it? There’s no magic pill, no free-trial, no special diet. It’s simply meditation.

History of Meditation

The exact date when meditation was first practiced is unknown; however, according to The Chopra Center, the earliest documented records citing meditation practice are dated 1500 BCE. It’s likely that these early teachings stemmed from the Vedas in ancient India. Between 600 and 500 BCE, meditation expanded to both Buddhist India and Taoist China. Japanese Buddhism began to evolve in the eighth century, after the first meditation hall opened in Japan in 653 CE. In the 18th century, teachings expanded to the West, and meditation began to grow widely popular in Western culture throughout the 20th century. Today, it’s easier to locate meditation groups, instructors and classes about meditation teachings. A new body of research has began to form around meditation, and it continues to grow.

Meditation and Immunity

According to a study published in the journal of Psychosomatic Medicine, people who meditate have higher levels of antibodies (a blood protein that protects against viruses and bacteria), than those who do not. The study took place over the course of eight weeks, and the study participants practiced mindful meditation on a weekly basis.

Meditation and Stress

The Mayo Clinic recommends meditation as a way to combat stress, citing that meditation reduces negative emotions and gives practitioners a new perspective on stressful situations. The health experts suggest practicing mindful meditation or yoga to cut stress. Before practicing, participants should make sure they are free of all distractions, including notifications from cellphones. The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 offers a nifty feature called “Block Mode” that allows users to experience a moment of zen.

Meditation and Anti-Aging

One way to reduce aging is to reduce stress; and we’ve established that meditation is a great way to combat stress. Additionally, the EOC Institute notes that meditation increases melatonin (a highly beneficial hormone that can reduce signs of aging). Melatonin also leads to better sleep, more energy and possibly stopping the advancing effects of some cancers.

Meditation and Brain Function

An entry from the journal of Psychiatry Research cites that just 30 minutes of meditation for eight weeks can change the physical makeup of the brain for the better. Most changes were present in the vital gray matter areas, impacting emotions, learning ability, memory and perspective.

Meditation and Fertility

The Infertility Awareness Association of Canada links meditation and fertility. It explains that women who practice meditation, which turns off stress hormones and encourages relaxation, may increases their chances of conception.

Meditation and Happiness

According to the experts from Action for Happiness, practicing meditation allows people to get in touch with their emotions and increases how optimistic and happy they feel. Meditation also allows people to accept who they are, developing a strong sense of self and increasing their sense of fulfillment.

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How To Diffuse A Patient Bomb

OK, so the title is funny, but the situation isn’t. We have all been there you are trying to help a patient, but they are getting increasingly frustrated and angrier. They are in pain, and probably very worried, and you can see in their eyes that they have had enough of waiting. You know that things are going to escalate and that the patient is going to turn nasty.

If you have ever worked in the emergency department, over the weekend, you know exactly what I mean and have seen this situation many times. A mix of long waiting time, pain, fear and the effects of drugs and alcohol is a cocktail for trouble, sometimes violence.

Nurses are facing this situation more and more, especially in emergency departments. Something the statistics back up. In the UK, eight NHS workers are attacked every hour and the number of attacks is rising by 8.7% per year.

So what is being done to keep your safe? And what can you do to diffuse the situation?

Changes in the workplace

Often the things that keep us safe when things go wrong and a patient gets a bit aggressive are subtle. For example, lanyards for those working in the NHS have been adapted so they breakaway if someone grabs them. It is an important safety feature, but don’t show a young patient that trick. I did once with a four year old and every time I saw him, he yanked my lanyard off and squealed with delight. Funny the first few times, less so weeks later.

The introduction of security staff in key areas is also helping. People think twice before becoming violent when they know there is someone there who is equipped to deal with violence.

More surveillance cameras are also being introduced, which is helping to prosecute more of those who do hurt staff or others in clinical settings. The introduction of zero tolerance policies is helping people to realise that nursing staff are not fair game. The word gets out and the mindset of those arriving in A&E is changing, which is helping.

What you can do

It is important to get things in perspective. Whilst there are more attacks on staff, we are still talking about less than 20 in 1000 healthcare workers being attacked in the UK, so the danger is there, but it is limited. It is important to keep things in perspective, so that you can remain confident, calm and relaxed while at work. The more relaxed you are the less likely patients are to be defensive. People tend to mirror the behaviour of those around them.

Take advantage of conflict training

Conflict training is definitely the best way to gain the skills you need to recognise the danger signals and quickly diffuse the situation.

Be empathetic

Often an angry patient is frightened and finding it hard to accept what is often bad news. Recognising the patient’s agitation and asking them about it gives them a healthy way to vent. Using reflective statements like “I understand your frustration/concern/distress” helps to calm many patients down.

You may still have to tell them the wait is going to be long, but doing so in this way helps to calm the patient. Remaining calm and non-judgemental also helps people tend to mirror your behaviour speaking harshly or raising your voice will only escalate the situation.

Keep your distance

Staying back a little from an agitated patient will allow you to simply take two steps back and get out of their reach if they attack. When people are agitated they can interpret the close physical proximity of a person as threatening.

 

 

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4 Random Life Hacks You Need Now and Forever

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Not only will these four skills help you make the transition from student to grown-up, but they will make you a better employee, entrepreneur, friend and all around all-star. Don’t be intimidated; all it takes is some planning, research and even a free app or two to get you further down the path to success.

Take Control of Your Finances

No more outrageously priced textbooks and parking tickets! Hooray! But according to a report from the Institute for College Access and Success, the national average student loan debt has reached $28,400. Meal plans, parent-funded credit cards and sleep deprivation have no doubt gotten you out of the habit of responsible money management. Now is the time to educate yourself to avoid defaulting on your loans, ruining your credit, and setting a bad precedent for the rest of your life.

Sit down and make a list of all your loans. Include their contact info, the loan balance and interest rate. FinAid has a simple checklist for keeping all the important info at your fingertips. Set up calendar notifications and automatic deposits — whatever you have to do so you don’t miss a payment and hurt your credit.

Master the Art of Moving

Friends flake out, U-Haul trucks are horrifying to drive, and Ikea furniture is out to get you: Welcome to being an adult. Moving into your first place will be a lot different than moving into the dorms.

Master the art of moving efficiently and you’ll save yourself, and your friends, a lot of headache and frustration. Preparation is key here; the longer you wait to start organizing and packing, the long it will take you to get settled into your new place. And don’t forget to keep helpers hydrated and fed so everyone is in a good mood.

Dish.com has a helpful list of expectations vs. reality when moving to a new city that will help you avoid common pitfalls and misconceptions of your first big solo move. And PopSugar features great moving hacks that help you stay organized, sane and on budget (did you know you can get free moving boxes off of Craigslist? Or that moving expenses are sometimes tax-deductible?).

Speaking Spanish Basics

Did you take years of Spanish classes and are now incapable of carrying on a conversation beyond your first name and the location of the nearest cold beverage or bathroom? We understand. It takes an adult about five years of consistent assimilation to become fluent. That’s just not possible with a full course load, even if you do go to Cabo for every spring break.

That’s why Workplace Spanish Classes are becoming more popular at colleges across the country. They focus on job-specific vocabulary and phrasing, saving employees and corporations time and money. But you don’t have to sign up for a class to get a jump on the job market and build a lifelong skill. Try labeling all the things you use on a daily basis with its name in Spanish written on a Post-It. There are also fantastic apps for your phone or tablet to help you learn Spanish — check out this list from FluentU.

But the best thing you can do to improve your Spanish is to speak it. Be on the lookout for people who speak Spanish and tell them you want to practice. Don’t focus on the words you don’t know or can’t remember; just let it flow, and don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself.

Nail the Job Interview

Now is the time to practice the interview skills that will be valuable for the rest of your career. Three Cs to remember here: calm, confident and concise. These traits will help you achieve success in any circumstance.

Look the part with simple, professional clothes. A complicated, flashy outfit communicates your personality, not your professionality. Even artists let their work speak for themselves by dressing in all black. Now this is not to say that your clothes aren’t important. Rich fabrics and sharp tailoring communicate self-confidence and pride in your appearance.

Act the part by listening actively and keeping your responses short and specific. Don’t try to give them your whole life story. Interviewers are more likely to remember you based on one or two memorable responses rather than a whole novel. Be sure to have good questions of your own to ask about the position and the company to show you’re interested in more than just a paycheck — we like these nine questions from Monster.

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6 Ways Stress is Ruining Your Life and How to Fix It

Being healthy is certainly physical, but it is also mental. If you’re not mentally well in time it can have a downward affect on your life. One of the most common mental challenges we deal with on the daily basis is stress. While some stress is to be expected, it can easily get out of control wreaking havoc on everything in its path. We’d like to think that our mounting problems in life are what create stress, but in reality, stress can cause problems we aren’t even aware of.
Below is a closer look at how stress could be affecting your life and how to stop it in its tracks.
1. Stress Causes Financial Demise – Yes it is true that too much debt can cause stress, but did you know that stressing about the debt can cause more financial issues? When your mind becomes consumed with stress, fears and anxieties as it pertains to your financial status, the brain chemically reacts. It releases stress hormones throughout the body which ultimately deplete the brain’s ability to effectively solve problems.
2. Stress Causes Poor Decision Making – When you’re stressed out, your brain kicks into survival mode. The greater the stress level, the more the brain wants to find an immediate solution to rectify the problem. However, by making a rash decision, you remove the process of thinking things through. Thus you make impulsive decisions that provide temporary relief. This leads to the daily wondering of why you’re not able to get ahead in life.
3. Stress Causes Poor Performance – Too much stress can cause you to perform poorly at everything you do. As the level of stress hormones increases in the brain, it hinders your ability to perform at your best. When so many things consume your mind, you’re unable to focus on any one particular matter causing you perform poorly.
4. Stress Causes Negative Emotions – If you think about a time in your life when you were most stressed, do you remember how you felt? Were you excited, happy, and overjoyed? Or were you anxious, depressed, and angry? Chances are you felt the latter. To be quite honest when your brain goes into a fight or flight state of being, it ultimately leads your emotions into a negative place as you try to bring your stress levels back down.
5. Stress Ruins Relationships – Having healthy relationships in your life is essential to your overall health. However, when you’re stressed, your negative emotions kick in causing you to ruin those healthy relationships. When you’re stressed you tend to argue more, withhold affection, criticize others, and even try to place blame on those you care about the most.
6. Stress Ruins Your Health – As I’ve stated before mental health can greatly affect your physical health. Unresolved levels of stress (chronic stress) can lead to an impaired immune system, poor cardiovascular health, increased aging, increased chances for chronic illness, kills brain cells, and can eventually lead to death.

Knowing What to Do

Now that you see how stress can greatly impact your life it is certainly worth managing. Sure the idea of living a stress free life is fairly slim (as stress is common and in some cases positive). However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to minimize it in all aspects before it takes hold of your entire life. Below are suggestions on how to kick stress:

·  Manage Your Finances – one of the biggest stressors in life is finances. Struggling to get out of debt, trying to make ends meet, and so on can cause high levels of stress. The solution…get your finances in order. To do this you might:

1.  Assess your household spending habits – over the next 30 days track where all of your finances are going so that you can see where you might need to cut back.

2.  Find ways to cut back on spending – let’s say you realize that your energy bill is the culprit for your financial troubles. You might look into switching providers, such as those suggested at http://www.albertaenergyproviders.com/enmax-alberta/alberta/. Also looking into ways to conserve energy costs such as turning off lights, installing new lights, etc.

·  Take a Deep Breath – Whether the root of your stress is financial, personal, or professional, sometimes all you need to do to minimize the stress in your life is to take a deep breath. Breathing in and out slowly for a few minutes can help to bring down stress levels and reprogram the brain. Also, taking a deep breath might mean literally taking a break from whatever is causing you to feel so stressed out. Treat yourself to a manicure, eat at your favorite restaurant, or take a stroll through the park just to get away.

·  Realize you’re human – sometimes we get this superhero complex and believe we can take on the world. Realizing that you’re only human and can only take on but so much can help you put things into perspective.

·  Ask for help – your family, friends, coworkers, and employers are all there to assist you in your personal and professional life. Whether the issue is too many responsibilities at home or too much of a workload at the office, talking to those directly involved and asking for assistance can take the burden off your shoulders thus removing a lot of the stress.

Stress can get out of hand before you even realize it has. Rather than allow stress to control so many areas of your life, it is better to recognize the issue and come up with an effective solution. If stress has begun to harm you physically, get help right away by either consulting with your doctor or a trained therapist to get your thoughts under control. Ultimately when you learn to heal the mind, you learn to heal the body and your quality of life greatly improves.

 

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Fight Against Cyberbullying: Programs & Laws That Help Protect Your Children

The Internet is closely integrated into the academic and social development of today’s youth. This resource provides ample possibilities for development and growth, though can also pose a threat to our children’s safety and well-being. Your child’s online activity engenders the risk of identity theft, exposure to indecent materials and cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying emerged as a malignant and obscured byproduct of social media and online interaction, which led to baneful and even fatal incidents, before it was fully acknowledged. Today, there are a number of preventive programs and government-driven initiatives that aim to prevent cyber bullying, through family education and political legislation. Here are some of the best programs you can be involved with, so you can actively protect your child from cyberbullying:

StopBullying.gov

This site extends beyond the realm of cyberbullying and provides a definitive overview of how bullying presents itself in its many forms. This site is the perfect place for you to begin your education of bullying, as it provides you with a breakdown of what it means to be the perpetrator or victim in a bully situation. Stopbullying.gov classifies the various roles kids may have in a bully situation, which ranges from kids who “bully,” “are bullied,” “assist,” “reinforce,” “defend” or are the “outsiders” who witness. This information hopes to inform kids and parents that all children who witness bullying are involved, therefore have the power to prevent it.

STOP Cyberbullying

STOP Cyberbullying is an organization that equips parents with a wide array of information around the subject of cyberbullying. This site posts material and resources on cyberbullying laws and methods of prevention. Their “How to Take Action” section provides parents with the most effective verbiage and techniques, so you may teach your child about the dangerous consequences and harmful effects of online bullying. The site will let you classify which age range you’re hoping to educate, and adjusts their material into three age brackets of “7-10 years-old,” “11-13 years-old” and “14-17 years-old.”

Safe School Ambassadors Program

The SSA program is one of the most effective bystander educational programs, which engages students and empowers them with the knowledge of bully prevention methods. This program has an “inside-out” approach, where the students have the power to improve the school social environment from within. SSA recognizes that kids are privy to situations that adults aren’t always aware of, and are more likely to have first-hand witness to all forms of bullying. The program trains student ambassadors and thoroughly teaches them how they can stand up for themselves and others, in the event of bullying or cyberbullying. The federal agency of SAMHSA has included this program in the National REgistry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP).

Cyberbullying Research Center

This valuable online resources provides you with all the federal and state laws that concern cyberbullying. There is an easy-to-read list of all the states and how they regard cyberbullying in their state legislation system. The research center has been conducting surveys from 2004-2014 within 97 different schools and among 15,000 middle school students. Twenty-five percent of the students, who surveyed over the company’s last eight studies, confirmed they have been cyberbullied at some point in their life. About 9 percent of those same students, stated they were cyberbullied in the 30 days prior to the survey. This site is full of all the facts you, so you may have a better understanding of cyberbullying and informed of how you can take action.

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Moms and Alcoholism: It’s More Common than you Think

Drinking can be a problem for moms, especially stay-at-home moms who are more prone to depression than their working counterparts. A 2012 Gallup poll reports that stay-at-home moms are 11 percent more likely to struggle with depression than women who work outside the home. Some people drink to “drown their sorrows,” but this behavior can get out of hand. The result is alcohol abuse, and alcoholism that can lead moms into a downward spiral.

Moms, Don’t Hide Your Alcoholism

Mothers hide their alcoholism because it’s still taboo to be open about it. If you’re struggling with drinking too much, and you’re a parent, it’s highly likely you’ve found the issue embarrassing or difficult to talk about. Don’t let societal judgments force you into secrecy.

It’s important to remember that you’re not alone. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, approximately 4 million women struggle with alcohol dependence in the US. It can be assumed this statistic is on the low side because women are less likely to report their alcoholism, according to Everyday Health.

Everyday Health reached out to psychologist and executive director of the Thelma McMillen Center for Alcohol and Drug Treatment, Moe Gelbart, PhD, to comment on the situation. Gelbart had this to say: “There is still a cultural stigma attached to female drinking versus male. As such, women’s alcohol problems will tend to be more ‘underground’ and ‘hidden.”

There is Help for Alcoholic Moms

Ladies, especially moms, are encouraged to speak out about their issues with alcoholism, such as the brave moms who told their stories to California news source, WNDU. For a long time Heather Fanning hid her drinking from her family. She would stash her drinks around the home, in out of the way places, and she’d drink vodka, beer, and wine while her family remained somewhat clueless.

Heather didn’t wait for alcoholism to take her life or someone else’s. She sought help from an inpatient treatment center. According to Heather, admitting that she needed help was the most difficult part. She shared her story to inspire more women to come forward, in order to “reverse the trend of women turning to alcohol,” and also hiding their addiction.

There are treatment centers that cater specifically to women and moms. If you’re struggling with alcoholism, there are places you can go where your specific issues will be addressed. Moreover, you’ll be surrounded by women from all walks of life, so you can see that alcoholism doesn’t discriminate. It’s a real disease, and some of the best moms struggle with it.

According to Sandy’s Place, a leading alcohol rehab for women, “If not addressed, alcohol abuse begins to unravel all facets of a woman’s life. It is dangerous for women physically, socially, and spiritually. It often takes women away from their true selves and what is most important to them.”

Don’t risk your relationships with your children or your spouse. Instead, reach out for help. Remember, simply admitting you need help is often the most difficult hurdle. Once you’ve reached out for help, everything else will fall into place and you can begin your journey toward recovery.

 

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