"Breathe in from the nose and slowly exhale through the nose.”

Class is in session inside the MUSC Wellness Center’s auditorium as Sundar Balasubramanian, Ph.D., leads a yogic breathing class for participants in Survivors' Fit Club, a group for breast cancer survivors to find community and improve their overall fitness and well-being. Balasubramanian, a world-renowned expert in the field, is an MUSC Hollings Cancer Center researcher, cell biologist, certified yoga therapist and assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at MUSC.

He knows how important yogic breathing can be for overall health, especially for cancer patients and survivors. The Survivors' Fit Club session is just one of several programs and pilot studies that Balasubramanian is leading, seeking to quantify the benefits of this practice.

“There are a lot of long-term chronic health issues that stem from cancer treatment,” he said. “We are looking for ways to improve aspects of survivorship that work in combination with the traditional standard of care. Breathing exercises can alter how we feel emotionally and how certain physiological changes are occurring. For example, breathing exercises can improve blood circulation, which can then help you keep a steady heart rate and create a sense of being energetic and relaxed.”

Research is showing a wide range of potential benefits, including:

  • Boosting the immune system.
  • Reducing anxiety, pain and depression.
  • Improving quality of sleep.
  • Enhancing emotional regulation.
  • Reducing negative side effects during cancer treatment.

While there are a variety of yogic breathing exercises, the core purpose remains the same – a slow, intentional inhale and exhale from the nose to center the participant and promote mindfulness. Balasubramanian also teaches participants how to incorporate an ‘ocean’ sound from the throat as yet another breathing exercise.

One of his studies is looking at the impacts of yogic breathing in breast cancer patients. The 12-week study is open to breast cancer patients who have received radiation therapy within the last six months. It will continue recruiting patients through May 2023, Balasubramanian said.

Participants will receive a unique link to access an online yogic breathing app called Kumbi, which translates to “to gather and hold,” and complete three 10-minute-long exercises three times a day, five days a week. The telehealth aspect of the study allows breast cancer patients across the country who have recently undergone radiation therapy to join.

“Everyone had to learn how to walk. It’s something most of us do every day,” he said. “The same applies to breathing exercises. A lot of people say they know about breathing exercises, and some have even done a class on it. But how often are you doing it? Is it daily? How many times a day? Routine is important.”

Balasubramanian said participants will complete questionnaires that will measure factors like stress levels, anxiety, sleep and quality of life. He hypothesizes that if you improve those factors, you’ll improve the overall health of the patient and improve the quality of her life.

“Participants will be assigned to one of the two mindfulness groups. One will follow one traditional mindfulness exercise, and the other group will focus on yoga breathing exercises,” he explained. “Participants will engage with others taking part in the study and can also practice their mindfulness exercises on their own.”

 

Yogic breathing to enhance cancer survivorship


Balasubramanian isn’t stopping with breast cancer patients. There are plans for him to work with the South Carolina Cancer Disparities Research Center (SC CADRE), a collaboration between MUSC Hollings Cancer Center and South Carolina State University, to develop newer yogic breathing tools (apps) for patients with breast, prostate and colorectal cancer who are receiving chemotherapy and radiation to study disparities in cancer outcomes.

“We’re very excited to have him on board,” said Marvella Ford, Ph.D., co-director of SC CADRE.

She noted that Black people, whether with or without cancer, tend to have higher levels of inflammatory biomarkers than white people.

“If you go into a cancer diagnosis already having these high levels of inflammatory biomarkers, it affects the treatment outcomes,” she explained. “He’s really making a connection between the act of yogic breathing and the levels of these biomarkers by showing that participating in a yogic breathing intervention substantially reduces the levels of these biomarkers and decreases bio-inflammation, which has been linked to improved cancer treatment outcomes.”

a man sits at a desk in a classroom and smiles at the camera 
Dr. Sundar Balasubramanian

Balasubramanian has also taken the yogic breathing exercises to the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge in Charleston. The Hope Lodge, across the street from Hollings and the MUSC campus, provides free lodging for cancer patients who are in treatment but live more than 40 miles away from the hospital. There, Balasubramanian offers weekly 20-minute sessions to both patients and caregivers.

In a voluntary, anonymous survey of previous participants at the Hope Lodge, Balasubramanian found that nearly all participants reported the breathing exercises improved their stress levels. The yogic breathing also exceeded participants’ expectations in improving their appetites. Overall, 90% reported being very satisfied with the sessions, and 83% said they intended to continue the exercises at home.

In the study of breast cancer patients who have undergone radiation, participants will be asked to provide a total of eight saliva samples. “In our research, we’ve found that people in a more relaxed state after yogic breathing produce more saliva,” he said. “Saliva isn’t just digestive fluid. It also contains neurohormones, growth factors and proteins needed for our well-being.”

Balasubramanian said research has shown that saliva contains tumor suppressors that could impact how cancer forms and grows. He also said that saliva can be examined for biomarkers that indicate stress.

Balasubramanian said these studies hit close to home, having grown up in India where yoga is a common practice. In 2015, he was asked to share his research and expertise on yogic breathing and overall health during a TEDxCharleston talk. Since then, he’s been spreading awareness about the health benefits of yoga breathing.

“Our goal is to use the findings from this study to expand it to all other cancer types at any stage,” Balasubramanian said. “Yoga breathing is something everyone can do, regardless of their physical abilities. We hope this provides our cancer patients and survivors another resource to lead a healthier life.”

In the future, Balasubramanian said the goal is for the Kumbi app to be commercialized to expand its benefit for all patients.

For more information or to enroll in the breast cancer patients study, click here.

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Growth of the global breathing
circuits market 
is mainly bound to various
macro-economic and micro-economic factors. Increasing
prevalence of bronchial cancer, chronic coughing, and asthma
has led to a surge in demand in the healthcare industry.
Increasing preference of smoking is further expected to
impact growth of the global market. Smoking leads to chronic
inflammation and further increases the asthmatic effect in
the patients. These factors lead to increasing adoption of
breathing circuits in the hospitals, clinics and ambulatory
surgical center.

Surge in the number of emergency
cases in the healthcare industry continues to rev up demand
for breathing circuits in the global market. In addition,
prevalence of asthma is projected to contribute towards the
global market growth of breathing circuit. Future Market
Insight states that the global market of breathing circuit
is projected to reflect a CAGR of 3.1% over the forecast
period, 2017-2022.

Request for
Report Sample @

www.futuremarketinsights.com/reports/sample/rep-gb-1935

Factors
Fuelling Growth of the Global Market

In its
recent report, CDC reveals that 18.4 million in the age
bracket of 18 years and over, which represents 7.6% of the
adults who have asthma. Increasing prevalence of various
diseases such as asthma and bronchial cancer has revved up
demand for devices that facilitate deep breathing in the
healthcare industry. Attributed to such factors, breathing
circuits in the healthcare industry will continue to witness
increasing adoption.

Breathing circuits are equipped
with features such as innovative face masks, tubes and heat,
which provides ideal care and comfort to the patients. The
healthcare professionals are also witnessed to be using
breathing circuits for drug delivery to patients. Increasing
demand for delivering medications to the children, old age
patients and infants during emergency will continue to
contribute towards the global market growth of breathing
circuits.

On the other hand, several factors are
likely to impact the global market growth of breathing
circuits negatively. Breathing circuits used in the
ambulatory surgical centers, hospitals and clinics are
equipped with unidirectional valve and increasingly absorb
CO2. Due to these factors, the patients resist breathing
through breathing circuits.

Further, increasing
complexities while operating breathing circuits can be fatal
during the emergency cases. In addition, preference for
practicing yoga in order to enhance health conditions is
further expected to impact growth of the global market
negatively. Attributed to such factors, sales of the
breathing circuit devices will continue to drop in the
global market over the forecast period.

Speak
to our Research Expert @ 

www.futuremarketinsights.com/ask-question/rep-gb-1935

Hospitals
to Represent a Major End User

Increasing
prevalence of breathing problems such as asthma has revved
up adoption of the open breathing circuits in the healthcare
industry. Based on the product type, the open breathing
circuits segment is projected to generate significant
revenues, recording more than US$ 2,000 Mn by 2022-end. On
the other hand, the semi open breathing circuits segment is
projected to reflect a robust CAGR throughout the forecast
period. In terms of revenue, the hospitals end users segment
is projected to represent the fastest growth, accounting for
more than US$ 2,000 Mn by 2017-end.

The anesthesia
application segment is projected to represent robust revenue
growth, recording more than US$ 2,000 Mn by 2022-end. In
contrary to this, the respiratory dysfunction application
segment is projected to reflect the highest CARG through
2022.

Market Players

Major
players operating in the global market of breathing circuits
are C. R. Bard Inc., Ambu A/S, Armstrong Medical Industries,
Inc., Altera Corp., Beijing Aeonmed Co., Ltd., Becton,
Dickinson and Company, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare
Corporation Limited, Bio-Med Devices, Flexicare Medical
Ltd., Dragerwerk AG & Co. KGaA, Teleflex Incorporated,
General Electric Company and Smiths Group
plc.

Buy [email protected] www.futuremarketinsights.com/checkout/1935

Market
Taxonomy

Region:

  • North
    America
  • Latin
    America
  • Europe
  • Japan
  • APEJ
  • MEA

Product
Type:

  • Open Breathing
    Circuits
  • Semi Open Breathing Circuits
  • Closed
    Breathing Circuits

End
User:

  • Hospitals
  • Ambulatory
    Surgical Centers
  • Clinics
  • Home Care
    Settings

Application:

  • Anesthesia
  • Respiratory
    Dysfunction
  • Other
    Applications

Explore FMI’s Extensive
ongoing Coverage on Automotive Domain

Nonrebreathing
Oxygen Masks Market
- A nonrebreathing oxygen masks
is a face mask used in providing high oxygen concentration.
It contains a reservoir bag that provides an adequate amount
of oxygen available for the abnormal breathing pattern of
the patient tidal volume.

Breathing
Exercise Devices Market
- Incentive spirometers or
breathing exercise devices or sustained maximal inspiration
(AMI) are apparatus that are used by adults or children
above age of 4 years to strengthen respiratory muscles and
increase the ling volume.

Breath
Samplers Market
- The breath samplers
market
 is likely to record a CAGR
of 19% during the forecast
period. As per the analysis of Future Market Insights, the
breath samplers market was valued at US$ 550
Mn
 in 2021.

Point-Of-Care
Breathalyzer Market
- Breathalyzer is a
non-invasive medical device used for estimation of Blood
Alcohol content (BAC) from breath sample. Breathalyzer is
used to test intoxication levels caused by alcohol and
drugs.

Breath
Analyzers Market
- The breath
analyzers market 
is projected likely to
register a CAGR of 17% during the forecast period, up from
US$ 613 Mn in 2021 to reach a valuation of US$ 3.40 Bn by
2032.

About Future Market Insights
(FMI)

Future Market Insights (ESOMAR certified market
research organization and a member of Greater New York
Chamber of Commerce) provides in-depth insights into
governing factors elevating the demand in the market. It
discloses opportunities that will favor the market growth in
various segments on the basis of Source, Application, Sales
Channel and End Use over the next
10-years.

Contact:

Future
Market Insights,

1602-6 Jumeirah Bay X2
Tower,

Plot No: JLT-PH2-X2A,

Jumeirah Lakes
Towers, Dubai,

United Arab Emirates

For
Sales Enquiries:
 [email protected]

For
Media Enquiries:
 [email protected]

Website: www.futuremarketinsights.com/

Report: www.futuremarketinsights.com/reports/breathing-circuits-market

© Scoop Media

 

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No, you don’t need to pump out hundreds of crunches and sit-ups to build stronger abdominal muscles. But is the “stomach vacuum” exercise that’s breaking the internet really the miracle core strengthener advocates claim it is?

The exercise, which went viral on the video-sharing platform TikTok, has had more than 85.8 million views. Jenny Brennecke, DPT, a physical therapist and fitness coach, created a step-by-step tutorial on the viral workout hack, also known as hollowing. She says it’s an isometric exercise that can help with abdominal strength and low-back pain if done regularly, she claims in the video. She goes on to say it can reduce low-back injury risk, assist with postural control and stability within the spine and pelvis, and control and strengthen the abdominal muscles "on command.”

Is this stronger-abs hack worth adding to your routine, and is it safe? Here’s what you need to know.

What Is the Stomach Vacuum?

In her viral TikTok video, Brennecke breaks down the exercise, explaining that it works your transversus abdominis, the deep band of abdominal muscle that wraps around the torso between the ribs and pelvis. “[The transversus abdominis] kind of acts as a corset to wrap around your body, and when strengthened can make your waist appear a little slimmer,” she says.

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Take a few deep breaths and feel the difference (Picture: Getty)

Feeling stressed out, worried or overwhelmed today? You’re not alone.

Many people struggle with anxiety on a daily basis and while there are several physical signs of anxiety, one of the most distressing can be a shortness of breath or changes to the regularity of breathing.

While stress and anxiety can make it feel harder to breathe – your breath can actually hold the key to helping you feel better, and keeping you in the moment.

Clare Gridley, psychotherapist at independent mental health care provider the Priory Group, has revealed nine science-backed breathing exercises that can help you to develop a healthier way of breathing, bringing a whole host of benefits and improving your overall wellbeing.

Speaking on behalf of free global mental health app My Possible Self, Clare explains: ‘For many it can be daunting knowing where to start when it comes to breathing exercises, but it doesn’t need to be and the benefits can be profound.

‘When you feel the signs of anxiety building up inside, there are tailored techniques you can adopt that will help to get your breathing back to normal.’

Here are nine simple breathing techniques that can be tried at work or at home to help keep anxiety symptoms under control:

Simple breathing techniques for anxiety

1. Alternate nostril breathing

‘Alternate nostril breathing, also known as nadi shodhana, is a simple breathing technique that is often used to calm any anxieties before yoga or a meditation session,’ says Claire.

‘To practice alternate nostril breathing, assume a seated position with good posture that opens up your chest.

‘Next, take the index and middle fingers of your right hand and rest them next to each other between your eyebrows (you can do this with your left hand if you feel more comfortable).’

Now you’re ready to practise alternate nostril breathing:

  1. Use your thumb to close the right-hand nostril and inhale slowly through only your left nostril.
  2. Pinch your nose closed by bringing your ring finger to your left nostril. Temporarily hold your breath.
  3. Open up your right nostril by removing your thumb and exhale.
  4. Hold for a moment before inhaling again through the right nostril.
  5. Pinch your nose closed again and hold your breath for a moment.
  6. Now open up the left nostril and exhale. Again, wait a moment before you inhale.

That is one cycle of alternate nostril breathing, which can take anywhere up to a minute.

Claire says you should repeat the process for about 10 minutes or until you feel suitably calmed.

2. Lion’s breath

Like alternate nostril breathing, Claire says lion’s breath is a yogic breathing (or pranayama) exercise that’s predominantly done during a yoga session.

‘However, its ability to alleviate stress makes it useful for anyone looking for a breathing exercise to calm themselves,’ she says.

‘This one is done by sitting, either in a chair or on the floor, with your hands on your knees or flat on the floor.’

  1. Spread your fingers wide and inhale through your nose.
  2. Open your mouth and stick out your tongue. Stretch it down to your chin.
  3. Do a big exhale, pushing the air across your tongue and making a ‘ha’ sound from the depths of your abdomen.
  4. Take a short break by breathing normally before starting again.

Repeat the cycle several times to see the benefits.

Yogic breathing practices like lion’s breath are proven to work effectively as a stress reducer. 

3. 4-4-4 breathing

Claire says 4-4-4 breathing, also commonly known as box breathing, is one of the easier breathing techniques you can practice to help you calm anxiety.

‘It’s perfect as a quick fix for reducing stress by distracting your mind and body,’ she adds.

‘In fact, if you’ve taken a minute to breathe deeply then you’ve likely come close to box breathing.’

  1. Take a breath then exhale on the count of four.
  2. Hold your breath for four seconds.
  3. Inhale to the count of four.
  4. Hold your breath for four seconds.

A few rounds of box breathing should help to keep a raised heart rate down and distract you from the anxiety-inducing situation around you.

Sitting down with an extended spine and open chest is the best way to practice this technique, but it can be done stood up too.

4. 4-7-8 Breathing

‘Also known as relaxing breath, 4-7-8 breathing follows the same principles as 4-4-4 breathing,’ says Claire.

‘Get yourself in a seated position, either in a chair or cross-legged on the floor or your bed.’

  1. Inhale to the count of four.
  2. Hold your breath for seven seconds.
  3. Exhale to the count of eight.

Relaxing breath is the perfect pre-bedtime breathing technique, reducing feelings of tension and anxiety to help you get a better night’s sleep.

5. Pursed-lip breathing

For many breathing techniques, Claire says pursed lips can help to make your breathing more effective and purposeful.

‘Pursed lips also have a dedicated technique of their own,’ she says. ‘You can do this when sat down or when you’re active.’

  1. Take a breath in slowly through your nose for two seconds. Keep your mouth closed.
  2. Purse your lips, as if you were about to whistle or sip through a straw.
  3. Exhale through your mouth while counting to four.

‘This technique is especially good at slowing the pace of your breath and limiting the distress caused by shortness of breath.

‘Once you’ve mastered this technique, your breathing will be more efficient, helping your body do less work when breathing.’

6. Diaphragmatic breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing, is a breathing technique with plenty of research supporting its benefits.

‘Research published in Frontiers in Psychology says it can reduce negative subjective and physiological consequences of stress in healthy adults,’ says Claire.

‘To practice it, take a seated position or lie down.’

  1. Place one hand on your chest and one just below your ribcage on your abdomen.
  2. Slowly breathe in through your nose, feeling the air move down to your abdomen.
  3. As you do, your belly will expand and push outwards but your chest should remain relatively still.
  4. Purse your lips and exhale slowly for a few seconds.
  5. Throughout, take note of how your stomach expands and contacts, but your chest makes only slight movements.

For maximum effect, repeat this cycle a few times.

7. Resonance breathing

Resonance breathing, or coherent breathing, is another great way to reduce anxiety, respond positively to stress and to bring about a more relaxed self.

Claire says: ‘To start resonance breathing, lie down flat and close your eyes.

  1. Breathe in slowly through your nose to the count of six. Be careful not to fully inflate your lungs.
  2. Gently exhale for six seconds.
  3. Throughout the process (around 10 minutes), focus on your body and how it feels as the air passes in and out.

‘Evidence shows that resonance breathing can have positive effects on a wide range of anxiety, stress and mood related modifiers.

‘Research from Brigham Young University showed positive outcomes for heart rate variability, reduced blood pressure response to stress, and a more positive mood.’

8. Long exhaling

Claire says longer exhalations can help you to combat your fight-or-flight stress response and improve your heart rate variability – which over time can help us to deal better with stress.

‘This is what recent research (summarised by Psychology Today) in the industry has discovered,’ she says.

‘As a breathing technique, it means exhaling out for longer than you inhale.’

  1. Inhale for a short period, around 2-3 seconds.
  2. Pause at the top of the breath for a second.
  3. Exhale gently for double the time of your inhale, so around 4-6 seconds.
  4. Continue for at least five minutes and monitor your mood and feelings of anxiety for any improvements.

‘When we’re stressed, too many big inhalations can lead us to engage our fight-or-flight instincts and hyperventilate.

‘This technique, which can be done stood up, lying down or sitting, can help to keep those overwhelming feelings at bay.’

9. Teddy bear breathing

The technique with the cutest name, teddy bear breathing is very similar to diaphragmatic breathing – but adds a child’s toy into the exercise to engage younger people.

  1. Place one hand on your chest. Place a teddy bear or toy on your belly and hold it with your other hand.
  2. Slowly breathe in through your nose, feeling the air move down to your tummy.
  3. As you do, your belly will expand and push the bear outwards. Your chest should stay almost where it is.
  4. Purse your lips and exhale slowly for a few seconds.
  5. Throughout, take note of how the bear moves up and down with your belly, but your chest makes only slight movements.

‘You could try this one with your children,’ says Claire, ‘helping them to become more aware of their breathing and less worried about the world around them.’

My Possible Self is a free, NHS endorsed mental health app which provides holistic and engaging tools to support and improve mental wellbeing, and includes a guided ‘overcoming my anxiety’ series.

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch by emailing [email protected].


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Stress has become a part of life, but instead of living with it, we must find the tools with which to combat it. Yoga is one such tool that can deal with physical, emotional and mental issues caused by stress, and give you a better perspective of life.

According to Samiksha Shetty, a certified yoga educator and the founder of Moon Village Cafe, yoga postures (asanas), breathwork (Pranayama) and meditation induce a sense of calm and relaxation from within, and if you are looking for how you can de-stress, this is what you need to know.

“In yoga, we use movement and breath to release stuck energy along the spine and throughout the body. The mind-body connection created in yoga facilitates change at a cellular level. Our nervous systems can rewire by retraining psychological or emotional triggers that set off our flight-or-fight response,” she explains.

She lists these asanas and breath exercises to enhance the mood and give you an instant spike in energy.

1. Downward-facing dog /Adho Mukha Svanasana

This helps unwind the entire body. It strengthens the arms and shoulders, lengthens the spine, calves and hamstrings and energises the body by bringing blood flow to the brain.

Start on the floor by placing your hands and knees down. Straighten your legs by lifting your knees off the floor and push your heels down as far as they can go. Extend the spine by pushing away from the ground using your palms. Stay here for 5 to 9 breaths.

2. Ushtrasana (Camel Pose)

Your spine holds your entire body upright, is part of the central nervous system and responsible for all bodily functions. This is where repressed anger and stress is held. Backbends work on your heart chakra as it opens the chest and leaves you feeling more energised.

Come to your knees, with your legs hip-width apart. Place your hands on your hips, with your thumbs at the base of your spine. Press your shins and the top of your feet into the mat (or tuck your toes for an easier version). Inhale, lift your chest and slowly start to bring your torso back. From here, bring your right hand to rest on your right heel and your left hand to rest on the left heel. Keep your head in a relatively neutral position, so as to not strain your neck. Hold for 30 seconds.

3. Baddha Konasana (Butterfly Pose)

This pose relieves stiffness in the ankles, knees and hips and improves hip mobility. It also helps give a good emotional release. Your hips store pent up emotions of fear and worry which blocks you from moving forward.

Variation 1: Begin by sitting on the floor with your legs stretched out straight in front of you and spine erect. Now, bring the soles of your feet together, bending both your knees to the side. Place your feet in front of your pelvis, around a fist distance from your groin. Now, take deep breaths and press your thighs and knees down towards the floor providing gentle pressure. In a slow and controlled motion begin to flap both your legs from the hip like the wings of a butterfly for around 60 seconds.

Variation 2: Once you come into position with your feet pressed together, hold them with your hands and open your feet like a book towards the ceiling. Take a deep breath and on your exhale, bend forward bringing your chin or forehead towards the mat. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds and then come back up.

Variation 3: Supta Baddhakonasana (lying down on the floor with legs in the same position).

4. Happy Child’s Pose

This asana lengthens and stretches out your spine and hips simultaneously. It also alleviates fatigue and moves the mind to a playful mode.

Lie down on your back with your knees bent into your belly. Grab your feet with your hands and keep your knees slightly wider than your torso. Your ankles should be directly above your knees. Now gently pull your hands down and simultaneously push your feet up to create resistance. Stay here for 9-12 breaths.

5. Savasana (Corpse Pose)

Savasana is one of the most important asanas in yoga. It balances your nervous system and helps the body enter a state of calm by removing emotional blockages.

Start by lying down on your back with your hands and legs stretched out keeping your body in one line. Keep your legs slightly apart and your feet and knees completely relaxed. Place your hands at your sides, palms open and facing upward. Feet and toes should be rolled out. Now close your eyes. Relax your entire body while breathing slowly and deeply. Observe the changes in the body and mind. Wait for 5-10 minutes or till you feel completely relaxed and then gently roll on to the right side making your way up into a seated position.

Beathing

Natural breath

Simply breathing and noticing the natural breath is necessary. The breath is the only voluntary and involuntary body function that reveals unconscious emotional, mental and physical patterns.

Try this:

– Breathe in and notice thoughts as they arise.
– Breathe out, and notice thoughts as they dissipate.
– Give yourself permission to detach from your thoughts during this time.
– Simply observe the quality of your natural breath.

Belly breathing/abdominal breathing

Sit in any comfortable meditative posture with your eyes closed. Bring your focus onto your navel. Keep your entire body still. Inhale, feel the diaphragm move downwards while expanding the abdominal muscles outwards. Exhale, feel the dominant abdomen contract as you pull in the belly.

If it is difficult to perform this breathing technique while sitting up straight, try performing it while lying down in savasana.

Also try

Body scan meditation: It is a good way to release physical tension. Start by lying down in savasana. Then begin by mentally scanning yourself, as you bring awareness to different parts of the body and bodily sensations, starting from the feet moving up towards the head.

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The founder of a Minnetonka-based nonprofit is helping support displaced Ukrainian mental health providers. It’s been three months since Russia invaded its neighboring country.

BreathLogic co-founder Laurie Ellis-Young and her husband Dr. George Ellis lived in Ukraine from 2016 to 2021. They have friends that were displaced by the invasion.

“Following friends that were in Ukraine during the invasion and just experiencing the trauma that they were experiencing of deciding whether to leave or not,” she said. “Some left with only enough clothes for a week, and now they’ve ended up being gone for months. We’re working with a group of psychologists online, helping them deal with their own trauma and self-care.”

Ellis-Young has decades of experience with yoga and meditation. She established her organization BreathLogic in 2013, and she leads international trainings and retreats on how to effectively use breathing to reduce stress, trauma and improve well-being.

“It’s about finding a place of peacefulness inside,” she said. “When you’re living in a place like Ukraine or many, many other places — even here in the Twin Cities — if you have chaos around you and things happening, the ability to just close your eyes and to stop for a moment to know whether you’re inhaling or exhaling gives you a respite of peace.”

The couple moved to Ukraine in 2016 when Ellis accepted a job as a senior psychologist for the 57-member international Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

According to OSCE, its special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine was deployed in 2014. Unarmed observers gathered information on the ground, provided objective reports, and worked to reduce tension amid fighting between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian groups.

“They had multiple footprints in the area of conflict and outside of it, and my job was to go and work with people, and be present with them, and support them as they were dealing with some pretty difficult scary things,” Ellis said.

Ellis was based in Kyiv but traveled across the country as he trained about 1,500 OSCE monitors and staff on how to prepare for the conflict zone, manage their stress and handle secondary trauma.

“They were in the active conflict zone in the east Donbas region,” he explained. “Their job was to observe and report. Still, when you see children dead on the street, or bodies blown apart, you can imagine how stressful or potentially people are vulnerable to being traumatized.”

He traveled into the conflict zone with the monitors to provide support. Ellis explained he taught them about the importance of calming the nervous system, including through deep breathing.

“We would travel in armored vehicles in full protective gear, helmet, and flack vests. You’re driving on roads that are really full of potholes, you might be driving for six hours … what better way to manage your nervous system,” Ellis said of the breathing exercises. “We can reduce the possibility of post-traumatic stress disorder — which is obtaining chronic symptoms of stress — if we can stay in a calm relaxed state.”

Ellis-Young also helped with training during their time in Ukraine. She explained she taught deep breathing exercises that could be used at any time, including in a conflict zone.

“They take you from not feeling safe — or going into fight or flight, or being stressed out — to being centered and calm and able to think clearly,” Ellis-Young said. “If you are breathing in your belly, you are telling your body you are safe. You cannot be in a state of full-on panic if you’re breathing in your belly, so we would do creative ways to breathe in the belly, have the exhale be longer than the inhale.”

In February, Ellis was asked to return to Ukraine to provide training to mental health professionals. The visit was cut short and he was evacuated after Russians invaded the country.

They are now meeting weekly virtually with mental health professionals who have been displaced from their homes in Ukraine.

“Helping them deal with their own trauma and self-care,” said Ellis-Young.

Ellis added, “We’re volunteering. We’re working together to help them so that they can support others.”

During their time in Ukraine, they also wrote a book. “Breath is Life” details breathing strategies and daily application for people across the globe.

“I come at it from the perspective that for me, the breath is a way for me to very consciously manage how we experience the world, how we manage our nervous system in such a way that we can utilize the space and address how we react to something,” Ellis said.

Ellis-Young added, “When we work with our breath, we work with our hearts. It’s physical. It affects our blood pressure, our cardiovascular system but also every other system in the body. … It’s a form of self-care, and it’s a form of dealing with anxiety, dealing with trauma, whether it be trauma from experiences that you’ve had or secondary trauma of watching somebody else experience.”

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Anxiety, depression, and stress have become common in everyday modern life, impacting relationships, families, communities, and even the workplace. In fact, mental health problems have an impact on employers and businesses directly through increased absenteeism, and a negative impact on productivity and profits. According to Mental health America (MHA), managing stress and balancing professional and personal demands continues to be a prominent issue for employees.

In 2021, some 80% of employees agreed that the stress from work aff­ects their relationships with friends, family, and co-workers. A further 71% of employees say that they find it difficult to concentrate at work -up by 6% from 2020. Very often anxiety manifests itself in the form of increased heart rate, rapid breathing, restlessness, trouble concentrating, insomnia, and others.

If you experience some of these symptoms perhaps you might want to seek help from a trained mental health professional. But in the meantime, you might consider trying out some mental health apps to help relieve your anxiety.



What is an Anxiety App?

Anxiety apps are tools that help users focus on improving different aspects of their mental health and well-being. They employ a variety of behavioral exercises and relaxation techniques to help you break free from anxious thoughts and feelings. These may include meditation sessions, calming tracks, breathing exercises, mood monitors, sleep therapy, goal setting, courses, and more. With anxiety apps, all you need is your mobile device and a few minutes to focus. Anxiety apps not only help you overcome panic attacks but also help you receive therapy in the comfort of your own home. They make it easier for people to reach out for help and are easily accessible for anyone trying to cope with mental health problems.

Why You Should Download an Anxiety App

Anxiety apps can help you find the right mental health services that suit your needs. They also can help ease any apprehensions when it comes to seeking to address a mental health issue in person. There are many potential benefits of using anxiety apps for alleviating depression and anxiety and including:

  • Affordability: Unlike therapy with a mental health professional anxiety apps come at a relatively low price. However, they may not be the best substitute for treatment if you are dealing with anxiety at work or serious mental health issues.
  • Supplement existing therapy: Anxiety apps can supplement treatment as they help to offer compliance to routine treatment through worksheets and tools.
  • Convenience: Anxiety apps come in the palm of your hands making it easy for you to access some tools to help you cope with depression, anxiety, and insomnia. They also offer convenient ways of practicing strategies learned in face-to-face therapies and include reminders that can be set to increase treatment and continuation of therapy.
  • Gathering data and trends: Some anxiety apps can generate data through graphs or tables showing improvements or areas that need improvement. This can help therapists determine which interventions are working best and which ones should be changed.

Best Free Apps for Anxiety

If you need help coping with anxiety, depression or insomnia try one of the free anxiety apps below:

1. Mindshift

MindShift CBT helps users manage their anxiety and stress using evidence-based anxiety management strategies based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This free self-help anxiety relief app helps to reduce stress, learn more about anxiety, develop more effective ways of thinking, be mindful, and relax. It comes with a user-friendly intuitive design, tools based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) designed for anxiety relief and self-management; daily check-in to keep track of your anxiety levels and mood tracking; facts and tips to overcome general worry, social anxiety, perfectionism, panic attack, and phobias; goal setting tools to keep users accountable; coping cards and statements to help users deal with anxiety; guided relaxation and mindfulness meditations; tips and tricks for incorporating healthy habits into your life and minimizing anxiety naturally; the ability to share data to streamline sessions with your counselor, therapist, or psychologist; and more.

 Available on: iOS and Android.

 2. Smiling Mind

Smiling Mind is a free app for meditation and mindfulness developed by psychologists and educators to help bring balance to users’ lives. It is designed to assist people in dealing with the pressure, stress, and challenges of daily life. It has dedicated sleep programs for adults, teens, and even kids. The app offers guided meditations that help users wind down at night to assist with both getting to sleep and improving overall sleep quality. It also touts being able to help increase productivity and attention; help in anxiety reduction and stress management; offer clearer and more focused thinking; and increased positive emotion, life satisfaction, and self-esteem beyond the workplace.

Available on: iOS and Android.

3. Dare: Panic & Anxiety Relief

Dare app offers users an interactive experience that helps users overcome anxiety, panic attacks, worry, and insomnia. It comes with information on anxiety, panic attacks and other topics. It has exercises to help users work through their anxieties and offers several meditations too. Users can also download the free audio guides to help them meditate and tackle insomnia. In addition to its free version, its robust paid subscription comes at a price tag of $9.99 a month.

Available on: iOS and Android.

4. Stop Panic & Anxiety Self-Help

Stop Panic & Anxiety Self-Help app helps users monitor and manage symptoms of panic. The app includes articles about anxiety and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and includes tools for relaxation, mindfulness, and teaching audios. With it, users have access to a mood log and analysis, cognitive diary, healthy goals, and more.

Available on: Android.

5. Bearable

Bearable is a simple, customizable health tracker that helps users track trends and patterns in relation to their mood, and symptoms through the use of calendars and graphs. With it, users can understand the impact of different treatments and medications on health issues such as anxiety, depression, pain, fatigue, and mood disorders. Users can also use Bearable to identify triggers, find the cause of flare-ups, help with medical appointments, manage existing health conditions, and to understand correlations between their habits and health. Users can customize reminders for diary entries, medication, and more while being able to sync their health data from Apple Health and Apple Health Kit. The free version comes with a basic version while subscriptions start at $4.49/month,

 Available on: iOS and Android.

6. Shine

Shine app can help you start your mental wellness through daily meditation and Self-Care Courses. It helps users to log and track their mood, y, get support from a diverse community, and explore an audio library of over 800 meditations, bedtime stories, and calming sounds to help you shift your mindset or mood. Its free version offers daily meditations, a daily article and the ability to log your gratitude its more robust paid version comes with a $14.99 a month subscription.

 Available on: iOS and Android.

Best Apps for Anxiety Disorders (Paid)

If you are relooking for anxiety apps that offer robust features and enhanced tools you might want to look towards paid apps where you pay upfront for the app or through subscriptions. Below are our picks of best-paid anxiety apps:

7. Calm App

Calm is a meditation app that helps to relieve anxiety. It achieves this by offering nature sounds and sleep stories to help users get into a relaxed sleep. The app is designed to cater to anyone, whether you’re new to meditation or a seasoned expert. It’s also for anyone who needs a mental break, a soothing sound, or a peaceful night’s rest. It comes with guided meditations that are available in lengths of three to 25 minutes. Additional features include sleep stories narrated by well-known voices like Matthew McConaughey, a music library with exclusive tracks from top artists like Keith Urban and Disney, short videos with mindful movement and gentle stretching for every body type and Masterclasses taught by world-renowned experts in the field of mindfulness, soundscapes and nature sounds to use during meditation or to help you sleep, breathing exercises to help you relax, and more.

Available on: iOS and Android.

Pricing: Calm comes with a $6.99 a month subscription while with the free version, the app offers a limited number of guided exercises and meditative audio to help relieve stress.

8. Sanvello

Sanvello formerly known as Pacifica is a health and wellness app that focuses on stress, anxiety, and depression. Users’ journey with Sanvello journey is customizable meaning the app checks in with how you’re feeling so you can track your emotions and progress over time. As patterns are identified, Sanvello will provide customized tools, rooted in cognitive behavioral therapy, to keep you on the path to feeling better. The app focuses on mindfulness and Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and comes with audio exercises that focus on meditation, deep breathing, and other activities. Users can also access tools that include a mood tracker, daily challenges, goal tracking, and a health tracker.

Available on: iOS and Android.

Pricing: Sanvello comes with a $3.99 monthly subscription while offering a limited free version.

9. Insight Timer – Meditation App

Insight Timer app offers meditation solutions to calm the mind, reduce anxiety, manage stress, sleep deeply and improve happiness. It comes with free guided meditations for both beginners and experienced practitioners. It also offers short meditation sessions when you are on the go, helping you to build a daily habit in addition to thousands of music tracks and ambient sounds to calm the mind, focus, sleep better and relax. This app also offers statistics and milestones for tracking your progress.

Available on: iOS and Android.

Pricing: Insight Premium Meditation comes with a $9.99 monthly subscription while offering a free version as well.

10. InnerHour

The InnerHour app is created by mental health professionals that offer a self-help tool, which provides users with a digital experience of therapy. The app has specific programs to help with worry, stress, sleeplessness, depression, and anger. It comes with self-help courses on depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, stress, anger, and happiness. Users can also access therapists through the app.

Available on: iOS and Android.

Pricing: InnerHour comes with a $4.99 monthly subscription while offering a limited free version.

11. HeadSpace

The headspace app helps users to meditate and sleep soundly. It offers guides on how to practice mindfulness in your everyday life. With it, you learn how to relax, manage stress, and focus your energy to become more centered and well-rested. Its features include daily meditations, sleep meditations, stress relief, coping meditations, and more. It offers over 40 meditation courses on topics that include stress and sleep

Available on: iOS and Android.

Pricing: Headspace comes with a $12.99 a month subscription while offering a seven-day free trial.

12. BetterMe: Mental Health

BetterMe mediation app helps users by offering simple meditations and guided courses for mental well-being. The app is a product of a collaboration with mental health specialists to offer tools and coping strategies from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help you tune in to the world surrounding you. The tools available include guided meditations, stress-relief practices, breathwork, and sleep meditations.

Available on: iOS and Android.

Pricing: BetterMe comes with a $9.99 a month subscription while offering a free version as well.

Take Steps to Improve Your Mental Health Today

Mental health issues are a very serious matter, as they affect how we think, feel, and behave in our daily life. They also affect our ability to cope with stress, overcome challenges, build relationships, and deal with life’s setbacks. Strong mental health isn’t simply about the absence of mental health problems but also about being emotionally resilient.

Emotionally and mentally resilient people can cope with difficult situations and maintain a positive outlook. This helps them remain focused, flexible, and productive during both good and bad times. Mental health is not only about mental health issues such as generalized anxiety disorder or elevated anxiety levels but also about making continuous improvements on how we deal with issues and strive to be better versions of ourselves

Speaking to a Mental Health Professional

If you regularly have anxious thoughts or experience anxiety symptoms seeking the help of a mental health professional can help you better understand yourself, your feelings, and generally make sense of everything going on in your life and how that makes you feel. They can also help you resolve complicated feelings or find ways to cope with them.

What is the best app for anxiety?

Calm is considered the best app for anxiety. It helps tackle insomnia that comes with feeling anxious. Through its sleep, meditation, relaxation and other tools Calm helps you not only deal with anxiety but remain productive and emotionally resilient.

Is there an app for people with social anxiety?

Headspace can help people deal with social anxiety. It offers guides on how to practice mindfulness in your everyday life. With it, you learn how to relax, manage stress, and focus your energy to become more centered and well-rested.

Is there a free app to help with anxiety?

MindShift helps users manage anxiety and stress using evidence-based anxiety management strategies based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This free self-help anxiety relief app helps to reduce stress, learn more about anxiety, develop more effective ways of thinking, be mindful, and relax.

What is a good game for anxiety?

SuperBetter is an app designed by Jane McGonigal and is inspired by her book SuperBetter. It helps to incorporate Role Playing Gaming (RPG) in real life to address challenges such as anxiety, depression insomnia, willpower, and others by offering activities to do to overcome them.

Image: Depositphotos


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Anxiety can cause physical symptoms, such as shaking, but there are ways to manage it.

You may think of your anxiety as something that only affects your brain, but for many people, anxiety presents with physical symptoms as well.

One of these is shaking. If you experienced your knees knocking or your hands trembling when anxiety grabs you, you might know how disconcerting this can be.

Anxiety disorders can include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorders, phobias, separation anxiety, and agoraphobia. Shaking associates with all of them, though not everyone with an anxiety disorder develops shaking.

The cause of anxiety shaking is your body entering a fight, flight, or freeze mode when you experience stress. When this happens, your heart rate may increase and your blood pressure can climb.

The stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol flood your system. Your muscles tense as all of this happens, then they release as the stressor fades, giving you the shakes.

Anxiety shaking usually lasts until the stress response ends, which can be a few seconds or a few minutes.

When a person experiences anxiety, they may experience a physical reaction to their stress. This physical reaction can lead to anxiety shaking. Sometimes anxiety shaking is part of a panic attack and sometimes the symptoms are less severe.

When a person experiences anxiety shaking, they may experience any combination of the following symptoms:

  • trembling hands
  • shaking muscles
  • heart palpitations
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling lightheaded or developing tunnel vision like you might faint
  • clamminess
  • nausea

Mindfulness

A small 2022 study revealed that mindfulness practice can help reduce stress and symptoms of anxiety. Apps like Headspace or Calm are popular ways to access mindfulness plans and track your progress.

The purpose of mindfulness is to remain in the present moment and accept the thoughts that pass through your mind without any judgment. This practice can help you regulate your emotions, such as feelings of anxiety, which can help prevent anxiety shaking symptoms.

Breathing exercises

Another small 2022 study found that breathing exercises, with a focus on breathing deeply into the diaphragm to increase oxygen flow, can help reduce anxiety symptoms.

Since one symptom of anxiety can be hyperventilation, focusing on your breath may help ward off more uncontrollable breathing, as well as help prevent your body from entering fight, flight, or freeze mode and developing the shakes.

Yoga

A different small 2022 study found that yoga, when practiced consistently over time, may help people with anxiety relax and experience fewer stress responses to their anxiety triggers. There are both free and paid apps that can help you begin a yoga practice, or, if COVID-19 protocols allow it in your area, you can find a local studio.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT can be very helpful in treating anxiety, according to a 2022 research review. CBT is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on changing thought patterns through exposure and learning to manage automatic responses.

If a certain anxiety trigger leads to the anxiety shakes for you, learning to rewire your brain to respond differently to that trigger might eliminate the symptom entirely.

Creative arts therapy

A 2021 review found that creative arts therapies, including art therapy, music therapy, dance and movement therapy, and bibliotherapy, help reduce anxiety symptoms in similar ways to CBT.

However, in creative art therapy, you create something a work of art, a musical composition, choreography that may help your brain focus more on that process than on your anxiety trigger.

Equine therapy

Equine therapy, done through horseback riding, can help reduce symptoms of social anxiety and social phobia, according to one small 2021 study performed in South Korea.

Because social anxiety and phobias often trigger shaking, if you have access to equine therapy, the benefits to you both physically and mentally could be significant.

Antidepressants

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can be a very effective treatment option for anxiety. In fact, SSRIs tend to be the most common class of antidepressants that doctors prescribe to treat anxiety and depression due to their limited side effects and their overall effectiveness in reducing symptoms.

While medication generally goes hand-in-hand with psychotherapy, using medication to reduce and moderate symptoms first may help people reach a point where they may be willing and able to access therapy.

If your anxiety disorder whether it’s generalized anxiety, social anxiety, phobia, or panic disorder leaves you shaking as a symptom, it can be helpful to understand why your body responds to your triggers that way.

Your body enters its fight, flight, or freeze response, during which your muscles tense then relax suddenly, leaving you shaky. It can also leave you feeling like your heart rate increases or like you might faint.

Treatment exists, whether it’s through self-care practices, therapy, medication, or a combination of the three, to manage your anxiety symptoms, such as shaking. Whichever treatment plan you choose, try to remember that you’re not alone and you can get better.

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Somniphobia means you're scared to sleep, and it can be caused by a host of different things.

Image Credit:
Tero Vesalainen/iStock/GettyImages

When you were little, you might've been afraid to drift off to dreamland, worried about a monster under your bed. As adults, most of us outgrow this nighttime fear.

But for people with somniphobia, falling sleep still triggers terror. Sometimes referred to as "sleep dread," somniphobia is a specific type of anxiety or fear related to sleep that typically increases as bedtime approaches, says sleep expert Wendy Troxel, PhD, a senior behavioral and social scientist at the RAND Corporation and author of ​Sharing the Covers: Every Couple's Guide to Better Sleep​​.

Fear of sleep isn't just an inconvenience — it can also affect your mental and physical health. So, if you're wondering ​why am I scared to sleep?​ (and your anxiety is getting in the way of your day-to-day functioning)​,​ read on to learn about the signs of somniphobia and effective ways to cope with this condition.

Somniphobia is just that: a phobia.

A phobia is defined as an extreme, irrational fear of something that presents little or no actual danger, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Approximately 12.5 percent of American adults wrestle with a specific phobia during their lifetimes, per the NIMH.

In the case of somniphobia, sleep — something our bodies need to function properly — is the thing that brings up severe anxiety.

Like other types of phobias, somniphobia can be very stressful and lead to serious consequences, most notably sleep deprivation, Troxel says.

Indeed, chronic sleep loss is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, obesity, depression and other cognitive issues, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Signs of somniphobia resemble the common symptoms of anxiety or panic, Troxel says. The main difference is timing: Somniphobia symptoms specifically occur close to bedtime, while trying to fall asleep or in the middle of the night, she explains.

  • Feeling
    stressed, overwhelmed, nervous, agitated, restless and fearful
  • Upset
    stomach
  • Rapid heart
    rate and/or breathing
  • Muscle
    tension
  • Shakiness or
    trembling
  • Sweating
  • Nocturnal
    panic (a sudden and intense burst of extreme fear or anxiety that occurs during
    sleep, causing one to wake up in a startled, often terrified state)

Experts don't really know what causes somniphobia (or other phobias, for that matter), Troxel says.

But one thing is for certain: You're more likely to experience somniphobia if you have anxiety or a sleep disorder, or if you have a family history of phobias or other mental health disorders, Troxel says.

For instance, sometimes somniphobia appears to arise in response to a difficulty with sleep. "Most often we see this in individuals who have a sleep disorder, such as insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea, who over time, after not sleeping well, develop anxiety around their ability to sleep soundly at night," Troxel says.

"Somniphobia also commonly occurs among individuals with other mental health disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)," Troxel says. People dealing with this distressing disorder may develop somniphobia (or even avoid sleep altogether) to prevent nightmares, a cardinal symptom of PTSD, she explains.

Many people with somniphobia will also actively avoid sleep by using excessive alcohol or caffeine, Troxel says.

"Unfortunately, these avoidance strategies only make the situation worse as one becomes more sleep-deprived," Troxel adds.

3 Ways to Manage Somniphobia

If you're battling fear at bedtime and it's affecting your quality of life, try these strategies to help you cope with the condition and hit the hay for good health.

"Treatment [for somniphobia] really depends on the underlying cause of the symptoms," Troxel says. "Therefore, the first step is to talk with a sleep or mental health professional to determine if another sleep disorder or mental health disorder is driving the symptoms."

The good news: Effective treatments exist, no matter the reason for your fear of sleep.

For example, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be very useful for those with insomnia-induced somniphobia. CBT "involves a set of behavioral 'prescriptions' to regularize sleep habits and work through unhelpful thoughts or fears about sleep," Troxel says.

"And for those who have nightmares, imagery rehearsal therapy (IRT) is a behavioral treatment proven to be effective in reducing nightmare frequency and intensity," Troxel says.

IRT entails "practicing" (via imagery) a more pleasant dream experience during the daytime to help shift your mindset and "break the habit" of having disturbing dreams at night, she explains.

2. Try Relaxation Techniques

"Finding ways to unwind and reduce anxiety at night, such as mediation, yoga or deep breathing exercises, can also be helpful," Troxel says.

Specifically, meditation is an amazing method to mellow out before bed. Case in point: An April 2015 study in ​​JAMA Internal Medicine​​ found that practicing mindfulness meditation reduced insomnia, fatigue, depression, anxiety and stress among adults with chronic sleep problems.

New to meditation? Sleep apps — which offer everything from guided sleep meditations to soothing nature sounds and calming music — are a great place to start for sound slumber.

3. Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

Healthy sleep behaviors like setting consistent bedtimes and wake times, and limiting bright screen use before bed are also critical for catching quality zzzs, Troxel says.

Similarly, steer clear of alcohol or caffeine at night, which can disrupt and sabotage your shut-eye, she adds.

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It's exam season, with teenagers across the country revising for their GCSEs or A-levels.

And that means a lot of youngsters will have heightened stress levels. So what can parents do to help their children during this time?

Online tutoring platform, MyTutor, has put together some advice on what you can do to help. Prof Barbara Oakley, educator and expert on teen learning, has shared her insights on top ways to support your overwhelmed teen preparing for their exams.

Read More:Exam anxiety counselling almost doubles ahead of GCSEs and A-Levels

1. Encourage your teen to work ‘retrieval practices’ like flashcards into their study routine

The best way for teens to learn a new topic is through retrieval practise. "When you’re first learning something, there’s faint links forming between neurons in their brain," Prof Oakley explains. "The more you retrieve that learning – the stronger the links become."

2. Have them look over key learning areas before bed

The brain is hard at work even when we’re sleeping. Prof Oakley told MyTutor that during sleep "neurons are connecting". So, telling your teen to glance over their notes right before bed for two-five minutes, helps consolidate their learning. So, when your teen is sleeping, by building "neural connections", their brain will actually work to keep this new information in their memory. Who knew sleeping could double as revising?

3. Breaks are important for learning

Like sleep, breaks are important in making learning stick. Prof Oakley explained that short study breaks are vital for the part of the brain that stores new information. She says the best way to organise study time is by using the Pomodoro technique. It’s really simple: you turn off all distractions, set a timer for 25 minutes of focused study, and have a five minute break once the timer goes off. That makes one Pomodoro round. Prof Oakley recommends doing three over the course of a study session.

She says it’s key for teens to avoid any focused activity in their break time – and that means they shouldn’t go on their phones where distractions might pop up. Staring into space or petting the cat are both a good use of break time. Having a snack and stretching works too.

4. Spacing out learning is better than cramming for hours

This might seem obvious, but we’ve all heard of someone we know who’s pulled an all-nighter: "Learning takes time," Prof Oakley says, "just like a weightlifter developing their muscle, it takes time to build neural structure."

Your teen needs time to learn from direct instruction (so from their notes, textbooks, teachers), and then they need to go back over what they’ve just learned. Ideally, all the way up to exams, they’d repeat this cycle: study from classroom learning, retrieval practice, study from classroom learning, retrieval practice, and so on…

5. Encourage them to study in different places

Studying in different places can help refresh your teen’s brain and boost their memory. So, if they normally study in their room, try giving them the option to set up shop in the kitchen, a quiet corner of the house, a library or even a cafe (if they don’t get distracted). They could try making mind maps in a noisier space, and keep the library for past paper practice. Having different places to travel to can also help motivate them too.

6. Slow learners can learn more deeply

There are two kinds of learners: declarative learners – or as Prof Oakley likes to call them – "race car learners" and there are procedural or "hiker learners". Declarative learners pick up things quickly, but they might be less flexible. Procedural learners take longer and are often more accurate.

Both fast and slow learners are just as good – one is not better than the other. But often in schools, fast learning is rewarded. If your teen’s stuck on their maths homework, encourage them to take time to work it out. That’s where home learning can be so valuable – it’s where your teen can learn at their own pace, and go over things as many times as they need to until they get it.

7. Starting off with rewards for learning isn’t as bad as once thought

Prof Oakley explained to MyTutor how her daughter was not a big reader in school. To encourage her along, she would give her little rewards every time she finished reading a book. Over time, it was easier for her daughter to read and get into a book. "She eventually became internally motivated," Prof Oakley says. This is a perfect example of how starting with small rewards – like pocket money or a treat on the weekend (to get things going) – can help them get over their fear of difficult subjects and become more self-motivated in the long run.

Do you have any tips to help youngsters stressed out about their exams? Let us know in the comments below

8. Calm exam stress with breathing exercises

As we all know, exams can bring on stress. Prof Oakley shared a useful tip for teens to use if they feel panicked when they’re revising or during an exam. It’s called "box breathing". She recommends teens to try breathing in for five seconds, holding for five seconds, and breathing out for five seconds.

She explains: "When you get very nervous you do shallow, panicked breathing. It doesn’t give you the oxygen you need." Practising this deep breathing technique a few days or even weeks before exams – so that it seems normal – will help your teen relax. If they feel panicked in the exam hall, using this technique can help them refocus and remember what they’ve revised too.

9. Help your teen reach out for support

There are times when they just need a helping hand from an expert. Whether that’s with a tutor (if their anxiety comes from learning gaps) or with a healthcare professional – there are people and organisations here to help teens. Here are a few good resources to tap into, as recommended by the NHS:

  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)
  • Kooth which delivers psychological support for teens
  • Mental health apps: Catch It, Blueice, Chill Panda

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Most people at this point have a COVID story, whether it’s an experience having it, knowing someone who’s had it, or knowing someone who’s sadly passed away from it, we’ve all been impacted in some way.

In honor of mental health awareness month, I’d like to share my experience with having COVID, the connection it had to past health stressors in childhood, and the deeper healing experience I was able to achieve.

My symptoms with COVID began very mild, eventually evolving into a dry cough and upper respiratory irritation, but thankfully nothing ever needing medical attention or a hospital. I took my vitamins and supplements, followed the CDC’s recommended guidelines for isolation, and waited the appropriate time until it was safe to be around loved ones again. But as the days went by, I started to notice chest tension, tightness, and lung irritation when engaging in daily activities.

After a couple days, even as the symptoms began to fade and the COVID virus was no longer detectible in my system, I began to notice myself feeling irritable and anxious. I noticed parts of me getting worried that the anxiety symptoms I had once experienced overwhelming in my life were coming back and would eventually take over. “Oh no!” I thought, I didn’t want to experience this overwhelm of anxiety again, and pretty soon, the worry and resistance to the anxiety began to increase my irritability with those around me and decrease my ability to stay present in the moment.

Natalie Deering is a mental health therapist and owner of ND Wellness Psychological Services in Northern Kentucky. Visit her website at www.ndwellnessservices.com.

One evening, I attended a virtual consultation group with six other IFS (internal family systems) therapists where I shared about the parts of me feeling anxious and irritable regarding the COVID symptoms that had impacted my breathing. As I shared with the group, it came to my attention that I felt my anxious and irritable parts were being triggered by past experiences I had had when younger. I remembered that at a young age I had been exposed to tuberculosis and eventually had many instances with pneumonia, bronchitis, and asthma symptoms. As I came to the realization about the connection between my childhood experiences and the current lung issues I was experiencing, I knew I needed to meet with my own IFS therapist to address this insight, and luckily I had a session already scheduled the following week.

As I waited for my IFS session to begin, I engaged in some embodiment work by rolling my feet, back, and chest with a therapy ball until it was time for my virtual appointment. As I used the therapy ball on my body and tension began to release, I suddenly heard the statement, “I can’t breathe!” The statement was loud and clear in my mind and I knew immediately this was connected to the part of me that was being triggered by my experience with chest tightness and upper respiratory issues.

During my therapy session, I was grateful that I was able to connect to the much younger part of me that was carrying the burden of fear and anxiety related to past health stressors regarding my lungs and breathing. I was able to witness my younger part’s experience, provide her with what she needed at the time but didn’t get, and then invite her to come to the present with me to release the burdens out of her body. Once her burdens of fear and anxiety were released, she was able to invite in the qualities of calm, confidence, and courage.

After my session, I felt lighter and freer, my lungs felt clear and open, and the younger part of me felt safe and calm. By inviting this younger part to release the burdens of fear and anxiety, I was able to finally believe with full confidence that my lungs were healthy and strong. The younger part of me was no longer stuck in the past activating my anxiety telling me I was in danger. She was able to see that there was no longer any reason for the anxiety and irritability to hold on, she was safe, I was safe, and therefore I could finally accept that I was healthy and my body had healed.

I hope that by sharing my experience with COVID and how it activated my past health trauma you can see how IFS can possibly help you with accessing calm and resiliency to stressors, both past and present. If you’re interested in knowing more about the healing and unburdening process of IFS, please check out the IFS Institute at www.IFS-Institute.com for more information and to find an IFS therapist in your area.

Our breath is a beautiful and amazing tool. There are many ways to invite balance and regulation with various types of breathing exercises. Here are some breathing techniques you can invite into your daily practice to help connect to your inner strength and resilience:

1. Spine Filled with Light: Sit comfortably. Eyes open or closed. Bring awareness to your breath. Bring attention to your spine. Feel its internal support extending from the steady base of your pelvis up through the crown of your head. Allow each breath to invite a little more space between vertebrae, gently elongating your spine. Image your spine is transforming from a solid structure into a warm, brilliant ray of light. Focus on this image of light infusing all of your being, allowing yourself to become brighter and more radiant as you sit for 5-10 minutes of meditation.

2. Alternate Nostril Breathing: Sit comfortably. Eyes open or closed. Place your right thumb gently on your right nostril and your right ring finger gently on your left nostril. Gently close your right nostril with your thumb and breath in through your left nostril. Gently close your left nostril with your left ring finger and breath out through your right nostril. Inhale through your right nostril with the left nostril still gently closed. Gently close your right nostril and exhale through your left nostril before breathing in again through the left nostril. Repeat for 2-5 minutes.

3. Mantra Breathing: Sit comfortable. Eyes open or closed. Say internally to yourself “I am” on the inhale, and then on the exhale say a word that resonates with what you need energetically. For example, “I am… Calm.”



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Meditation is one of the best ways to practice self-care. Simple and accessible to all, the benefits of meditation are numerous. From reducing stress and anxiety to calming the mind and improving focus, meditation is a perfect antidote to our fast-paced modern age.

For people who don’t make time to practice meditation, an app such as Balance provides a good solution. You can enable notifications to remind you to take time out. Then put your headphones on and let the app lead you to a more peaceful state of mind.


What Is Balance?

Balance is an app that aims to be a personal meditation coach and tailor your meditation experience to your needs and level of experience. Balance offers a premium subscription for additional features. In 2021, the developers of Balance offered new users their first full year for free. They said that money shouldn’t prevent anyone from improving their stress levels, sleep quality, or mental well-being. That offer remained active in 2022.

When you sign up, Balance invites you to make a monetary contribution towards the cost of offering free access worldwide. However, you can easily choose the complimentary offer as long as it's available.

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Download: Balance for iOS | Android (Free, subscription available)

Getting Started With Balance

When you first open Balance, you are asked a series of questions, and you are presented with a personal meditation plan based on your answers. Balance promises that you will participate in an ongoing personalization process by answering further questions each day to tailor the meditations the app offers you.

The main home screen shows your picks for the day. It offers your personal Foundations or Advanced plan, or you can choose meditations based on time of day, your mood, or the state of mind you want to achieve. If you’re about to study, you may want to choose the procrastination category. Or if you’re feeling disheartened, there is a motivation category.

There is also a daily meditation selected for you by the app based on the mood you checked in with. So you can tell Balance you’re feeling stressed, sad, or sick, and it will supply a meditation to help.

Meditating With Balance

The most immersive way to experience the meditations is by using headphones. Each one starts with an invitation to breathe slowly and deeply, calling you simply to pay attention to your breathing. As with all good meditation programs, Balance meets you where you are and invites you to be aware of your reality.

A calm instructor then guides you through some breathing exercises and they do so without needing to fill each second with chatter. The space left to breathe and find your own rhythm is welcome. The instructor is an actual human rather than a computer-generated voice, lending warmth to proceedings that some meditation apps lack.

Unlike other meditation apps, there is no expanding and contracting circle to measure your breathing. Instead, you are invited to close your eyes. Each meditation is accompanied by a simple black background, with colored stripes moving in waves across the screen. It is unobtrusive and keeps your focus solely on listening. You can also try meditating with the Calm app for a similar experience.

At the end, the instructor invites you to check in the following day for your next exercise. The app logs and charts your progress, registering the skills you developed. Users can integrate this data with Apple’s Health app.

Exploring Plans on Balance

In addition to your personalized plan, there is an extensive list of general plans for you to work through. These have category titles such as Embrace Change, Facing Fear, and Relaxation. Each category contains a set of 10 different meditations to help you tackle specific issues.

In any meditation category, you can change the program length and the voice. Both the male and female instructors have wonderfully calming voices, so you can take your pick with confidence.

Sleep Features on Balance

There is an extensive Sleep category within Balance. If you’re troubled by poor sleep or find it difficult to nod off, there are many options to help you at just about any time of day or night. Take a nap, unwind at bedtime, or get back to sleep if you awaken too early. There are relaxing activities such as visualizations and sleep stretches to help you end the day well, and a selection of sleep sounds such as campfires and ocean sounds. There is even a category specifically for kids.

If you're having issues, explore some other ways technology can help you get a good night's sleep.

Enjoy a Moment of Calm With Balance Singles

Just a few moments of meditation can make a huge difference to your day. Balance has a great feature for you to use for a momentary pause from anything causing stress. It is a lovely way to reset during a hectic day.

The Singles tab features over 30 categories for your quick meditation fix. Hit the Anxiety, Breathe, or Motivation buttons, or look at some of the more specialized categories that deal with Grief, Sick Day, or Breaking Habits. New categories are regularly added.

How is Balance Different From Other Apps?

Balance’s vast range of options contains meditations to appeal to everyone, no matter their age or state of mind. There are many apps with breathing exercises for mindfulness. What marks Balance out is its personalization feature, which allows you to tailor a program to really suit your needs.

With its straightforward, simple interface, the ability to save favorite meditations, and the facility to track and record your progress, Balance is hard to beat as a tool for learning or practicing meditation daily. With over 2 million users, it’s a popular choice, and it’s hard to resist when a free trial makes it easy to test for yourself.

Make Meditation Part of Your Daily Well-Being With Balance

With so many challenges to mental well-being in modern life, it is more important than ever to take a few moments out to center yourself and be calm. Beyond meditation, there are many ways to practice self-care, such as journaling or immersing yourself in nature sounds.



5 Gratitude Journaling Apps to Boost Mental Health by Writing Your Thanks

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Living with anxiety — whether you're suffering from short-term stress or a long-term disorder — can be challenging, but there are ways you can help yourself.

Starting with a small behaviour change, like adding in an afternoon walk, can make a noticeable difference in the way you feel. There are also plenty of smaller habits you can adopt to soothe your feelings when your anxiety levels are high.

To calm your anxiety long term, it's important to commit to making lifestyle changes, and develop a system to hold yourself accountable — such as leaning on friends or family for support and encouragement. 

"If you are open to acting differently than how you feel, most of my patients are amazed by how freer their lives become and regret not seeking help sooner," says Jennifer L. Taitz, a clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Having a toolbox of methods that help boost your mood and take your mind off your stressors can be useful for anyone suffering from anxiety. Here are 17 self-treatment methods that can help mitigate feelings of anxiety, whether you have an anxiety disorder or not. 

1. Exercise regularly 

Exercise can be very effective at relieving the symptoms of anxiety and boosting your mood.  

"Moderate physical activity such as walking for 60 minutes, 4 days per week, can be nearly as effective as medication for reducing anxiety," says Dawn Jonas, NMD, with the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine. 

A 2017 review of six randomised controlled studies concluded that "exercise significantly decreased anxiety symptoms more than control conditions." Another 2017 review found that resistance training — like weight lifting — also had a significant impact on reducing anxiety levels. 

In fact, even short, simple exercises like a 20-minute walk have been found to reduce stress. 

2. Stick to a sleep schedule

Anxiety can make it difficult to sleep, and not being well-rested can contribute to more anxiety. 

However, there are a few key ways to get better sleep with anxiety, such as having a sleep routine that includes going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. 

Overall, trying to get near the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night can help keep anxiety at bay. "Inadequate sleep increases the production of stress hormones that can exacerbate anxiety," Jonas says.  

3. Try mindfulness and relaxation techniques 

Mindfulness meditation and relaxation techniques can help calm anxiety. These can be useful as a daily practice, or when you feel a spike in anxiety coming on. 

"When we practice mindfulness or relaxation techniques, we learn how to calm down feelings of anxiety or not let them get in the way of our lives," says Alisa Kamis-Brinda, a psychotherapist at Serenity Solutions

In fact, a 2019 scientific review of 10 studies found that mindfulness-based interventions were more effective than cognitive-behavioural therapy for reducing distress associated with anxiety. 

Jonas recommends that people start with guided meditation apps like Headspace or Calm. A 2019 study of college students found that using Calm for just 10 minutes per day reduced stress. 

4. Practice biofeedback

Biofeedback is the process of monitoring your body's physical reactions to anxiety in order to better regulate them. 

For example, you might notice that your heart is racing when you're feeling anxious. Then, you can monitor your heart rate while taking deep breaths, and watch as your heart lowers during that relaxation technique."Biofeedback can help us regulate our breath, reduce muscle tension, and increase heart rate variability, which are all correlated with decreased levels of anxiety," says Jonas. A 2015 study of nursing students found that practicing biofeedback reduced their reported anxiety levels over a period of four weeks. Jonas recommends apps like Resility Personal Biofeedback or Elite HRV to help you get started. 

5. Eat healthy and avoid substances 

What you put in your body affects how you feel, for better or for worse. Here's what to eat and what to avoid to improve your mood:

  • Avoid fat, sugar, and carbs: Research has found that a diet high in fat, sugar, and refined carbohydrates may increase the risk of anxiety. 
  • Eat whole foods: On the other hand, eating a diet rich in natural, wholesome foods like fruits, vegetables, and legumes, while avoiding sugary snacks, can help control anxiety and boost your mood
  • Try fermented foods: Eating fermented foods may also have benefits for people with anxiety. A 2015 study found that people with high neuroticism — a tendency to experience negative emotions —  who ate more fermented foods had fewer symptoms of social anxiety
  • Add omega-3s to your diet: Another study found that omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fish like salmon and sardines, reduced anxiety in medical students. 
  • Avoid alcohol: Many people with anxiety get temporary relief from symptoms when they drink, but experience increased symptoms when they stop drinking. That leads some people with anxiety to drink even more. For example, social anxiety disorder is closely linked to alcohol use disorder, according to a 2019 twin study

6. Try supplements like magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral supplement that has been shown to decrease anxiety. For example, a 2017 review of 18 studies found that people who took magnesium supplements reported decreased feelings of anxiety. "Magnesium has muscle-relaxing effects on the body and anxiolytic [anxiety reducing] effects on the brain," Jonas says. According to Jonas, magnesium is relatively safe and well-tolerated by most people — she recommends starting with a dose of 500 to 800 milligrams, taken at bedtime.

7. Reduce caffeine 

Caffeine elevates the heart rate and blood pressure, which can make you feel more alert and focused. However, if you experience anxiety, these same side effects can also trigger alarm signals in your body that may elevate your anxiety, says Moe Gelbart, PhD, director of behavioural health at Torrance Memorial Medical Center.That's why anxiety is a recognised side effect of caffeine. But how much is too much? About 400 mg of caffeine a day can increase your anxiety. That's about the amount found in four 8-ounce cups of brewed coffee.

8. Breathe slowly and deeply

Taking slow, deep breaths is associated with a sense of calm and reduced anxiety. Breathing in a slow, deep, controlled manner helps the body relax, which is critical for fighting the physical tension that comes up in response to anxiety, Gelbart says. Taking slow deep breaths activates the body's parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for relaxation and calm. That can help quell anxiety, Gelbart says. Gelbart recommends using an app to guide your breathwork in order to reduce anxiety.Belly breathing is one type of slow, deep breathing that can help interrupt anxiety. To try it, sit or lie in a comfortable position, with one hand on your stomach and one on your chest. Breath in through your nose, watching the hand on your belly rise. The hand on your chest shouldn't move.After you've pushed the belly hand out as far as you can, slowly exhale through your mouth with your lips pursed, watching the belly hand fall. Repeat that 3-10 times, or until you feel calmer. 

9. Try yoga

Study after study has found that yoga can reduce anxiety. That's because yoga combines two important anxiety-busting tools: physical exercise and breathwork that leads to relaxation. Both of these have independently been linked to reductions in anxiety levels; together, they're even more powerful. Yoga challenges participants to exercise, while also slowing their breathing, which can activate the parasympathetic nervous system. Yoga can improve mood and anxiety more than walking at a pace that burns a similar amount of calories, one small 2010 study found. Participants in the study were assigned to either walk or do a yoga routine for 60 minutes, three times a week. Those who did yoga had fewer symptoms of anxiety, the researchers found. 

10. Get outside

Spending time outdoors can help calm anxiety in many ways, Gelbart says. First, there's a good chance that while you're outside, you're exercising, which studies have linked to calming anxiety

In addition to getting your body moving, being outside can calm your mind, but connecting you on the spiritual or emotional level to something larger than yourself – mother nature, Gelbart says. 

"Being out in nature, which is calming and relaxing, allows one to alter their perceptions and priorities of things," he says. This can make your worries seem less significant.

One study found that people who grow up with limited access to green spaces have up to a 55% increased risk for developing mental health conditions like anxiety disorders. If you can't get to green space, even mimicking one can help: Research has shown that listening to nature sounds can reduce anxiety in hospital patients. 

11. Journal 

Keeping a journal every day can help interrupt the cycle of anxiety in two different ways, Gelbart says. 

One great practice is to keep a gratitude journal, where you list a few things that you are grateful for every day. A 2021 study found that practicing gratitude can have a "modest" impact on reducing feelings of anxiety. 

"It's not directly related to anxiety, but feeling good and happy begins to reduce anxiety over time," Gelbart says. 

Another approach to journaling is to write down your fears or worries. This can help you recognise your thought patterns in order to challenge or interrupt them, Gelbart says. 

A 2018 study found that people who journaled about their emotions for 15 minutes 3 days per week for 12 weeks had improved wellness and less anxiety compared to a control group. 

12. Laugh 

It might be hard to laugh when you're feeling anxious, and that's just the point — laughter and humour interrupt the cycle of anxiety. 

Even if the relief is only momentary, research has shown that laughter can boost psychological well-being. The key is that you have to be genuinely laughing — self-induced laughter doesn't have the same impact as spontaneous laughter. So, if you feel anxiety creeping in, pull up your favourite comedic videos and let your laughter loose. 

13. Try aromatherapy

When you're feeling anxious, it may be helpful to add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to a diffuser. Though the research is still controversial and the results are mixed, some studies and analyses have found that essential oils may reduce anxiety, at least temporarily. Some essential oils that may provide relief include:

Lavender

According to a 2017 review, lavender essential oil may be able to help calm your anxiety. However, a 2019 review points out that many of the studies looking at lavender's effect on anxiety are low quality. Regardless, if you like its scent and find that it increases your well-being, you may want to keep it in your anti-anxiety toolbox.

Peppermint

Peppermint oil is known for its ability to soothe tension headaches. But it may also be able to reduce anxiety. In one small 2022 study of hospital patients with acute coronary syndrome, inhaling peppermint oil was associated with decreased anxiety. Another small 2017 study found that inhaling peppermint oil also soothed anxiety in patients who were about to undergo colonoscopies. 

Citrus

Citrus oils including sweet orange, bergamot, and orange essence could have mood-boosting effects. According to a 2020 review, several small human studies have found that inhaling sweet orange oil helps lower levels of anxiety and increase feelings of relaxation and calmness. The same review cited several small studies that found similar results from bergamot essential oil, including one small 2015 study where it decreased levels of salivary cortisol (the stress hormone) in healthy women.Other essential oils that may help anxiety include clary sage, chamomile, lemon, and geranium. Try adding a few drops to an essential oil diffuser, or something absorbent like a cotton ball, and placing it nearby.

14. Repeat a positive affirmation

When you notice yourself feeling anxious, try repeating a mantra or affirmation such as "I am safe" or "I am calm."

Mantra repetition is a staple of transcendental meditation, which is associated with a reduction in stress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. While transcendental meditation is centered around a specific mantra assigned to you by an instructor, you can still gain benefits from coming up with your own mantra or positive affirmation.

Here's what the research says:

  • In one small 2015 study, repeating a one-word mantra reduced activity in the brain, which, for people who suffer from racing thoughts or ruminations, could be useful for calming anxiety.
  • According to a 2022 review, various forms of mantra meditation were associated with a "small-to-moderate" reduction in anxiety, stress, and depression.
  • In a small 2016 study of female heart disease patients, using positive affirmations caused a significant decrease in stress, anxiety, and depression. 

Some examples of positive affirmations that you can try include:

  • "I trust myself"
  • "I am relaxed and at peace"
  • "My life is a gift"
  • "I have faith in my abilities"

15. Take a social media break

Social media has both positive and negative effects on mental health. 

While it can help foster a sense of community and acceptance with people online, it can also cause you to engage in detrimental habits like doomscrolling, a word that describes an obsession with scrolling through social media and news sites. This exposure to the 24-hour news cycle can be mentally taxing and damaging to your mental health.

If you think social media is contributing to your anxiety, it can be beneficial to log out, even for a short amount of time.

In fact, a 2022 study found that a one-week break from social media was enough to improve well-being and reduce depression and anxiety.

16. Spend time with loved ones

Combat loneliness and boost your mood by spending time with a loved one, whether they're a human or an animal.  Spending time with a pet comes with many benefits. For example, having a dog can help combat loneliness, help PTSD symptoms, and help you be more mindful. When you're feeling anxious, try gazing into your dog's eyes. A 2009 study found that doing so increased oxytocin levels. This hormone is associated with relationship building, physical affection, and a sense of safety.

Nurturing your human relationships can also prove beneficial in improving your mental health. Friendships are associated with reduced loneliness and improved happiness and self-esteem. When you're feeling anxious, it can help to talk to a friend or family member who can offer a different perspective or talk about a similar experience.

17. Brew some tea

Taking a quiet moment during the day to brew a cup of tea can be a beneficial mindfulness practice. But what's in the cup may also help induce calm, relaxed feelings.Here are some of the best teas to drink to ease anxiety:

  • Lavender: In a small 2020 study focusing on elderly individuals, drinking lavender tea twice a day reduced feelings of depression and anxiety among participants.
  • Green: Though it might seem counterintuitive to drink caffeine when you're feeling anxious, green tea could prove itself an exception. It contains an amino acid called L-theanine, which counteracts the increased blood pressure and general jitteriness associated with caffeine. It also has relaxation and anti-anxiety effects, according to a 2022 review. If you suffer from morning anxiety, try replacing coffee with a cup of green tea.
  • Chamomile: Chamomile tea contains a flavonoid called apigenin, which has similar effects in the brain as benzodiazepines, a type of anti-anxiety drug. Sipping on chamomile tea can promote relaxation, sleep, and a sense of calm.

Insider's takeaway 

Calming anxiety is part of navigating the human experience, Gelbart says. "Everyone has anxious moments," he said. Oftentimes, those moments can be managed by addressing the physical and mental symptoms of anxiety. Deep breaths might slow your heart rate (interrupting physical symptoms), while laughter can distract you (interrupting mental symptoms like spiraling thoughts).However, if your anxiety begins interfering with your ability to go about your daily activities, it's time to seek professional treatment, which might involve counseling, medication, or both. "There is a difference between anxiety, which we all feel, and anxiety disorders, which become dysfunctional and make life difficult," Gelbart says. If you think you might have an anxiety disorder, "it's important to make an intervention so you can live life."

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Smoking narrows the blood vessels at a quick pace thereby raising blood pressure drastically It is not the direct cause of hypertension however it can make conditions worse for high BP patients

Smoking narrows the blood vessels at a quick pace thereby raising blood pressure drastically. It is not the direct cause of hypertension; however, it can make conditions worse for high BP patients.

Photo : iStock

KEY HIGHLIGHTS

  1. High blood pressure or hypertension is an underrated yet risky health crisis that could damage the heart, kidneys, and eyes alike.
  2. It has no noticeable symptoms in people across age groups – however, it is quite likely to affect young and older adults alike.
  3. Overweight and obese people are most prone to it – yet, it can affect others as well.
New Delhi: High blood pressure or hypertension is an underrated yet risky health crisis that could damage the heart, kidneys, and eyes alike. It has no noticeable symptoms in people across age groups – however, it is quite likely to affect young and older adults alike. Overweight and obese people are most prone to it – yet, it can affect others as well.

If you have been diagnosed with hypertension, take a look at some expert-recommended tips to control high blood within minutes – and these have nothing to do with the use of medication.

  1. Breathe: Sometimes, blood pressure can shoot because of stress or anxiety. Try some breathing exercises or take a few deep breaths to calm down and curb the spike.
  2. Identify the stressors: Be it work pressure or examination stress or a reaction to certain foods, medication or events, it is important to identify the stressors or driving factors that spike blood pressure. Try to avoid the stressors or remove yourself from the environment.
  3. Reassess your diet: If you are accustomed to eating salty foods or packaged and processed foods high in sodium, try changing your diet. Reduce sodium and salt intake and replace it with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  4. Avoid alcohol: Alcohol can also raise blood pressure over time – especially if one fails to strike a balance. Experts recommend not more than 14 units of alcohol a week for both men and women on average.
  5. Manage caffeine intake: If you are accustomed to drinking caffeinated drinks too often – from energy drinks to coffee – watch out for the risk of hypertension. Do not drink more than three cups of coffee a day and make sure to drink lots of water to prevent dehydration.
  6. Quit smoking: Smoking narrows the blood vessels at a quick pace thereby raising blood pressure drastically. It is not the direct cause of hypertension; however, it can make conditions worse for high BP patients.

Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before starting any fitness programme or making any changes to your diet.

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We all know what the stress in physical terms – although symptoms vary from person to person. Some people experience tremors or palpitations, others develop muscle tension, headaches or stomach pains. But what we don’t always realize is that our physiological responses to the stresses and strains of life can have deeper and less obvious repercussions on virtually every organ and system in the body.

“I think people really underestimate the size of the effects,” said Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, director of the Behavioral Medicine Research Institute at the Ohio State University School of Medicine. When you’re under stress, your brain triggers the release of a cascade of hormones — such as cortisol, epinephrine (also known as adrenaline), and norepinephrine — that produce physiological changes. These changes, called the stress response or fight-or-flight response, are designed to help people react to or deal with the threat or danger they are facing.

The problem is that these changes can and do occur in response to non-life-threatening stressors—situations like work deadlines, traffic jams, financial pressures, and family conflicts—and, over time, can affect the body and mind. “People understand the big stressors, but they don’t pay attention to the smaller stressors that build up and also make a difference,” said Kiecolt-Glaser.

What follows is a detailed look at how stress can affect various organs and systems in the body, from head to toe.

Brain

Acute forms of stress — when you’re facing a work deadline or arguing with a loved one, for example — can actually be beneficial in the short term, bathing the brain with hormones (like cortisol) that help improve your motivation and ability. of focus and performance, according to Wendy Suzuki, a professor of neuroscience and psychology at New York University and author of Good Anxiety: Harnessing the Power of the Most Misunderstood Emotion.

On the other hand, the prolonged elevated cortisol levels that accompany chronic stress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can interfere with and damage the brain’s hippocampus, which is critical for long-term memory function, Suzuki said. . In the long term, increases in cortisol can also damage the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which is essential for focused attention and executive function (cognitive processes that allow you to plan, organize, solve problems, engage in flexible thinking and control). their impulses).

Cardiovascular system

With acute stress, your heart rate speeds up and your blood pressure rises so that (evolutionarily speaking) you can prepare to fight or flee for your life. After the stressful encounter passes, these functions should return to their normal states. But this is not always the case in the modern world, where we often find only stressors after stressors.

Chronic stress, which occurs over months to years, can lead to high blood pressure, adiposity (accumulation of fat), insulin resistance and increased systemic inflammation, explained Ahmed Tawakol, co-director of the Center for Cardiovascular Research and director of nuclear cardiology at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. “Together, they drive the buildup of arterial plaque and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.”

Over time, stress can also lead to narrowing of blood vessels and increased blood clotting, which further increases the risk of heart events. It’s also possible that when someone faces an acute stressor in addition to chronic stress, it “has an additive effect such that acute stress can trigger a heart attack or stroke,” Tawakol said.

Respiratory system

During a stressful situation, the sympathetic nervous system speeds up and stress hormones are released, which leads to rapid breathing and can make you find it difficult to catch your breath. This can affect the transport of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. “Rapid, shallow breathing is not a good thing – you’re not getting rid of carbon dioxide optimally and you can starve yourself of oxygen, which can lead to symptoms like dizziness and vertigo,” noted Neil Schachter, a lung specialist. and professor of medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.

Both acute and chronic stress can trigger asthma attacks or exacerbate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in people who have these conditions. A review of studies in a 2017 issue of the journal Respiratory Medicine found that active stressors (like having to complete a math task) and passive stressors (like watching stressful movies) led to increases in sympathetic nervous system activation, and the passive form of stress was also associated with mild bronchoconstriction among people with asthma .

Immune system

During a stressful event or period of time, stress hormones such as cortisol travel to the immune system and have various disruptive effects. One is by triggering heightened inflammation, which is at the root of many conditions, including cardiovascular disease and dementia, noted Kiecolt-Glaser. “When you’re under stress, you can have a release of pro-inflammatory cytokines,” proteins that affect immune function.

While short-term inflammation usually helps the body heal — think of the swelling that develops around a sprained ankle, increasing blood flow to the area — excessive or chronic inflammation can turn against healthy cells, making them more vulnerable to infections, less responsive to vaccines and slower to heal.

Furthermore, the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines can travel to the brain and increase the risk of depression. When it comes to stress and depression, “it’s an unpleasant cycle,” said Kiecolt-Glaser. “When you are depressed, you end up sleeping poorly and being less likely to exercise, which can increase inflammation and depression.”

gastrointestinal system

Stress decreases gastrointestinal motility (slowing down of bowel emptying), which can make you feel sick, bloated or constipated, explained gastroenterologist Cindy Yoshida, a professor of medicine at the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville. But the main news is: stress causes changes in the gut microbiome, impairing bacterial diversity, which affects gut barrier function in ways that increase gut permeability. This means that bacterial byproducts from the food you eat can leak from your intestinal tract into your circulation, which in turn triggers inflammatory and hormonal responses, Yoshida explained.

Among other effects, these changes can exacerbate irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). In fact, a study in a 2020 edition of PLOS One found that psychological stress was related to flare-ups of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis among 1,078 people with IBD — and 75% of participants were aware of this effect. To make matters worse, “there’s enough communication between the gut and what’s going on in the brain: stress can increase gut permeability, and gut permeability can also cause anxiety and depression,” Yoshida said.

Skin

If you’ve ever had a flare-up of acne or eczema when you were stressed, you’re well aware of the effects of stress on the skin, which is the largest organ in the human body. “We used to think of the skin as a wrapper, keeping our insides in and the rest out,” according to Rick Fried, a dermatologist and clinical psychologist and clinical director of Yardley Dermatology Associates and the Yardley Research Clinic in Yardley, Pennsylvania. . “Over the years, we’ve come to realize that the skin is a very active organ in its own right – it has its own immune system and it’s interacting with the brain at every moment.”

As a result, when you experience acute or chronic stress, the skin’s immune system is activated, which promotes inflammation, leading to a worsening of skin conditions such as rosacea, psoriasis, hives, and eczema.

Stress can also interfere with the skin’s ability to retain water — and the cascade of stress hormones that are released causes the skin’s sebaceous glands to produce more oil, which can trigger acne, said Joshua Zeichner, an associate professor of dermatology at the Hospital. Mount Sinai in New York.

“A few days after a stressful event, we see the effects on the skin. The impact of stress on the skin is real.” And to make matters worse, it can lead to a vicious cycle where stress can cause a skin condition that, in turn, creates more distress and exacerbates or prolongs the skin condition, Fried added.

What to do

Understanding how stress affects the body can help you realize the importance of mitigating it. And for the most part, the harmful effects of stress are somewhat variable, experts said.

If you exercise regularly, get good quality sleep, and take steps to reduce and/or manage your stress, “you can reduce brain stress activity, systemic inflammation, and your risk of developing cardiovascular disease,” Tawakol said.

You can also decrease your stress reactivity by doing deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, yoga, or aerobic exercise, which will help calm your body’s stress response, Fried advised.

Adopting these strategies is a good idea, as stressful events and situations – big and small – aren’t going to go away anytime soon.

Remember: “It’s not just the big stressors that matter — the smaller stressors that build up matter too,” said Kiecolt-Glaser, “especially if you don’t manage them.”

– – –

Stacey Colino is a writer in Chevy Chase, Maryland, specializing in health and psychology and co-author of Emotional Inflammation: Discover Your Triggers and Reclaim Your Equilibrium During Anxious Times.

TRANSLATION BY RENATO PRELORENTZOU



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HIGH blood pressure can be dangerous and puts you at risk of developing serious health conditions.

It rarely has noticeable symptoms and those who are most at risk include older adults and people who are overweight.

Hypertension can be dangerous and one expert has revealed how you can beat it in minutes

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Hypertension can be dangerous and one expert has revealed how you can beat it in minutesCredit: Alamy Stock Vector

As there are no major signs of the illness, it's important that if you think you have high blood pressure then you get it checked out.

The NHS recently introduced free blood pressure check services in community pharmacies in England.

This service is also available at over 650 Boots pharmacies across the country, for people over the age of 40 who have previously not had a confirmed diagnosis of hypertension.

If you are found to have the condition though, one expert has revealed how you can lower your levels in minutes.

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Speaking to The Sun, Marc Donovan, Chief Pharmacist at Boots says the illness is particularly dangerous as it puts extra strain on your blood vessels, heart and other organs, such as the brain, kidneys and eyes.

"If high blood pressure is persistent and left untreated, it can increase the risk of serious health conditions, such as heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.

"There may be some lifestyle changes, such as eating healthily, taking regular exercise and stopping smoking, which can help to reduce it, but some people need to take medication as well".

Here's Marc's top tips on lowering your high blood pressure fast.

Identify stress

Stress will raise your blood pressure and Marc explains that if you're stressed, the first step to feeling better is to identify the cause and remove yourself from that environment, if possible.

He says: "Your body produces a burst of hormones, like adrenaline, and when you're feeling stressed or in a stressful situation, these hormones temporarily increase your blood pressure by constricting blood vessels, making it harder to circulate blood around your body."

Breathe

Dealing with stress is hard and one easy way to do this is to take a deep breath.

"By introducing deep breathing exercises you can help to reduce the surge of stress, which can cause a spike in your blood pressure", Marc says.

Learn to cope

To help cope with this you could try some tools like mindfulness, mediation or a yoga class, Marc suggests.

He also said that finding time to chat with your friends or family can really help, as well as getting fresh air.   

“If you are feeling stressed regularly and you feel that you are unable to cope with your stress, you should speak to your GP who can help you with ways to manage stress," he says.

Assess your diet

When trying to manage your condition on a day to day basis, Marc says you should try and eat a low-fat diet that includes lots of fibre and plenty of fruit and vegetables, aiming to eat five portions of a day.

"It’s important to make sure that your daily intake of salt is less than six grams a day, which is about a teaspoonful, as this is a known cause of high blood pressure," he says.

Consider booze

Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure over time.

Marc says staying within the recommended intake levels reduces the risk of developing the illness.

The NHS states that men and women are not advised to drink more than 14 units per week.

One unit of alcohol will depend on the strength of the drink.

For a pint of beer that is four per cent, this would be 2.3 units and a single sprit, such as gin or vodka would be one unit.

Be active

Regular exercise can lower blood pressure and is great for your heart and blood vessels.

Marc says that regular exercise, meaning 30 minutes of exercise per day, can include anything from a brisk walk or gardening to sport.

Reduce caffeine

Drinking more than four cups of coffee a day can cause an increase in your blood pressure. 

Marc explains: "If you're a big fan of coffee, tea or other caffeinated drinks, including energy drinks, consider cutting down or opting for caffeine-free alternatives.

"Ensure you are drinking plenty of water too, with the recommended six to eight cups or glasses per day to help stay hydrated.”

Stop smoking

Marc says that if you are a smoker, you should stop.

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He says: "It doesn’t directly cause high blood pressure, but if your blood pressure is high, smoking will narrow your blood vessels much more quickly and your risk of heart or lung disease in the future if increased dramatically.

"Your GP or pharmacist will be able to provide you with stop-smoking support.”

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As I lie in bed spooning my wee robot, one hand on its gently undulating belly as it slows my breathing, I’m struck by the memory of co-sleeping with my kids when they were babies. It can be soothing to share your bed. Research suggests we report better sleep when bed-sharing, even when objective measures reveal sleep quality has worsened. (It helps that my current sleep partner plays soothing rain sounds and does not need a bottle at 3 am.)

Somnox 2 is a limbless bean-shaped torso designed to gradually slow your breathing, as you unconsciously match its rhythm. It can adjust to your breathing rate to calm you and help you drop off. Boosting its soporific power is a speaker that plays dreamy soundscapes or nature sounds. You can tweak everything via an app on your phone.

The original Somnox was born of a Kickstarter campaign in 2017, and this improved model has been in the works for four years. Smaller and lighter, the new version boasts a larger breathing area, longer battery life, and an improved speaker. But other major upgrades, such as Bluetooth audio streaming and sleep tracking, are still “coming soon,” making the $600 price tag much harder to swallow than a sleeping pill.

Sleep Well

Somnox 2 is just over 12 inches long and weighs less than 4 pounds. It is covered in a soft fabric with memory foam underneath and has a simple control panel to turn it on or off and adjust the volume. A pneumatic system inside fills and empties an air bladder in an impressive simulation of natural breathing. It is eminently easy to cuddle, spoon, or rest a hand on. 

The Somnox app offers a variety of breathing exercises. You can use the bot to help you calm down or even boost alertness during the day, but it is mainly for helping you get off to sleep at night. If you toggle on “Somnox Sense” and hold it against your body, it will adjust to your breathing rate and help you to take longer and deeper breaths, gradually slowing your heart rate and making it easier to sleep. It combines a six-axis accelerator and three-axis gyroscope with a proprietary algorithm to achieve this.

The default settings worked well for me, and I relaxed and fell asleep faster with Somnox 2 than without. Somnox starts at a breathing pace of 12 breaths per minute and steadily decreases to six. It uses a standard ratio of 1:2, so the exhale is twice as long as the inhale. If you feel the need, you can set a specific breathing rate, tweak the ratio, and change the breathing intensity of your sleep bot (how loudly and deeply it breathes).

The science behind Somnox is sound, and the latest version had input from sleep experts and scientists. A clinical trial is underway that will be published later this year. But the impact of controlled breathing on our ability to relax is not in doubt. The thing is, you don’t need a $600 robot to do it. There are countless apps, like Calm or Breathwrk, that can help. Somnox’s array of soundscapes and natural sounds is also similar to what many apps and other sleep gadgets offer.

It is nice to cuddle up to someone or something when you’re in bed, but the physical presence is all that makes Somnox unique. Whether that’s enough to justify the high price is debatable, especially when you consider the other downsides.

Dreaming of Dystopia

While Somnox 2 helped me drop off, it did not help me stay asleep. My sleep tracker, Withings Sleep Tracking Pad ($99), showed no change in the average duration or quality of my slumber. I found waking with a dead weight next to me slightly unpleasant. Sometimes turning in my sleep would knock it out of bed to thump on the floor.

We had connection issues with the original Somnox, and I was disappointed to find that its successor, though more reliable, still sometimes fails to connect to the app for no apparent reason. The need to tap through a connection process every time I open the app is annoying.

Once set, you can trigger your sleep program with the power button on the Somnox 2, but it only plays one program at a time. To change it or tweak the settings or sounds, you must make selections in the app and upload them to your Somnox. The process is clunky and takes longer than it should.

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breathing
Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Take a deep breath in. Now, slowly, let it out. This simple activity is something we do all day long and seldom think about. But our lives depend on it. Every cell in the body needs oxygen, which is in the air we breathe.

Your lungs receive this oxygen and then move it into the bloodstream. Each cell in the body exchanges oxygen for carbon dioxide, a so-called "waste gas" that your bloodstream carries back to the lungs, where it is exhaled.

Even if you learned all of this in high school biology class, you likely haven't thought a lot about your lungs—that is, until you've had reason to do so. COVID-19 had many of us focusing on our respiratory health, of course, but conditions like the common cold, seasonal allergies, and asthma also cause irritation to these highly sensitive organs.

And, while you are aware that smoking, pollution, and viruses can injure the lungs, you may not realize that obesity and stress can harm them, too.

"Lung health affects the health of all our other organs and organ systems, especially our brain, circulation, gut, immune function, and musculoskeletal system," says Stephen Baldassarri, MD, MHS, a Yale Medicine pulmonary, critical care, and addiction medicine specialist. "Our lungs and airways are directly connected to the outside world. With every breath, we are inhaling what's in our environment. And, ideally, we should only inhale clean air."

We talked more with Dr. Baldassarri and other Yale Medicine specialists, from allergy and immunology to obesity medicine, about lung health.

How obesity affects your lungs

There's a reason people who are overweight or obese easily get out of breath going up a flight of stairs or doing other physical activities.

"An important aspect of obesity is how it affects lung volume," explains Jorge Moreno, MD, a Yale Medicine obesity medicine specialist. "If someone is obese, they can't always get a full breath or full volume into their lungs, which can create breathing problems."

Specifically, extra abdominal fat inhibits the ability of the diaphragm (a wall of muscle between the chest and abdomen) to properly draw in air and expand the lungs. People who are obese usually have smaller lung volume because of this, which leads to breathlessness, Dr. Moreno says.

There are also hormonal factors at play, for both men and women. As fat builds up under the skin, the fat cells secrete hormones. These hormones can cause inflammation throughout the body, including in the lungs, Dr. Moreno explains.

Severe lung inflammation was an early problem among many COVID-19 patients. It was no surprise to physicians, such as Dr. Moreno, that obesity emerged as a leading risk factor for severe illness from COVID-19.

"There are two stages to COVID. The first involves cold-like symptoms, which are typical and, in many cases, they resolve," Dr. Moreno says. "The other is the inflammatory stage, in which the lungs can become inflamed and damaged, potentially leading to problems with the heart and other organs. This is what led to severe disease and death."

Obesity is what Dr. Moreno calls "a pro-inflammatory state." If you add the effects of the virus on top of it, the theory is that inflammation is increased even more, he adds.

Even for people who managed not to get sick with COVID, the pandemic presented challenges. For instance, working from home, being glued to a computer much of the day, and putting in more hours, can make it difficult to find time to eat well and exercise.

"One piece of advice is to try and plan meals better. We can be flexible if we are at home, but that might mean grazing on whatever is in the fridge," suggests Dr. Moreno. "Instead, try to be mindful of what you are eating. This goes for alcohol, too."

Dr. Baldassarri recommends daily exercise and a diet consisting mainly of whole foods, vegetables, fruits, high fiber, and plant-based protein. "Try to engage in moderate-to-vigorous exercise at least 20 minutes every day," he says. "If you can do more than that, it's even better. But any amount of exercise, even a few minutes per day, is better than none. A healthy diet and exercise are great for lung-specific and overall health."

How stress harms the lungs

In stressful situations, your body releases hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, that can contribute to rapid breathing. If your lungs are healthy, this is not dangerous. However, in people with chronic lung conditions, such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or asthma, the lungs can't move as much air in and out as they should. This can increase shortness of breath and can contribute to a sensation of panic.

More cortisol release can also cause other challenges, including increased appetite. Or, for those who smoke, stress can cause cravings to smoke more, notes Dr. Baldassarri.

"We know that cigarette and alcohol sales increased during the pandemic," Dr. Baldassarri says. "Those trends likely reflect the stress we have been feeling. Stress influences our entire body and is such an important determinant of our health."

The best thing for lung health is to practice a healthy lifestyle, which includes eating well, exercising, not smoking or vaping, and reducing stress as much as possible, Dr. Baldassarri says. "We can reduce our stress by getting enough sleep at night and taking some time each day to do meditation and focused breathing exercises," he says. "It's also important to spend time with friends and family who bring us positive energy."

How air quality impacts your lungs

Both indoor and outdoor pollutants can cause or worsen lung infections, cancers, and other conditions, including asthma.

In the home and workplace, chemicals, radon, asbestos, building and paint products, carbon monoxide, carpets (which can trap pollutants and allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, and mold), lead, and water damage are some examples of things that can make the air around us unhealthy.

Your exposure to outdoor air pollutants—from car exhaust to power plants to forest fires—can be harder to control, but it's important to know that such exposures can also trigger asthma episodes, make people sick, and negatively affect how children's lungs develop.

You can check your local air quality index, a system that tracks ozone (smog) and particle pollution (from ash, power plants and factories, vehicle exhaust, soil dust, and pollen) and other widespread pollutants, in order to know when to avoid spending too much time outside. The index is color-coded and ranges from "good" air quality in green to "very unhealthy" in purple.

Lots of media outlets, including websites, newspapers, TV, and radio stations, report the local air quality index, and you can also look up your location on airnow.gov. It's especially important to avoid exercising outdoors in unhealthy air because the effects of pollution on the body are worsened by the deep, quick breaths people take during physical exertion. It's also best to avoid exercising near high-traffic areas in general, and particularly when the air quality is poor.

People with asthma are especially sensitive to poor air quality, says Jason Kwah, MD, a Yale Medicine allergist and immunologist. "We know that asthma is more prevalent in urban areas and in people who live near major roadways," he says.

How infections injure your lungs

Infectious respiratory diseases, including flu, COVID-19, pneumonia, pertussis (whooping cough), RSV, and the common cold can harm the lungs. This is especially problematic because these conditions spread easily from person to person.

Most types of lung infections can be treated, but they can also be dangerous for infants, seniors, and people who have a lung disease or a weakened immune system. Fortunately, there are vaccinations (with the exception of RSV and the common cold) available for many common diseases that affect the lungs.

One silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic is how it has highlighted the importance of vaccination in general, says Geoffrey Chupp, MD, director of the Yale Center for Asthma and Airway Disease.

"Because of COVID, we have increased awareness about lung viruses—how they can affect the lungs, and the role vaccination plays in preventing these diseases," he says. "Vaccination has been at the forefront of many people's dinner table conversations, which is good. Public awareness is going to ultimately help people be better about taking care of their lungs."


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If you’re finding it difficult to get ahead in life, there are some proven methods to help lower your stress levels. Practicing Nature walks, going on a walk with a friend, or doing deep breathing exercises are great ways to calm your mind and get your body moving. 

Keeping Your Life Organized

If you feel overwhelmed by daily tasks, consider organizing your life. You’ll find that your stress levels will go down. Stress is caused by the inability to find the things you need, and the feeling of clutter will increase your blood pressure. Getting organized will make your life feel less hectic and allow you to focus on the things that matter most. Here are some tips to help you get started. Once you’ve organized your life, you’ll see a difference.

The simplest and easiest way to organize your life is to clear physical clutter. This can involve decluttering your living room or sorting through all your junk mail. The psychological benefits of organizing your life are immense. Visual clutter interferes with your brain’s ability to process information, which in turn can increase stress levels. It’s important to keep your space as clutter-free as possible. For example, you can make a list of all the things you’d like to keep organized and write them down. You can also keep a gratitude journal, which will help you remember what’s most important in life.

Making Diet Changes

Research has found that certain foods may affect your stress levels. Some of these foods are high in sugar or fat, while others may have positive effects on stress levels. Sugary foods can raise blood sugar levels, resulting in higher levels of cortisol, the primary stress hormone. High blood sugar levels can lead to heightened stress levels, as cortisol can shift when the body feels overwhelmed. This shift can lead to anxiety and even physical illnesses.

Eating a balanced diet can help you manage your stress level. Eating a well-balanced diet will reduce cortisol in the body, which is a hormone that is linked to chronic stress. Consuming food rich in magnesium, such as dark chocolate (at least 90 percent cacao), will help you feel calmer. Avoid refined sugar and simple carbohydrates, as these will raise your stress levels.

Aromatherapy Session

You can use essential oils in various ways, whether you choose to ingest them directly from the bottle or diffuse them. They can also be applied topically on the body and are found in air freshening sprays, bath products, and massage oils. These oils can be used either privately or passively to lower stress levels. The use of these oils is widely recognized for their uplifting and calming effect. They can reduce stress in both people and animals and are also useful for relaxation. Click here for more options.

Manage Your Time Well

If you’re suffering from high stress levels, it might be time to learn how to better manage your time. While time management doesn’t necessarily lower your stress levels, it can significantly improve your life. Regardless of your age or career status, time management skills will increase your ability to prioritize your tasks and achieve your goals. Not only will it help you avoid burnout, it will also help you maintain good mental health. And the added bonus? You can actually reduce your stress levels in the long run!

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Huawei Consumer Business Group (BG) featured a variety of HUAWEI’s cutting edge hardware products at the Milan – “Huawei Flagship Product Launch 2022” event including: HUAWEI WATCH GT 3 Pro, HUAWEI Mate Xs 2, HUAWEI P50, HUAWEI WATCH D, HUAWEI Band 7 and HUAWEI WATCH FIT 2 which aims to further simplify the daily lives of consumers. 


 


Along with its hardware products, HUAWEI also features its world-renowned Health App which has aided consumers all around the world lead a healthy lifestyle. 


 


Huawei Consumer Business Group always puts consumers at the centre of what it does. At the launch event, Richard Yu, CEO of the Consumer Business Group, highlighted Huawei’s continuous dedication to optimising user experience to fulfil its strategy and vision of an All-Scenario Seamless AI Life.


 


HUAWEI WATCH GT 3 Pro - Elegance on your wrist: An everlasting masterpiece

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The HUAWEI WATCH GT 3 Pro comes with a “moon phase collection” interface design, premium materials, an urtla-clear large screen and a range of watch faces to choose from. The latest Huawei’s latest flagship smartwatch makes it easy to support a healthy lifestyle, with HUAWEI TruSeen™️ 5.0+ data monitoring technology, allowing for accurate heart health measurement and blood oxygen monitoring . 


 


To ensure comfort and durability, the HUAWEI WATCH GT 3 Pro uses a sapphire glass lens and a ceramic back case. The skin-friendly materials allow for automatic detection of any change in temperature. 


 


HUAWEI WATCH GT 3 Pro Titanium Edition brings a fresh look and feel with a minimalist design. To ensure uniformity and delicacy of the lines, the watch adopts luxury-grade polishing, which is complicated and time-consuming, just to create the premium finish. It is equipped with a titanium metal case, sapphire glass lens and ceramic back case. HUAWEI WATCH GT 3 Pro Ceramic Edition adopts a ceramic body design. It has a soft natural gloss that highlights its elegant look. It also features an exclusive flower dial with dynamic effects; the five different dial effects show various shapes of the flower with time. The vivid blossoming of flowers not only symbolises the passage of time in a fascinating way but also adds a fun twist to its presentation.


 


HUAWEI WATCH GT 3 Pro Titanium Edition comes with a 14 days battery life and 7 days of battery life in intense usage scenarios, while the HUAWEI WATCH GT 3 Pro Ceramic Edition comes with 7 days of battery life in typical scenarios and 4 days of battery life in heavy usage scenarios. Thanks to wireless fast charging, you can charge up the watch for a full-day day of use in just 10 minutes.


 


Users of the HUAWEI WATCH GT 3 Pro have access to over 100 workout modes paired with an AI Running Coach and personal running planning feature based on an individual’s physical, running history and personal goals.


 


HUAWEI Mate Xs 2: Perfection Expanded

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Introducing the HUAWEI Mate Xs 2, HUAWEI’s brand-new flagship foldable smartphone. With a weight of only 255g and a thickness of only 5.4mm , the phone features the first 3D Fibreglass Design to achieve a fusion of aesthetic colours and textures. To achieve an urtla-flat surface which is minimalistic and natural, the phone uses the Falcon Wing Design. Through that, the movement of the hinge and screen is precisely synchronised via the fixed-length linkage control. For the phone’s screen, the use of HUAWEI’s self-developed innovative industry-first composite screen to absorb all shock and buffer makes the HUAWEI Mate Xs 2 urtla-reliable. 


 


To further enhance user-quality, the HUAWEI Mate Xs 2 is equipped with HUAWEI flagship products such as a 7.8-inch True-Chroma foldable display to deliver high resolution content, Silicon-Based Anode battery for higher density and larger capacity, 66W HUAWEI SuperCharge that allows a 90% charge within 30minutes, and an Anti-Reflective Nano Optical layer to help reduce glare. 


 


And to top that all off, the HUAWI Mate Xs 2 incorporates innovative interactions with multitasking capabilities and Floating Window Swipe Gestures to provide a seamless control while operating the multi-window. 


 


HUAWEI P50 – The Ultimate Camera Phone with aesthetic design

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Staggering True-Form Dual-Matrix Camera 


It compromises the powerful Main Camera Matrix and SuperZoom Matrix. The hardware is integrated with the HUAWEI XD Optics and HUAWEI XD Fusion Pro image engine, resulting in high-resolution images that are brighter and cleaner with more details. Huawei went the extra mile to glean a better understanding of colours. It created a comprehensive solution and tweaked over 2,000 colours in the full colour gamut. There is a new super colour filter system with True-Chroma Image Engine and Super HDR technology that provides comprehensive enhancements to details, colours and dynamic range. The HUAWEI P50 is outstanding in videography as it is in photography. The True-Form Dual-Matrix Camera supports 4K video recording on both the front and rear, providing vivid clear footage from every angle. 


 


Moreover, the periscope zoom lens supports a maximum zoom range of up to 80 times. The HUAWEI P50 also supports a new generation of AIS Pro True-Steady Shot technology and is complemented by all-new OIS hardware to offer vastly improved stabilisation experiences 


 


 


An iconic Dual-Matrix Camera Design


It is the perfect combination of form and function. The double ring setup is visually striking and instantly recognisable while incorporating the most advanced smartphone camera hardware. 


 


It incorporates a stunning display with a single punch hole camera. With the HDR display supporting the full P3 colour gamut, it can deliver an impressive visual experience for both video entertainment and gameplay alike. The HUAWEI P50 features a 6.5-inch display with a high refresh rate and 300 Hz touch sampling rate to provide fast response times. With an IP68 rating, you can be sure you will be protected from the elements when out and about.


 


Large battery with HUAWEI SuperCharge


Whether for gaming, recording, working or simply browsing the Internet, the HUAWEI P50 delivers excellent battery life with a large and long-lasting 4100mAh battery, which is supported by 66W HUAWEI SuperCharge.


 


Furthermore, the trusted innovative and secure AppGallery is available on the HUAWEI P50 where users can download a wide range of high-quality apps.


 


HUAWEI WATCH FIT 2 - Fashion on your wrist

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With fashionable characteristics, the HUAWEI WATCH FIT 2 connect style and functionality together. The HUAWEI WATCH FIT 2 is equipped with a 1,74-inch AMOLED HD HUAWEI FullView that displays 336PPI and 336 x 480 resolution to deliver an excellent visual experience and is accompanied by a screen-to-body ratio as high as 72.2% . The watch also features a new chessboard launcher design provides users with an interactive experience and the Tap to Transfer feature . 


 


HUAWEI WATCH FIT 2 now comes with a speaker, in addition to the microphone. Calls can be pushed from users’ smartphone to their smartwatch via Bluetooth , so they can chat on the go, wherever they are. Users can answer and hang up calls with ease by tapping on the smartwatch’s button and add frequently used contacts in the HUAWEI Heath App. They can also play music directly on the smartwatch with offline music playback and manage music playback through mobile apps. Gain access to HUAWEI Assistant∙TODAY on the smartwatch to quickly check the weather, flights, and other information. Despite the compact body, HUAWEI WATCH FIT 2 manages to fit in a large battery. Under typical usage scenarios, the smartwatch can be used for 10 days, and 7 days under heavy usage scenarios.


 


HUAWEI Band 7: Urtla-thin FullView smart Band with long battery life


 


Standing out amongst its competitors, the HUAWEI Band 7 provides professional functions in the field of scientific health and fitness. The band features the thinnest fitness tracker at less than 10mm in thickness, and weights 16g . Equipped with AMOLED display consisting of a screen-to-body ratio of 64.88% and 194 x 368 resolution bringing vivid content and visuals. Users can personalise their watch face with different colours to match their outfits. 


 


In a typical scenario, HUAWEI Band 7 offers a 14-day battery life which ensures users can wear it all day long with continuous use, monitor various body indicators, even when sleeping. Customise the watch face with 3 different modes, including AOD Watch Faces with default watch faces to how content is displayed on the watch face; Moon Phase Watch Face that displays sunrise and sunset timings along with 8 moon phases and tidal change in real time; as well as over 4,000 themes with matching colours to fit the user’s personal style.


With HUAWEI’s new running measurement system, Running Ability Index (RAI), users can evaluate their running ability objectively and find out their progress in real time. 


 


While working out, users can use the HUAWEI TruSeen™️4.0 to track their heart rate continuously, quickly, and accurately with two 3-in-1 LED and one photodiode for a higher light intake.


 


HUAWEI WATCH D: Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor


 


The HUAWEI WATCH D is the first wrist-type blood pressure monitoring device providing accurate blood pressure measurement anytime and anywhere for hypertensive patients. 


 


At 1/6 size and weight of a traditional blood pressure meters, the HUAWEI WATCH D also uses a mini pump to measure blood pressure accurately anytime and anywhere. Using an innovative mini pump, the pressure of the air pump can reach to 40kPa, ensuring blood pressure can be measured up to 230mmHg. This is equivalent to the range of traditional blood pressure meters.


HUAWEI WATCH D is not only a blood pressure sensor but is also a smartwatch that supports heart rate measurement. HUAWEI WATCH D is placed with an ECG high-performance sensor module that supports recording ECG data and immediately generating ECG reports . 


 


It has multiple workout modes and health monitoring functions. HUAWEI WATCH D also supports blood pressure measurement, heart rate monitoring, scientific sleep monitoring, automatic SpO2 monitoring, skin temperature detection, stress monitoring , etc., and is equipped with more than 70 workout modes . Combined with the smart mode, it offers 7 days of long battery life , which ensures users can wear and use it continuously without having to charge frequently.


 


HUAWEI Health App

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HUAWEI Health App covers all aspects of a healthy lifestyle, including Fitness, Nutrition and Wellness. Users can enjoy a wide range of features of the HUAWEI Health App to stay fit for both physical and mental health. With HUAWEI Health+, Huawei is introducing a new premium paid subscription service for users who are looking for more advanced health & fitness features. 


 


Creating a regiment to stay health is not easy but with the help of the HUAWEI Health App+’s Stay Fit Plan, users can create workouts and eating plans with automatic reminders for individuals base on their personal training days, exercise goals and favourite foods. Use the Nutritional Analysis to input nutrition data for each meal and calculation highly accurate calorie counts that can help users meet their goals. 


 


Lastly, to help with breathing, HUAWEI’s Breathing Training allows users to create and develop their own breathing exercise routine which encourages consistency and ensures that the practice fits into the user’s daily life. The HUAWEI Health+ will be firstly released in Germany and Italy.


 


HUAWEI continues to strive enable users to lead healthy lifestyles with new innovations. With new and unique hardware and functions allowing users to track and motivate themselves as they embark on the journey to finding their best self.


 

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