Stress is defined as the body’s response to a perceived threat or challenge. Everyone experiences stress and knows it can be difficult to manage. Stress can negatively impact your health. Chronic stress is especially harmful to your quality of life and overall well-being. Stress can lead to physical symptoms, such as gastrointestinal issues, as well as mental symptoms, such as depression and brain fog. 

This article discusses how stress can make your mind and body sick, as well as ways to cope.

Jay Yuno / Getty Images


Stress, Sickness, and Different Aspects of Health

When we are faced with a stressor (any source of stress, whether internal or external), our body is prompted to produce more stress hormones. 

For example, cortisol—a hormone made in the adrenal glands—plays a role in our body’s stress response. Meanwhile, adrenaline controls our fight-or-flight response, raising heart rate and increasing blood pressure. Long-term, exposure to excess cortisol and other stress hormones can affect our physical, mental, and cognitive health.

Physical Effects of Stress

When your body releases stress hormones, it starts working harder to avoid (or fight off) the perceived danger. Cortisol prompts your body to release more glucose, (blood sugar) while adrenaline makes your heart beat faster and increases your blood pressure. 

This process can lead to several physical symptoms of stress, including:

  • Muscle pain: When faced with stress, we instinctively go on guard, which makes our body tense up. This tension may lead to chronic muscle pain, often in the lower back, neck, and shoulders. 
  • Headache: Stress-related tension in the neck, head, jaw, and shoulders can trigger headaches, including migraines.
  • Shortness of breath: The airways in our lungs constrict when we’re stressed, which makes us breathe more rapidly and less deeply. Stress sometimes triggers asthma attacks in people with asthma or allergies.
  • Gastrointestinal issues: The brain-gut connection refers to the many communication pathways between the nervous system and the neurons in the gut. Stress-related changes in gut bacteria may cause a host of gastrointestinal problems, from diarrhea and constipation to nausea, vomiting, bloating, and stomach pain.
  • Insomnia: Extreme and/or chronic stress can cause dysfunction in the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, a system responsible for regulating our physical stress response. Overactivation of the HPA axis can cause various problems with sleep, such as poor sleep quality, insomnia, and frequent sleep disturbances.

Emotional Effects of Stress

Stress also impacts your emotional well-being and mental health. The emotional effects of stress may include:

  • Anxiety: Stress can trigger or worsen anxiety, which involves overwhelming feelings of dread, fear, and apprehension. Even if the source of your stress goes away, you may continue to experience anxiety.
  • Irritability and anger: Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system (SNS)—the system of muscles, nerves, and glands that enhances the fight-or-flight—and the HPA axis, both of which can also affect your experience of emotions like irritability, anger, and fear. Research suggests that there’s a strong association between stress and anger, especially among men. 
  • Relationship issues: Studies have found that stressed-out couples are more likely to fight regularly, to be dissatisfied with their relationships, and to be verbally or physically aggressive with each other. Chronic stress may also make you feel isolated and withdrawn, leading you to opt out of social events and family gatherings.

Cognitive Effects of Stress

When you’re stressed, your brain doesn’t have as many resources to devote to other processes, such as thinking, planning, and focusing. Here are some of the cognitive effects of stress:

  • Brain fog: Brain fog refers to various cognitive issues, including difficulty concentration, lowered attention span, slower thinking processes, and inability to multitask. Research indicates that brain fog may be caused by neuroinflammation (inflammation in the brain and/or spinal cord). Stress can trigger chronic low-grade inflammation throughout the brain and body, leading some researchers to link stress to brain fog symptoms. 
  • Impaired memory: Possibly due to the body’s inflammatory response and stress-induced changes in the brain, stress can also affect our short- and long-term memory, as well as our ability to form new memories and learn new information. 
  • Decreased problem-solving skills: Acute and chronic stress have been linked to decreased problem-solving and planning skills. This may be because we tend to eat a less nutritious diet and sleep less soundly when we’re stressed.

The Effects of Chronic Stress

If left untreated, chronic stress can lead to, or increase your risk for, serious health problems. including:

  • Heart disease: Over time, the release of stress hormones can raise your risk for several different cardiovascular issues, such as hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. 
  • Sex and fertility issues: Chronic stress can cause hormone imbalances, such as low testosterone, that can lead to various sexual and reproductive health concerns. These may include erectile dysfunction (ED), low libido, infertility, severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and irregular menstrual cycles. 
  • Autoimmune disorders: Due to stress hormone exposure and inflammation, chronic stress may increase your chance of developing an autoimmune disorder. Studies have found that stress is associated with the onset and severity of autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis (RA), multiple sclerosis (MS), Graves’ disease, and more. 
  • Depression: Stress prompts the release of cytokines—proteins that are involved in the body’s inflammatory response. Research suggests that pro-inflammatory cytokines may play a role in the development of depression and other mental health conditions. 
  • Diabetes: Research indicates that chronic stress can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. This may be because of the release of cortisol, which increases your blood sugar.
  • Alzheimer’s disease: Over time, chronic stress can alter your brain activity and cognitive function, increasing the chance of developing various neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease. 
  • Cancer: Chronic stress may promote the growth of malignant (cancerous) tumors. According to recent research, this is likely due to the over-activation of the HPA axis and the sympathetic nervous system.

Ideal Ways to Cope With Stress

There are many effective ways to cope with stress and prevent potential stress-related health problems, including:

  • Cutting back on work: Cutting back on unnecessary tasks can be a significant first step to lowering your stress level. Try to lighten your workload if possible, or ask for help with household chores and childcare. 
  • Relaxation and mindfulness techniques: Mindfulness practices and relaxation techniques—such as meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises—have been shown to help to reduce stress and anxiety levels. They can also help lower blood pressure and improve sleep, reducing the risk of stress-related health complications. 
  • Peer support groups: Social support can go a long way in relieving day-to-day stress. There are plenty of online and in-person peer groups where you can find support and enjoy positive activities together.
  • Exercising regularly: You might not feel like exercising when stressed. However, getting enough physical activity can help you clear your mind, boost your mood and reduce physical health risks. 
  • Improving sleep quality: Better sleep can help to improve your physical health, cognitive function, and emotional well-being. Create a sleep routine that helps you get the rest you need to stay healthy. You can start by going to sleep each night consistently and shutting off your phone, computer, and TV at least an hour before bedtime. 
  • Journaling: Keeping a journal can be a great stress relief. Try writing down several things you’re grateful for each day or reflecting on positive memories. 
  • Limiting alcohol and tobacco intake: When stressed, it can be tempting to self-medicate with alcohol and other drugs. Limiting your intake of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs – as well as unhealthy foods, caffeine, and sugary drinks – can help to reduce inflammation and improve sleep quality. 

If you’re having trouble dealing with stress, talk to your healthcare provider.

Psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), may help you develop better coping strategies and problem-solving skills. Your healthcare provider may also recommend biofeedback, a therapy that can help you learn to relax your muscles, lower your heart rate, and lower blood pressure. Anti-anxiety medications can relieve some of your symptoms.

Summary

Stress is your physical and/or psychological reaction to any potentially difficult event, condition, or environment. When you’re stressed, your body releases stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, that prompt your fight-or-flight response. Over time, exposure to these stress hormones can affect your physical, emotional, and cognitive well-being.

You can cope with stress by joining a peer support group, reducing your workload, practicing relaxation techniques, or cutting back on alcohol and caffeine. Psychotherapy and anti-anxiety medications may help if you have difficulty dealing with stress on your own.

A Word from Verywell

Both short-term and chronic stress can affect your physical, emotional, and social well-being. If you’re dealing with the health effects of extreme stress, talk to a healthcare provider about potential coping strategies and treatment options.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you tell anxiety apart from stress?

    Stress is your response to challenging internal or external forces, environments, events, or situations. Sometimes, you may experience temporary anxiety—overwhelming worries or fears—as a response to stress. If your anxiety continues or gets worse even when your source of stress goes away, you may have an anxiety disorder.

  • What helps reduce chronic stress symptoms?

    Building a strong support network, eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, journaling, taking time out to relax, and practicing mindfulness techniques are all possible stress relief strategies. Reducing caffeine, alcohol, and sugar may also help you manage stress and anxiety more effectively. If stress persists, you may want to talk to a loved one or healthcare provider about your symptoms.

  • What do doctors do about stress?

    To treat the effects of stress, doctors may recommend lifestyle changes and self-care strategies. Your healthcare provider might also refer you to a therapist for cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Anti-anxiety medications may help to treat certain stress-related symptoms.

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  15. Korkmaz S, Kazgan A, Çekiç S, Tartar AS, Balcı HN, Atmaca M. The anxiety levels, quality of sleep and life and problem-solving skills in healthcare workers employed in COVID-19 services. J Clin Neurosci. 2020;80:131-136. doi:10.1016/j.jocn.2020.07.073

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By Laura Dorwart

Laura Dorwart is a health journalist with particular interests in mental health, pregnancy-related conditions, and disability rights. She has published work in VICE, SELF, The New York Times, The Guardian, The Week, HuffPost, BuzzFeed Reader, Catapult, Pacific Standard, Health.com, Insider, Forbes.com, TalkPoverty, and many other outlets.

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Do you know that many factors equally contribute to giving you a restful sleep? Some of these are;

●    Tidiness in the room

●    Comfortability of the bed, mattress, and pillows

●    Level of mentality, stress levels

●    Lighting in the room

●    Breathing patterns

Since you can control all the external factors, your breathing and stress levels are the most serious components that help you fall asleep fast and sound. But you can manage your mentality with breathing so no matter how stressed you are, you can fall asleep. 

If someone comes and tells you that if you are stressed, then you will not be able to sleep, then that would be a complete lie or a myth. However, it is not quite easy, with some help, you can still do it. Therefore, if you are struggling with getting a restful sleep frequentlys or are suffering from insomnia, then learning how to control your breathing is the best option. 

Studies have revealed that many people, particularly the elderly, struggle to get enough sleep. There are various causes for your inability to fall asleep right away when you go to bed or your frequent awakenings even when you get some sleep. 

In this modern world, where we have to manage several works at the same time, such as; 

●    Do your office work

●    Take care of your home 

●    Take your kids to school and back and look after them

●    Run errands

●    Cook food and clean house

It is almost impossible to include sleep in your schedule. But with the device that we will introduce to you today, you will be surprised how you can turn things around.

It is called the Dodow, a small battery-operated circular device that helps you control your breathing and increase the oxygen flow to your system. With this device, you can teach yourself to reduce your breathing frequency and inhale deep and long breaths. And within a few minutes of doing this, you will fall asleep even before you know it. 

Stress, drinking coffee before night, or other underlying health issues are some leading causes. You may find the answer you've been looking for in the Dodow sleep and breathing assistance.

It is like meditation or yoga, but without having to listen to any type of music, story, or a voice explaining to you what to do. Many people find it hard to concentrate on a sound but easier to watch and do it themselves. DoDow employs this and will project a very soft, blue halo light onto your ceiling. You can select two sessions, either 8 minutes or 20, and within that time, you will control your breathing and finally fall asleep. 

You can let go of that pill bottle you've been using to fall asleep and do it in a less harmful way with DoDow. 

This Dodow review post will go into great detail about the Dodow sleep aid. The endorsements, advantages, qualities, and shortcomings, You may find all the info you need about the Dodow sleep aid in this article's frequently asked questions and user reviews. 

Dodow is a practical tool component of new sleep technology created to enhance sleep for all sleepers. This gadget regulates the nervous system and breaths per minute. When you are a person who is having trouble falling asleep, you will notice that your heart rate is high and that you are breathing more quickly than usual.

You cannot slow your breathing, which you should use if you have difficulties falling asleep. Thus that is what is taking place.

So now that the introduction is done, we can check out the lineup of today's review and get to the discussion right away. 

●    What Is Dodow?

●    How Does Dodow Work?

●    Benefits And Features Of Dodow

●    Where Can You Use Dodow?

●    What's Inside Dodow?

●    Where Can I Buy Dodow Sleep Aid?

●    Dodow Pricing

●    Final Verdict On  Dodow Reviews

●    Frequently Asked Questions

There is one more thing that you must know before advancing into the deeper details. We have provided you with several links to purchase the Dodow breathing assistant throughout this blog post. And all these links will redirect you to the different locations on the official manufacturer's website of Dodow. 

We highly recommend that you use these links to place your orders if you want to ensure you are buying a legitimate product and not a cheap counterfeit. Since the internet is full of scams and fraud, placing an order on this exclusive website will save you from losing money. 

So what do you say? Are you ready to finaly let go of that bottle of sleeping pills you have in the bedside table? Are you ready to put some real effort into it and learn to control your breathing? Do you want to fall asleep as soon as you get on the bed to wake up fresh and relaxed the following morning?

Then don't waste another minute! Click here, and we will redirect you to the official website of Dodow.And if you are lucky enough, you may still be able to catch the seasonal offers and discounts in time. With these offers and price cuts, you will save more than you spend when you buy more than one. So hurry up. Place your order now! Every minute you waste will delay how much longer you will have to suffer with the lack of sleep you are getting every day. 

What Is Dodow?

 

Dodow
Dodow

The Dodow is a little round device which you can put right next to your bed or somewhere that you have wasi access to, to regulate your breathing while you sleep. It is owned by French parent company Livlab, which also offers the HoomBand and HoomBook, two other sleep-related devices.

Dodow is a halo-light sleeping aid that specifically creates to promote more profound and more restful sleep. It functions by obstructing distracting thoughts and lulling you into a restful sleep. Dodow can use other routines and ways of living to produce better results. Things like behavioral treatment, meditation, and yoga.

Dodow is relatively safe and won't hurt you in any way.

The Dodow Sleep Aid uses a hypnotic light that, when concentrated upon, can slow your heart rate and thinking. Your mind's innate capacity for sleep restores.

The use of the product is simple. The Dodow sleeping assistance device does not require any additional accessories purchases or the installation of other software. 

You can set the device to switch off automatically after eight or twenty minutes of sleep. The Morphée is a different miniature meditation tool that we've evaluated.

That is a rechargeable, sound-focused product. The Dodow uses a blue light that shines onto the ceiling and is powered by three AAA batteries. You may time your breath with its expansion and contraction by watching it. According to the manufacturer, this breathing technique can aid insomnia and help you fall asleep quickly.

This item is inexpensive and accessible. The Dodow sleeping was quite reasonably priced and came with a gigantic 100-day return policy, thanks to the producers.

This product is easy to obtain; place an order on the company's official website from the comfort of your home. Orders are sent out as soon as they are placed, and you receive your Dodow Sleep assistance device in the anticipated amount of time.

Benefits And Features Of Dodow

This product works by using a potent hypnotic light. The Hypnotic Light Quiets Your Busy Mind. The light works by preventing you from concentrating on uncontrollably worrying or stressful thoughts that interfere with or prevent you from falling asleep. Because the light soothes your thoughts, you fall asleep immediately.

●    Reduces breathing rate

This substance also works by lowering breathing rate. Your breathing rate drops to around six beats per minute under the hypnotic light. Your pace of exhalation slows down. Your mind is already relaxed, and this controlled breathing will speed up the process of falling asleep.

●    Helps you regain your natural ability 

The Dodow Sleep is a device that, with regular usage, will help you get back to your normal sleep schedule.

Many users said that they could stop using this sleep aid after a period. It restored their innate capacity to sleep well and for a long time.

●    Long-lasting 

The Dodow sleep aid is long-lasting. It is built of sturdy parts and won't break down over time. It does not operate as intended and eventually stops working, unlike many expensive sleeping aids.

●    Easy & Convenient to Use 

This device doesn't require a stand or a wire connection. Additionally, you don't need to be an expert in anything. The Dodow can be used by anyone stress-free.

●    100-Day Money Back Guarantee 

If unsatisfied with your Dodow Sleep assistant device, you can return the device and receive a full refund. Please make sure to return it within 100 days of delivery. Unlike most other products on the market, the Dodow has a return guarantee that lasts longer than a month.

So what do you say? Are you ready to finaly let go of that bottle of sleeping pills you have in the bedside table? Are you ready to put some real effort into it and learn to control your breathing? Do you want to fall asleep as soon as you get on the bed to wake up fresh and relaxed the following morning?

Then don't waste another minute! Click here, and we will redirect you to the official website of Dodow. And if you are lucky enough, you may still be able to catch the seasonal offers and discounts in time. With these offers and price cuts, you will save more than you spend when you buy more than one. So hurry up. Place your order now! Every minute you waste will delay how much longer you will have to suffer with the lack of sleep you are getting every day. 

How Does Dodow Work?

You might want to understand the science behind this device before spending your money on it. Contrary to popular belief, setting up and utilizing the Dodow sleep and breathing aid is straightforward. It also takes up very little room. 

You will stare up at the blue light as you lay in bed. It progressively grows more prominent and then shrinks down to a tiny point. After being touched for three seconds, it emits blue light and projects it directly to the ceiling.

The device projects a blue light onto the ceiling to help you breathe more deeply while you sleep—the science of sleep of this device instead of magic. Your body's natural sleep cycle is aided by it. It retrains your brain so that you don't have to battle as hard to fall asleep and stay asleep for more extended periods.

Dodow sleep aid makes it easier for you to fall asleep more quickly and effectively and enables you to sleep longer. As a result, you awake feeling more energized and refreshed.

According to research, a person with persistent sleep-onset insomnia has been dealing with its symptoms for at least six months. Some persons with the illness are awake for days, while others are only awake for a few hours each night.

The Dodow device works effectively to settle your state of mind and assist in falling asleep as soon as you go to bed, regardless of the source of your sleeplessness at night. You should be aware that lack of sleep impacts the neurological system because you can't stop tossing and turning. On the official website, you may get more details and a discount.

Where Can You Use Dodow?

Aside from the typical causes of sleep-onset insomnia, it can be challenging to fall asleep in a new setting, such as a foreign nation or city where noise is expected. The Dodow metronome's most prominent feature is its portability, which enables you to utilize it to assist you in quickly falling asleep in a different location.

Its small size makes it ideal for anyone planning a trip to a new location. You must also be aware of how different places worldwide observe different time zones; you might find it difficult to adjust to a site with a significant time difference from your home nation. The Dodow sleep and breathing aid can temporarily remedy these circumstances.

So what do you say? Are you ready to finaly let go of the sleeping pills bottle on the bedside table? Are you ready to put some real effort into it and learn to control your breathing? Do you want to fall asleep as soon as you got on the bed to wake up fresh and relaxed the following morning? Click here, and we will redirect you to the official website of Dodow.

Every minute you waste will delay how much longer you will have to suffer with the lack of sleep you are getting every day. 

What's Inside Dodow?

Here is what to anticipate in a Dodox box if you decide to get the Dodow sleep aid:

●    Three AAA batteries, which, when used commonly, should last 100 nights.

●    a guide explaining how to utilize the Dodow sleep and breathing assistance

You'll need a flat-blade screwdriver to open the Dodow device's rear and insert the batteries. The technical specifications that a Dodow carries are listed below to help you better comprehend this product.

●    Measurements: 4.5" x 4.5" x 2"

●    7 ounces of weight (without batteries)

●    Battery-powered power source.

●    Type of battery: 3 AAA

●    Power usage: Several hundred nights

●    Light output: less than one lux

Where Can I Buy Dodow Sleep Aid?

Ensure to include the correct address and location when placing the order to prevent loss and delivery delays.

Only the manufacturer's official website is where customers may buy the Dodow sleeping aid. One can utilize various payment options, such as PayPal, credit cards, and debit cards, and their payment information is always secure. 

Nowadays, there are many online scams, so make sure you purchase from the manufacturers to ensure your purchase.

More quickly than you anticipated, your order was delivered to your location. The producers offer rapid shipping to the majority of nations worldwide. Ensure to include the correct address and location when placing the order to prevent loss and delivery delays. The Dodow Sleep Aid can be bought from the official website for the following amounts.

Dodow Pricing

●    Purchase 1 Dodow Sleep Aid Product for $59 plus shipping.

●    Purchase 1 Dodow, get 1 50% off at $88.50, plus free shipping to the USA

●    Two Dodows can be purchased for $118 with free shipping to the USA. (plus one free)

There is a substantial 100-day refund when purchasing this product through the manufacturer's website. It should indicate that the product's manufacturers have no doubts whatsoever. Additionally, you can expect your order to arrive in most locations worldwide in less time than you may anticipate. Where to buy DOdow?

So what do you say? Are you ready to finaly let go of that bottle of sleeping pills you have on the bedside table? Are you ready to put some real effort into it and learn to control your breathing? Do you want to fall asleep as soon as you got on the bed to wake up fresh and relaxed the following morning?

Then don't waste another minute! Click here, and we will redirect you to the official website of Dodow. And if you are lucky enough, you may still be able to catch the seasonal offers and discounts in time. With these offers and price cuts, you will save more than you spend when you buy more than one. So hurry up. Place your order now! Every minute you waste will delay how much longer you will have to suffer with the lack of sleep you are getting every day. 

=> Click Here To Get Your “Dodow” From The Official Website - Backed By Five-Star Reviews !

Final Verdict On  Dodow Reviews

Dodow is a metronome-light sleeping aid specifically created to promote more profound and restful sleep. It functions by obstructing distracting thoughts and lulling you into a restful sleep.

The Dodow Sleep Aid uses a hypnotic light that, when concentrated upon, can slow your heart rate and thinking. Your mind's innate capacity for sleep is restored. It is simple to operate. The Dodow sleeping assistance device does not require any additional accessories purchases or the installation of other software.

This item is inexpensive and accessible. Despite creating an efficient autonomous energy-saving ball, the producers kept the price very low.

This product is relatively simple to obtain; you can order it from the comfort of your home by visiting the business's website. Orders are sent out as soon as they are placed, and you receive your Dodow Sleep assistance device in the anticipated amount of time.

Dodow has many followers who adore everything about this device, including how quickly it works to put them to sleep and how it enables them to adjust their sleep patterns without stress, even though it is still relatively new on the market.

=> Click here to buy your Dodow from the official website. 

Frequently Asked Questions

●    What is the cost of a Dodow Sleep assistance device?

The Dodow Sleep Aid can be bought from the exclusive website of the manufacturer.

●    Is there any harm in using Dodow?

Absolutely no! This device uses the science of sleep rather than magic or a miracle to function. Your body's natural sleep cycle is aided by it. No long-term or short-term adverse effects have been reported, and it is 100% natural and highly safe.

●    How quickly will Dodow help me get to sleep?

Individual Dodow outcomes differ from person to person. Some people use the 20-minute sleep mode, while others only require the 8-minute sleep mode to fall asleep. The Dodow always turns itself off automatically. The Dodow works best when used frequently and consistently.

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REVIEW – Breath training is a hot trend right now to help manage stress, to reduce anxiety, and to improve your sleep. But how do you get started? Enter the Moonbird Breathing Coach! This system combines a handheld device with an integrated app to teach you how to manage your breathing to reach all of your goals. How well does it work? Inhale. Exhale. To the review!

What is it?

The Moonbird Breathing Coach is a device and integrated app designed to help you with breathing exercises.

What’s in the box?

You’ll get the Moonbird Breathing Coach, a charging cable, and a carrying pouch.

Design and features

The heart of the Moonbird Breathing Coach is the handheld breathing trainer. It’s an ergonomically designed pod designed to rest comfortably in your hand with a light grip. The soft-touch rubberized surface feels good in your hand. Side view is shown below.

That scooped out spot on the front face of the Moonbird Breathing Coach is where your thumb rests when the Moonbird is in action. You give it a shake to wake it up. An LED light in the center of the thumb pad indicates that it’s turned on.

When active, the body of the Moonbird expands and contracts to serve as a physical guide to your breathing. You simply inhale while it is expanding, and exhale while it is contracting. Here’s a shot of the Moonbird in its contracted state…

… and here is that same shot in the expanded state.

You could just use the device as a basic breathing coach (it will start on its own), but you’ll want the proprietary Moonbird app to guide your breathing practice. Setting up your app and pairing the device is a simple affair. Once paired, you’ll shake the device when the app is opened to connect.

You’ll place your thumb on that sensor where the LED sits, and you’re ready to get to work.

Using the app is simple and straightforward. Your opening screen provides some basic info about the battery life on the Moonbird, and defaults to starting up a breathing exercise.

To get started you can go to the “Guide” section, which provides a set of tutorials to help you understand the concepts behind the Moonbird and breathing practice. There are also libraries of guided programs that address topics such as managing stress, insomnia, and anxiety.

Regardless of what topic area or exercise you choose, you’ll find that the program uses an audio track paired with the appropriate breathing patterns for the subject matter to establish the rhythm of the exercise. You’ll keep your thumb on that pad to collect biofeedback on your session.

Here’s an example of one of the exercises, specifically box breathing. The opening screen tells you the breathing program for that exercise, and allows you to specify the duration of your program. You can also set any program as the default option when you fire up the device if there’s a go-to that you like.

The app then does a default check on your emotional and physical state at the time of the session. This can be turned off if you don’t want to use it.

Now you’ll get into your exercise. The app plays the voiceover audio from the breathing coach that gently prompts you to help your focus on the activity throughout the exercise. She’ll remind you to relax your shoulders, for example, or to release tension in your jaw. It’s actually quite comforting. Just follow the voice while you match your breathing to the device.

Your thumb sitting on that pad now delivers real time data to the app throughout the exercise. There are three data points it is collecting. The first is general heart rate. Below is an example of my heart rate being collected during the “Breathing Break” exercise. It is a simple measurement of beats per minute.

Next, is a measurement called Heart Rate Variability (HRV), which is a measurement of your general ability to adapt to (and recover from) stress. This number ranges from 0-20, with a higher score being better. The actual ranges for “good” scores depend on the individual (the Moonbird will help you set your baselines in the tutorials).

Finally, you have the Heart Coherence measurement, which measures the balance between your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. It’s basically looking for the synchronization between your breathing and your heart rate. The app tracks how much of your session maintains both systems in balance.

When you are done with an exercise, the app does a follow-up check on your emotional and physical state and saves all the session data.

You can then go back and look at your history of breathing exercises, and pull up old session reports as shown in the second screen below.

There are four preset breathing exercises:

  • A general breathing break (5 second inhale & 5 second exhale cycle);
  • A sleep relaxation program  (4 second inhale & 6 second exhale cycle);
  • Box breathing to calm stress (4 second inhale, 4 second hold, 4 second exhale, 4 second hold cycle); and
  • Anxiety reduction (3.5 second inhale, 4.5 second exhale).

You also have the option to create your own breathing exercise by choosing the inhale time, exhale time, and pause times in between.

Performance

The overall usability of the Moonbird Breathing Coach is outstanding and may be one of the best designs I’ve seen in the category of well-being/meditation-type devices. You don’t need to know a thing about breathing exercises going in, but the design will get you going within minutes.

The form factor is excellent. The contoured shape and soft-touch materials are comfortable to handle. The expansion and contraction action has just enough range that you can get a good feel for matching the rhythm to your breathing and you don’t need a death grip on the device. It feels good, which encourages re-use.

I also really like the “instant on” nature of the device. There are no dials, buttons, or switches to mess with. Just position it in either hand and give a quick shake to get going.

The app itself is equally simple and intuitive to use. I actually didn’t engage the tutorials for the first week and found myself able to get productive with the device very quickly. You can go deeper if you want with the tutorial programs (which are excellent), but you can skip all of that and just get into the breathing exercises for a quick-hit experience.

I don’t know how the device actually calculates the HRV and Coherence measurements, but we did some experiments to test them. My wife volunteered to run the Curb Anxiety program while sitting in front of the television for this test. You’ll see that she started at a higher score, then it dropped for a bit at the 50-second mark when she was distracted by the TV before coming back in line again.

Here’s the interesting bit. The Heart Coherence monitor shows a similar distraction in focus (the darker the blue, the more synchronized you are).

I’ve been able to repeat the same results with different programs. If I get out of focus I feel it… and it shows up in the results. Which is kind of cool.

Unfortunately, I wish that the app had a better way to show you if you are getting better at building and maintaining the Heart Rate Variability and Heart Coherence measurements. You can access each of your previous sessions as shown below and pull your own data, but it lacks the ability to show comparisons from session-to-session. I’d like to see this in future updates to the app.

As far as overall performance goes… I find myself using the Moonbird Breathing Coach more often than some of the previous meditation/wellness devices I’ve tested. The simple usability makes it easy to grab and go for quick sessions that don’t require an extended time commitment to employ. The stress management techniques are pretty effective once you get some practice, as is the sleep exercise when you commit to it.

One last note about battery life: it’s excellent. I used it for three weeks solid before my first recharge. Just make sure you don’t lose that power cord, as the proprietary plug can’t be swapped out with a standard off-the-shelf power cable.

What I like

  • Outstanding form factor
  • Excellent integrated usability between the device and the app
  • Wide variety of programs on the app

What I’d change

  • Would love to see more comparative analytics over time to measure progress.

Final thoughts

If you’re getting to breathing exercises, the Moonbird Breathing Coach looks like a great choice based on my experience. The comfortable design and dead-simple usability require almost no learning curve while encouraging experimentation and reuse. I’m really enjoying the simplicity of the app as well, which provides a good variety of programs without being overwhelming (or putting options behind a paywall). It’s a great overall package.

Price: $199.00
Where to buy: Moonbird.life and Amazon
Source: The sample of this product was provided by Moonbird.

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Stress

Stress

Have you been feeling stressed lately?

I’ve definitely heard more talk about stress this week.

In fact, polling company YouGov found stress at its highest levels since their surveys began during the week of 17 November. Hitting heights seen at the start of pandemic. But worryingly, they’re persisting and rising.

So what’s going on inside our bodies when we’re feeling stressed?

Let’s go back in time to our ancestors, the hunter-gatherers. They lived in a hostile environment, surrounded by predators. To deal with this environment our predecessors developed “fight or flight” hormones. Our brains would push these hormones into our blood stream to help us react to danger or take the opportunity to catch a meal.

Fast forward to 2022 and our world has changed and continues to change rapidly. But our bodies haven’t evolved at nearly the same pace. So many of us can easily find those same stress hormones triggered by everyday challenges. And there are a lot of those around at the moment. Price rises or mortgage rates rocketing, personal relationships strained and pressure at work. This can all get the stress hormones flowing.

The hormonal charge of stress is fine in short-bursts. In fact modest stress could actually be good for your health. But regularly firing stress hormones can damage your health. Potentially even threaten your life.

Chronic stress can make you irritable, anxious or depressed. It can cause insomnia and headaches.

During stress your breathing rate can increase. If you suffer from emphysema or asthma this can make your symptoms worse. Increasing stress hormones act to increase your blood pressure and put you more at risk of stroke and heart disease.

We’re living in challenging times.

So it’s time to think about how to protect yourself from developing chronic stress. And there are many ways you can take back control:

- get some exercise

- sleep well (7-8 hours a night)

- moderate your alcohol and caffeine intake

- try to eat healthy

- get together with mates or family

Finally, self-care. I personally love to garden. Research is now telling us that the great outdoors is excellent for your health. If you can get out into nature you’ll see the benefits.

We’re having a tough winter. Stress is rising. So in the run-up to Christmas do look after yourself.

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"Are you tired because you had trouble sleeping last night?" asks Justin Augustin, an exercise therapist and fitness coach who shares healthy lifestyle videos on his TikTok page @justin_augustin. The fitness expert explained that easing your mind and body into a night of restful sleep is all about relieving any stress and anxiety you might have.

In order to do this, taking control of your breath is crucial. "Breathwork is a great way to clear your mind and take back control," he explained to his 1.9M followers. "This helps not just for falling asleep, but for reducing anxiety and stress any time of the day."

Justin shared a breathing technique known as "the four-seven-eight technique" which is a "two-minute method to help you relax and fall asleep almost instantly".

He added: "It really works, I just did it and I really want to take a nap right now. Start doing this sitting up, but once you’ve mastered it, you can do this lying down."

READ MORE: Shoppers rush to buy energy saving halogen heater for £1.64

To begin, inhale from your nose for four seconds and then hold your breath for seven seconds. Then, exhale slowly from your mouth for eight seconds.

"You're going to repeat that four times," explained Justin. "If you can't hold your breath for that long that's no problem. You can make it a bit faster just try to keep the same ratio."

However, Justin warns against holding your breath for too long if you have been diagnosed with hypertension. The fitness guru explained: "If you have hypertension, holding your breath can raise blood pressure, so please do not hold in your breath."

Justin continued: "The reason why we do this at night is that it helps to reduce the anxiety and stress levels in your body. Your breathing pattern is such an important component. Once you're able to take control of it you're going to notice a huge difference."

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The video has received four thousand likes so far, with commenters sharing their experiences using the hack. One user said: "It's crazy how this works. I have [had] problems falling asleep [for] years. I was in dreamland before I could even think about it." [SIC]

Another user named Mickey said they had been struggling with insomnia due to menopause, and were going to put the breathing technique to the test.

A user named Shelly added that the hack was "very calming" when she tried it. However, other users noted they had some problems when they tested the four-seven-eight technique. Ray Vincent said: "I am kept awake by counting though."

How much sleep should I be getting each night?

The NHS currently recommends that adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. On average children need between nine and 13 hours of sleep, while toddlers and babies need 12 to 17 hours.

In order to improve your sleep schedule, the NHS recommends keeping regular sleep hours. This means making a habit of going to bed when you feel tired and waking up at roughly the same time the next day. This teaches your body to sleep better.

Create a resultful environment which isn't too bright or hot, and try to avoid caffeine and alcohol as they can prevent you from falling into a deep sleep. Physical exercise during the day can also help ease your mind, meaning you sleep better at night. However, if you are struggling to fall asleep, the NHS says you should not "force it."

The health service explained: "If you are lying awake unable to sleep, do not force it. Get up and do something relaxing for a bit, and return to bed when you feel sleepier."



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Do you often feel worn out or irritated at work? Or exhausted, and unwilling to cope with the situation at hand? 

A constant state of low energy like this may make it difficult to handle regular tasks or make it harder to respond to emotional situations. 

These changes may take an emotional, physical or mental toll on a person, and is referred to as stress. 

Now, everyone handles their stress differently. Either the stressful situation is taken care of, or the response to the situation is changed. The way of responding plays a crucial role in stress management.  

Understanding this subject is important as it affects your mental and physical well-being.

While it's inherently not a bad thing, stress signs that last for a prolonged period should be dealt with.

So, if the causes of stress can't be completely avoided, then how do we reduce and manage it? 

Read on to find out how you can keep it under control!

Nana Patekar saying,
© Base Industries Group

What Are The Signs Of Stress? 

Stressed man
© iStock

Stress is a situation that meddles with the hormones in your body. It triggers hormones called adrenaline and cortisol in the body, which are the reason for most of the stress symptoms. 

Some of the common stress signs include hypertension, high blood pressure, anxiety, headaches, increased breathing rate, insomnia, and so on. But, how does this happen?

The adrenaline and the cortisol work to increase your heartbeat, and breathing rate, influence the fear and mood part of the brain, alter immune responses, and so on. They constrict blood vessels to improve blood production to muscles, improve glucose distribution to the brain, and prepare your body for a flight or fight survival mode. 

Now, for a temporary period, this is fine, and may even be beneficial to the body. But, to have it often leads to consequences such as physical sickness and pain, digestive issues, chances of stroke, sleep issues, weight gain, low energy, dizziness, and a weaker immune system. It can also have an impact on your mood, motivation, and energy to complete day-to-day tasks. 

Hence, stress symptoms such as these indicate that you may be going through a stressful situation. This can be from work, family issues, and day-to-day habits, and can affect your mind and body if not managed. Prolonged stress effects on the body may lead to long-term health consequences. 

What Are The Different Types Of Stress?

Stressed couple
© Shutterstock

Learning to manage and reduce stress starts with identifying the type of stress. Depending on the situation and the duration of stress, there are mainly four types. Acute stress, episodic acute stress, chronic stress, and eustress. 

Acute stress is the short-term stress that we encounter in our day-to-day lives. Be it waiting for traffic, the nerves before an interview, or the stress associated with completing work tasks, all these generate small amounts of stress. 

Episodic acute stress, as the name suggests, is acute stress that occurs frequently or constantly. These may occur when the stress-causing situations are frequent, or if the situation at hand hasn't been dealt with yet. 

Chronic stress can be a result of traumatic experiences and lead to a form of stress that may seem never-ending. For instance, the stress of a loan or debt can seem inescapable. 

Eustress, on the other hand, is a positive form of stress that is associated with a thrill, or an adrenaline-filled experience. Skiing, water sports, and paragliding are some examples of sports that can generate eustress. It keeps a person energized through short bursts of energy and elevation of mood. 

What Are Some Stress Prevention Tips?

Happy man
© Shutterstock

To reduce the impact that stress may have on your life, you can work to prevent it from escalating. Before stress symptoms take a hold of your life, it's best to notice the signs and take steps to manage and reduce stress. 

Learn to look at the signs of extreme stress. It may lead to emotional and physical exhaustion. Daily activities may seem harder to complete, and you may even lack motivation. These are subtle signs that stress may be dominating your everyday routine. 

Beyond these, work on mindfulness and getting some exercise in. Did you know that about 62% of adults who exercise to manage stress report that it's very effective?  Being active can keep the mind and body healthy, thus helping you to fight stress before it becomes overpowering. 

Engage in activities that you enjoy, be it hobbies or creative events. Today's generation glorifies hustle culture, but this can lead to stress and burnout. Having a healthy work-life balance, taking time off to learn a skill, or engaging in a hobby can be beneficial to reduce stress. 

How To Treat Stress Symptoms 

Stress causes a physical and emotional toll on the individual who's suffering from it. While there's no distinct method to treat stress symptoms, there are some interventions that can reduce the harmful effects. Some ways to treat stress symptoms include,

1. Indulge In Calming Exercises

A man doing some light exercise while laying on a yoga mat
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Did you know that a simple exercise such as a walk for 30 minutes can improve the mood and reduce stress? This is due to the release of brain chemicals called endorphins. This is what happens with most calming exercises such as meditation, yoga, and light cardio. Trying exercises such as pranayama is also beneficial, as it helps relieve anxiety, and lowers blood pressure and heart rate.

2. Talk To Family Or Close Friends 

Two friends talking to each other
© Shutterstock

In this digital world, we are used to video calls and voice calls, but stepping out of this digital communication can benefit stress. Face-to-face communication with family or loved ones is a great stress buster. It helps vent out any issues that you may be facing and reduces anxiety. Their words of reassurance can bring calm, and a sense of peace. The pent-up stress can sometimes not allow a person to see a situation clearly, which is resolved by talking it through with a close friend or family member. 

3. Modify Your Diet & Reduce Alcohol & Caffeine Intake 

Man cooking a nutritious meal
© Shutterstock

Our diet has a huge say in how we respond to situations and how our body functions on a daily basis. Having a nourished, healthy diet provides the extra energy to cope with stressful events in life. Along with this, practising mindful eating can prevent episodes of stress eating. It improves digestion and avoids eating unhealthy food or excessively as a coping mechanism. 

4. Practice Self-Care & Have A Work-Life Balance 

 A man strumming a guitar
© Amazon

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One of the major causes of stress may be the work environment or the load of work that you may have. Learn to procrastinate less, have work boundaries, and take adequate time off for a work-life balance. Being a workaholic and getting influenced by the hustle culture may just lead to chronic stress later on. Instead, keep your phone on silent mode, take some time away from electronic devices, engage in hobbies like playing an instrument, and spend time travelling and being with your family. These relaxation methods can greatly reduce stress. 

5. Ask For Social Support Or Mental Health Counselling

Shah Rukh Khan says,
© Red Chillies Entertainment

There's zero shame in asking for help. If you feel that your stress is overwhelming, and is the cause behind your mood swings, anxiety, and other symptoms, it's best to refer to a mental health professional. Not all issues can be resolved with a single solution. Taking support and therapy can help deconstruct your worries and alleviate stress. 

6. Cut Away Things That Can Add To The Stress 

A man scrolling through social media
© Shutterstock

Things such as constantly scrolling through social media, and news, procrastinating, consuming too much alcohol, and indulging in smoking can add to the stress in life. Moving away from these can help handle the situation better and reduce stress. Even making slow progress, such as reducing caffeine consumption daily can add to the progress of reducing stress.

Conclusion: How To Practice Stress Management

Stress management isn't about managing symptoms as it arrives, but includes ways to prevent and reduce stress. With proper stress management tips, handling a stressful situation can be easier. 

Following a nutritious diet and regularly exercising are some of the top tips. Our diet and body management influence the mind and increase resilience to stress. Based on a healthcare professional's advice, taking vitamin and mineral supplements may also be beneficial. 

Taking healthier alternatives to alcohol, and caffeine may be beneficial. Speaking to family members, or seeking professional help is also an option. When done in the long term, these practices can greatly help manage stress and overall well-being.

Overall, there's no one solution that can alleviate stress, but rather a combination of solutions. Stress relief practices take time, and practising them every day helps manage stress in the long term. Making sure to get to the root of the problem, addressing it, cutting out things that can elevate stress, and following daily practices that help build a healthier life are tips that can keep stress at a manageable level. 

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It’s not easy being a human. We all experience stress and anxiety from time to time, and for some people, these feelings can become overwhelming. If you’re feeling anxious and constantly worried about the future, it might be time to get help. 

Unfortunately, there isn’t always an answer that immediately removes your anxiety or makes you feel better. However, you can do so many things right now in the short term to relieve your anxiety symptoms, such as:

Music

One great way to relieve anxiety is by putting on your favorite music and dancing around the house. This relieves stress, lowers blood pressure, and stimulates serotonin, a happy chemical in your brain that helps you feel less anxious. 

If you’re anxious about social situations or talking to people, listening to music can also help you to avoid the situation entirely. In particular, calming instrumental music or ambient noise can also be a great way to block negative thoughts and anxiety.

Running

Running is one of the best ways to relieve stress and relax at the same time. The act of running can help you to focus on the present while simultaneously de-stressing your body. It can be difficult to run when you also have a busy schedule, but it’s important to find ways to relieve stress and anxiety while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. 

Taking breaks throughout your day or using a timer to remind yourself to stop when you feel overwhelmed is a great way to relieve stress. Many people find that running on different days of the week works best for them and provides a stress-free sense of routine.

Breathe and Centering Techniques

When we’re anxious, we often hold our breath, which only worsens the feeling of anxiety. Breathing exercises have been used for hundreds of years to help with this. You can try simple techniques like exhaling as you say ‘relax’ or inhaling as you say ‘focus’. 

In addition to breathing techniques, you can use centering techniques to calm your mind. Centering techniques can be used to help you focus on the present moment rather than the past or future. Some CBD products, such as Delta 8 vapes, can help you center yourself more easily and enable your mind and body to wind down as you breathe.

Essential Oils and Natural Remedies

If you’re suffering from anxiety, essential oils and natural remedies can be a great way to relieve your symptoms. Some essential oils calm the mind and reduce stress and anxiety, so you can use these to help reduce your symptoms. Popular examples include lavender, grapefruit, and lemon essential oils. You can also try adding essential oils to bath water or using a diffuser to create a relaxing scent environment. 

If you don’t like their smell or they don’t seem to work well for you, you can also try herbal remedies to help reduce anxiety. Herbal remedies can help with insomnia, stress, anxiety, and even stomach issues like indigestion or ulcers. And you can find various herbal combinations online.

Ice Water

One of the best ways to relieve your anxiety is by drinking or washing your face with ice water. Ice water has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety in as little as 15 minutes. Cold water has an instant effect on the body and mind, reducing stress and anxiety levels. Try drinking iced water before bed to help you relax and fall asleep faster, or dip your face into a bowl of it to reset your mind in the morning.

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Research shows that certain supplements may be able to relieve period-related symptoms that can get between you and a good night's sleep. Low levels of calcium, especially during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, have been shown to exacerbate PMS symptoms, causing depression, hallucination, and restlessness, according to a 2019 review in Obstetrics & Gynecology Science. Additionally, women with adequate levels of vitamin D had a lower risk of PMS symptoms than other women. Vitamin D and calcium work synergistically to aid absorption; having low levels of one can increase the risk of deficiency of the other (via NIH). For women, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of calcium is 1,200 milligrams and 600 IU (international units) for vitamin D. 

Magnesium may also help in easing symptoms including depression, anxiety, and bloating, per a 2010 study in the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research. In a 2012 study in the Journal of Research in Medical Science, magnesium supplementation improved insomnia in a group of elderly people, and it can also be helpful in the treatment of many health conditions, including PMS, via a 2017 review in Scientifica. Magnesium deficiency is common, so it's worth getting your levels checked (via Cleveland Clinic). The RDA for women for magnesium is 310 to 320 milligrams (via NIH).

Other supplements that may benefit sleep include vitamins E, C, B12, B6, valerian, glycine, GABA, chamomile, and passionflower (via The Sleep Doctor and the Sleep Foundation). Always consult with your doctor before taking a new supplement. 

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On a tatami, a group of pregnant women sit in a circle and reproduce the silhouette of a butterfly with their legs, an exercise that will help them to acquire greater mobility and flexibility of the hips. This first exercise is followed by others such as the cat or mountain posture. Yoga sessions that, practiced during pregnancy, help to increase relaxation, reducing anxiety, stress or insomnia, and also reduce physical discomfort, such as lower back pain or muscle cramps.

Interested in delving into the benefits that this discipline has for pregnant women, a group of specialists from the School of Nursing and Midwifery of Trinity College of the University of Dublin have carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis. published in magazine BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth with the title The characteristics and effectiveness of yoga interventions during pregnancy, the study concludes that yoga has positive effects during pregnancy not only on anxiety, depression or perceived stress, but also on the duration of labor, pain treatment and duration of labor.

Practicing physical exercise, in general, during pregnancy is considered essential for maternal health, for a better evolution of the pregnancy and, consequently, for fetal well-being. Regarding the practice of yoga, Dr. Raúl Villasevil Villasevil, a specialist physician at the Obstetrics and Gynecology Unit of the San Carlos Clinical Hospital in Madrid, believes that “it is a safe practice during this period of a woman’s life and It seems to have very beneficial effects both from the physical and emotional point of view, so its practice during pregnancy is highly recommended. As the article points out, yoga improves the stress perceived by the pregnant woman, as well as the anxious-depressive symptoms, constituting a very positive activity in the psycho-emotional sphere of the pregnant woman”.

An opinion that coincides with that of María De la Calle, obstetrician head of the risk pregnancy section of the Madrid University Hospital of La Paz. To the benefits listed by the previous experts, she adds others such as the improvements that her practice brings in the face of decreased respiratory capacity, lumbar hyperlordosis —pathological deformation of the spine—, increased cardiac output, venous stasis — condition that consists of slow blood circulation in the veins—and fluid retention in the lower limbs that women usually suffer during pregnancy. “The stress of childbirth is an important time to practice the breathing and meditation that yoga brings. And, in the postpartum period, this practice contributes to both physical and emotional recovery and allows the woman to have a space to dedicate herself ”, she assures.

However, although it is normal for this discipline to be practiced throughout the pregnancy, it is advisable, according to Dr. Raúl Villasevil Villasevil, “that the patient adapt it to her specific physical condition, especially if she has never practiced it before, being advised against in humid or high-temperature environments, such as bikram yoga”. De la Calle also advises against practicing a more physical yoga, “for example, in those cases in which pregnant women are at risk of premature delivery or at risk of bleeding (such as threatened abortion, bruising, placenta previa) and have to stay Resting. In these cases, it is more advisable to incorporate a more meditative yoga, in which breathing is worked.

For her part, Dr. Anna Suy, president of the Perinatology section of the Spanish Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics, also emphasizes the need for pregnant women, when practicing it, to take into account some positions or postures, as well as the intensity and frequency of exercise. “Above all, that her practice is guided by professionals with experience in pregnancy. It must be taken into account that doing yoga, like any other exercise during this stage, must be adapted to each of the pregnant women, taking into account both their physical condition and their pregnancy, due to the risks associated with their own condition as a pregnant woman. , how he is or the situation of the baby ”, he specifies. Because, as Dr. Suy argues, “not all pregnancies are low risk, as there are high risk ones, either due to diseases of the mother or the baby. Therefore, each of the pregnant women should ask her obstetrician or gynecologist or the midwife if she can perform this exercise ”.

If the specialist gives his approval, Villasevil recommends practicing “one or two weekly sessions of approximately one hour, which must be adapted to the evolution of the pregnancy and how the pregnant woman herself is in each trimester.”

Four pregnant women practice yoga.
Four pregnant women practice yoga. Getty

To have a good pregnancy, as well as to lead a healthy life at any time of our lives, it is good to practice physical exercise and also incorporate techniques that promote well-being, “such as implementing a healthy diet, participating in groups for pregnant women, avoiding isolation during pregnancy. And yoga is still a technique that promotes relaxation, although in itself it is not considered a cardiovascular physical activity. So it would be one of the practices that they can do during pregnancy, although there would be other exercises that, in some cases, would be equally recommended”, explains Suy.

In reference to the data included in the study on the possibility that the practice of yoga during pregnancy reduces labor in two hours, Villasevil treats it with caution. “The article tells us that the reduction in the duration of labor was achieved by including studies with a high risk of being biased. And once those studies were removed, there would be no difference in the length of labor. To be able to affirm more forcefully that yoga shortens labor, studies with a larger number of patients and a better design that avoid bias would be necessary. Therefore, no such clear evidence is currently available in relation to this point.”

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Along with stress management, breathwork can help reduce symptoms associated with anxiety, depression, insomnia, and PTSD and can reduce the perception of chronic pain. Photo / Getty

Sinead Corcoran Dye fills her lungs with air and feels grounded.

My initial, bitchy and cynical first thought when I first came across breathwork was that the wellness industry has become a joke. Why would people pay to breathe when we can just do it for free? I thought this while huffing on my vape and waiting for my anxiety medication to kick in, while I panted like a chihuahua in labour.

You’re probably like me, minus the vaping-chihuahua part. You’ve been breathing since birth, right? But apparently there’s a difference between regular breathing to stay alive and actual breathwork.

A true breathwork practice is about the intentional manipulation of breath, similar to what you might do in a yoga or meditation class.

For centuries, spiritual practitioners have used controlled breathing or breathwork in prayer and meditation.

Breathwork techniques were used in several ancient cultures, but mainly originated in modern-day China, India, and Tibet – and according to Google Trends, searches for “breathwork” have increased six-fold over the past five years, and we’ve probably got a pandemic to thank for that.

Sarah Lamb, a breathwork coach and guide at Breathe Free, located at The School Of Modern Meditation in Auckland, says she’s had a huge influx of clients post-Covid, and that while everyone managed to get through lockdown in one piece, in the wake of it everyone needs mental health help more than ever.

And it’s not as woo-woo as it sounds – the science backs it up.

Research shows conscious breathing could be one of the fastest ways to combat the stress of everyday life. A 2017 study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology found that participants who completed 20 breathwork training sessions over eight weeks had significantly lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol compared with those who did not receive the training. Cortisol is responsible for our body’s stress response and high levels of it can cause chronic inflammation.

Along with stress management, studies have shown breathwork can help reduce symptoms associated with anxiety, depression, insomnia, and PTSD and can even reduce the perception of chronic pain.

It works by increasing your breath rate and opening the airways in the lungs more widely so the body can take in more oxygen, which alerts the parasympathetic nervous system. Once activated, the PNS slows down and relaxes the body.

Of course, I tried it out, and did an hour-long session with Sarah. While I thought she would be guiding me through long, slow, yoga-esque breathing, we actually did circular breathing which is way more hectic. It’s where you breathe in and out continuously without stopping to stimulate the sympathetic nervous system through mild hyperventilation – which at times was quite scary!

While I’m used to constantly panting thanks to my anxiety, this was way more intense – and your tongue dries out into sandpaper because you don’t swallow. But Sarah assured me it was normal to need to take breaks because my body wasn’t used to breathing properly.

Sarah says people usually do a couple of private sessions with her and then migrate into group classes, which are held online and in person each month.

“If people are having a particularly challenging time such as grief, anxiety/stress disorders, insomnia, depression or cancer recovery, I will continue to see them privately for as long as they need support. Sessions are usually two to three weeks apart minimum, so there is time to integrate what you experience. I have some clients I’ve been seeing monthly for over a year,” says Sarah.

All her clients are also given recordings of the sessions so they can practise at home, and next year she’s set to launch an app to provide breathwork on demand.

During my session I did feel a bit panicky from breathing so intensely for such a long period, but Sarah coached me through my freakouts and let me take little breaks when it all got too much. Post minor hyperventilation, I felt a bit shaken but also hugely invigorated and relaxed at the same time. Sarah says through regular breathwork I will reduce my stress and anxiety, soothe and restore my nervous system and have a deeper connection to myself and my intuition.

The practice also promises to increase feelings of inner peace and signal to my brain that my body is a safe space, which, as someone who suffers with a dissociation disorder, is exactly what I need to stay connected to myself.

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Traveling by boat or cruise is exciting, but your experience onboard can vary depending on the weather. If you have an upcoming sail planned, it’s worth knowing how to prevent seasickness before you depart in case you experience severe weather during your crossing.


Whether you’re traveling on a small boat or a large ship, here are some of the best ways to prevent seasickness while sailing. (Top tip: check out these ideas before you travel so you can download any necessary tools without getting stung by maritime roaming charges).


What Is Seasickness and What Is It Caused By?

Woman leaning over railings feeling sick

Before we dive into how to prevent seasickness, let’s look at what it is and why it happens. Understanding the condition can help you better prepare for and prevent it if the dreaded sensation hits.

Seasickness is a type of motion sickness. When there’s a lot of unusual movement occurring, your brain can’t process the conflicting information your eyes, ears, and body are sending. Your brain’s confused reaction to these muddled signals is what makes you feel seasick.

Symptoms of seasickness can include:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Rapid breathing and heart rate
  • Vomit

Although incredibly unpleasant, there are tools you can use to prevent seasickness. We’ve outlined five steps you can take to help avoid as well as manage feeling ill when at sea.

1. Breathe Slowly and Deeply

woman breathing deeply to prevent seasickness

According to PubMed, controlled breathing (slow diaphragmatic breathing) has been shown to decrease motion sickness. Therefore, one of the best ways to prevent seasickness is to breathe slowly and deeply.

Controlled breathing can be trickier than you think, however, especially if you’ve not tried it before. Many of us are in the habit of breathing quickly and shallowly, so it can take a bit of practice to slow your breath down.

To help improve your breathing, you can download a meditation app that offers breathwork guides. This way, you can be prepared if seasickness overcomes you while you’re traveling.

It’s worthwhile practicing rhythmic breathing before you depart so that if and when seasickness hits, you can call upon this method automatically. Start by breathing through your nose gently and exhaling through your mouth. Try to slow your breathing down and make each inhale and exhale last as long as possible (don’t hold your breath!); counting can help you control the timing.

2. Stay Hydrated

woman drinking water to prevent seasickness

There are plenty of hydration apps around that remind you to drink water, and you may need this reminder when you’re seasick. The thought of putting anything in your tummy while it's somersaulting can make you feel worse, but it’s important to stay hydrated if you become seasick.

The important thing to do when trying to stay hydrated is to sip your water. Downing a glass of water might hit your stomach wrong and come shooting back up as quickly as you swallowed it! (Remember, this is what we’re trying to avoid, not encourage). How you drink is almost more important than how much you drink when you’re poorly at sea.

To help prevent seasickness, make sure you drink plenty of water before you board your ship. Starting hydrated is better than trying to catch up later if you’re struggling to take in and keep down any fluids.

3. Lay Down and Sleep (if You Can)

woman sleeping to prevent seasickness

If you’re feeling dizzy and nauseous onboard, one of the best things you can do is lay down flat on your back. This can help align the sensory cues that your brain has muddled up and will hopefully ease any nausea and other symptoms.

Prior to departing, however, it’s worth getting some extra sleep in to prevent seasickness, as feeling tired and exhausted can make you more susceptible to unpleasant symptoms. If you struggle with getting a good night's sleep, it might be worth trying an app designed to help battle insomnia or even investing in a smart sleep mask to improve your rest time.

Booking a cabin is a good option to help prevent seasickness. If you’re going on a long voyage and you have the option to book a cabin, pick one that’s close to the center of the boat (and lower down, if possible). There’s less motion here which will reduce your chance of becoming seasick. Having a cabin also provides somewhere quiet and private where you can lie down if seasickness hits you.

Even better: try to sleep off the seasickness. Think of sleep as time travel to freedom!

4. Listen to Soothing Sounds to Help Relax

Phone playing ambient sounds to prevent seasickness

While you’re laying down to prevent seasickness (or any other comfortable position you manage to settle in), listening to soothing sounds will help you relax. Anxiety and panic can make seasickness worse, so an ambient sounds app might do just the trick.

You’ll find plenty of apps for listening to calming sounds on your device’s app store. The trick is to pick one that you know will relax you, so trying out a few different apps when you’re still on dry land is advisable. There is a wide variety of sounds available, from rain and thunderstorm sounds to white noise and ambient music, so take the time to pick a sound app that you enjoy—and that you know will help you relax.

5. Listen to an Audiobook to Distract Yourself

man listening to audiobook to prevent seasickness

If you’re struggling to prevent seasickness, the next best step you can take is to distract yourself from feeling ill, and what could be more enjoyably distracting than listening to a story?

Looking at your phone’s screen may make you feel worse, but if you are able to control your device with your voice, opening an audiobook app could be your best bet.

Listening to an audiobook is a fully immersive experience as you’re taken away to another world (i.e. a better one than the physical plane you’re currently suffering in!)

Audible is a popular audiobook app with plenty of stories to choose from, and you can often benefit from a free trial of the app if you’re not ready to purchase. Alternatively, there are other free and cheap audiobook apps you can try to find the perfect story to listen to.

If you're not an audiobook person, then you could listen to a podcast series instead. Podcasts are more accessible than audiobooks, and the majority of them are free. Just make sure you download any episodes or books you wish to listen to before you leave. If your ship doesn’t offer free Wifi, you don’t want to be stung with a whopping data bill for connecting to Maritime roaming charges.

How to Prevent Seasickness on Your Next Cruise

Feeling sick aboard your cruise can be miserable and unpleasant, but the steps above can help you prevent seasickness. Remember to take it easy, try to stay still and lay down if you can, and—if severe—reach out for help. There is always a team of trained first-aid staff aboard, so you can ask for help and support.

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Stress and its related symptoms have a negative impact on health. It can cause behavioral changes, aches and pains, headaches, and insomnia, among other issues. It’s imperative that you keep your stress levels in check. More smartwatch and fitness tracker makers, like Samsung, have baked stress monitoring features into their devices. But how do you use the Samsung Galaxy Watch to measure stress? Find out below.

QUICK ANSWER

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and Galaxy Watch 4 use a combination of heart rate and heart rate variability data to gauge a user's stress levels. You can initiate a manual reading by opening Samsung Health, tapping Stress, and selecting Measure.

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How does the Samsung Galaxy Watch measure stress?

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro D Buckle

Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Like Garmin, Samsung uses a combination of heart rate and heart rate variability (HRV) to determine stress levels. HRV is the measurement of the interval between beats. According to Harvard’s Health Blog, our autonomic nervous system (ANS) is responsible for adjusting our heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate. This part of the nervous system also governs our flight/fight response (high stress) and relaxed states (low stress).

So what does this actually mean?

Simply put, if your HRV is low — a slight variation between heartbeats — it’s a possible indicator that your ANS could be in a higher stress mode. If your HRV is high and the intervals between heartbeats are more varied, you’re likely in a more relaxed state.

Although it’s among the more common methods, not all smartwatches use HRV to measure stress. The Fitbit Sense and Fitbit Sense 2 use EDA, or electrodermal activity sensors, to gauge body responses. These sensors sample the skin’s electrical conductivity variation due to sweat.

How to take a stress reading on the Galaxy Watch 5 and 4

You can initiate manual stress readings on the Galaxy Watch 5 or Galaxy Watch 4 by following the steps below.

  • Open Samsung Health on your watch.
  • Scroll down to the Stress section and tap on it.
  • Tap Measure to initiate a reading.

The watch must remain snug on your wrist while it takes the reading. You’ll see what appears to be a graph measuring your heart’s rhythm on the screen. Once the reading is complete, the watch will show you how stressed you are on a line graph. Green indicates low stress, while red indicates high stress. The Galaxy Watch will also display your average with a dotted line on the graph.

You can also activate automatic stress readings on the Galaxy Watch 5 and Galaxy Watch 4. If you’re particularly worried about your stress levels or find the manual measurements too cumbersome, we recommend switching this feature on.

  • Open Samsung Health on your watch.
  • Scroll down to Settings and tap on it.
  • Under the Measurement section, tap Stress.
  • Toggle on Measure continuously.

FAQs

Based on our own experiences, the Galaxy Watch series’ stress measurements aren’t completely accurate. Still, it’s important to note that smartwatches are not medical devices. What is useful is when your smartwatch can monitor stress trends over time, bring potential issues and triggers to attention, and encourage behaviors that quell stress. The Galaxy Watch line helps you do all of these.

Stress can be destructive. According to the American Psychological Association, It can affect almost all facets of the body, from the muscles and our skeletons to our respiratory, nervous, and reproductive systems.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and 4 have a nifty breathing exercises feature that encourages you to take a few deep breaths after recording a stress measurement.

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We breathe 23,000 times a day, without realizing it. An intense work for our lungs that we have “rediscovered” with the Covid-19 pandemic, yet we never think about how to keep them efficient for long. As happens to the kidneys, the lungs are an “ugly duckling” organ: we ignore, for example, that due to oxidative stress they can age, even faster than the external organ par excellence, the skin. This was discussed at the Tempo della Salute, in a meeting with Maria Pia Foschino Barbarofull professor of respiratory diseases at the University of Foggia, Mike Maricformer world champion of freediving, specialist doctor and lecturer at the University of Pavia e Lisa Migliorinirunner, influencer and physiotherapist.

How much do the Italians know

“About 1 in 3 Italians are not satisfied with the health of their lungs. The percentage increases among smokers (54%) and among those who live in polluted areas (35%) “, explains Professor Barbaro, referring to the data that emerged from the survey on our lung health conducted as part of the educational campaign” Protect your lungs ”, promoted by Zambon Italia. “When subjects recognize that the health of their lungs is not optimal, they experience a series of disorders to a greater extent: a sense of fatigue (60%, plus 17 percentage points compared to the general population), shortness of breath (54%, +25 points), sleep disturbances (59%, +18 points), frequent or chronic cough (53%, +29 points), mucus overproduction (51%, +26 points), wheezing or rattling breaths (48%, + 29 points). The positive aspect is that 3 out of 4 would like to know more ».

How they age

The respiratory system reaches its full development around the age of 25. “After that, with the passage of time, the lungs gradually begin to lose their functionality, even in the absence of disease,” continues Barbaro. «Furthermore, as we age, the immune system also loses its ability to organize an effective cell defense against infections and the end result is the accumulation of free radicals. Exposure to risk factors such as cigarette smoke, environmental, domestic and occupational pollution can lead to the production of oxidizing substances, cell poisons that trigger oxidative stress and inflammatory processes, conditions that amplify each other and that are present in many chronic diseases of today”.

This helps the lungs

«The first step to slowing the decline of lung function is to stop smoking: with the first puff we inhale 19 billion free radicals. It is never too late to stop, at any age », continues Barbaro. “To increase, however, the ability of tissues to eliminate free radicals and promote a more effective response to bacterial and viral invasions, it is important to acquire good habits: movement, correct breathing and a varied and healthy diet rich in antioxidants, therefore with lots of fruit and vegetables. Glutathione, produced by the liver, is the main antioxidant of our cells and is the key to counteract oxidative stress and to increase immune defense capabilities. Its deficiency can lead to an increased risk of lung damage. This is why it is important to regenerate it and increase the endogenous reserves. On the subject of domestic pollution, however, we learn to ventilate the rooms and keep the filters of the air conditioner clean ».

Breath and sport

“Breathing is the great ally for managing stress, emotions and daily anxiety,” adds the athlete Migliorini. «The trick is to learn diaphragmatic breathing: the diaphragm is the main muscle behind good breath. Inserting targeted exercises of correct and conscious breathing, alongside rehabilitation treatments and medical examinations, helps to improve the symptoms of neck pain, for example. In addition, bad breathing penalizes athletic performance. When I run and I feel short of breath, I adopt a trick: I exhale with a longer time than I inhale, in this way I interrupt the rhythm and start again with a new cycle of breathing that will certainly be better ».

The best stress reliever

“Although it is so easy to breathe, many do it badly.” Word of the world champion of freediving (he held his breath for 6 minutes and 15 seconds) Maric who has made breathing a profession that has also become the plot of Broken Breath, the docufilm that tells his story, finalist at the Ocean Film Festival World Tour. «I also happened to lose my breath when in 2005 my best friend, Filippo, with whom I was supposed to leave the next day, went to sea and never left that sea. From that day on, I was afraid to leave the house, I only ate ice cream, I began to suffer from insomnia. How did I get over that difficult time? Working on the breath and the mind, tools that allow you to go beyond your limits even in everyday life. We should learn to “orientalize” because breathing helps fight back pain, disorders related to poor posture, digestive problems. Breathing restores balance, connects with emotions, allows you to live better, to fight stress. It is the main form of self-control, it is a wonderful regulator of our emotions ».



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First Published Nov 8, 2022, 11:08 AM IST

Stress can affect one’s sexual health, which may also lead to infertility. Here are some tips and lifestyle changes that can reduce your stress levels and promote better fertility.

Image: Getty Images

Stress is a significant problem that people neglect as they are unaware of the health challenges that stress brings, including heart disease, blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. It can also affect our mental health and lead to problems such as depression, anxiety and insomnia, making it difficult to cope with everyday life and lead to substance abuse.

ALSO READ: Kovalam to Udupi: top 6 surfing destinations

Image: Getty Images

Walking: Nothing is more peaceful than a walk outdoors to help reduce stress levels. Walking is an effective form of exercise for reducing stress, and walking can be enjoyed by people of all ages and fitness beginners. Walking can be done virtually anywhere, and it is a great way to get some sunlight and fresh air. 

Image: Getty Images

Prioritise sleep: There are many health benefits to getting a good night's sleep, one of which is reducing stress. When you're well-rested, your body is better able to handle physical and mental stressors. That's why it's essential to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. 

Image: Getty Images

Image: Getty Images

Meditation and controlled breathing: Slow, deep breathing helps to slow our heart rate and relaxes our muscles. Meditation also helps to reduce stress by promoting mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment and focusing on our thoughts and feelings without judgement. 

Image: Getty Images

Music and humming: The act of humming can help to release tension in the body, and music can help to relax the mind. Calming music can also help slow heart rate and breathing, further reducing stress levels. If you feel stressed, try listening to music and humming along. 

 

Image: Getty Images

Effective communication: Communication is one of the essential tools in our arsenal regarding reducing stress levels. When we communicate effectively, we can express our needs and wants clearly, which can help reduce the amount of stress we feel. In addition, communication can also help to build and maintain relationships. 



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Grounding techniques are great to use to help with anxiety problems, especially panic attacks. They often require deep breathing and keeping your eyes open, but there are other methods you can use as well.

The 54321 method is a resource tool to keep in the back of your mind for situations where you feel like your heart is beating out of your chest and you can't breathe.

The particular method helps bring you back to the present moment instead of flying off into the land of what-ifs where anxiety reigns.

RELATED: 4 Signs Your Panic Attacks Aren't Just Standard Anxiety — They're Symptoms Of Agoraphobia

What is the 54321 method?

The 54321 method, also known as the 5 senses grounding technique or 5 senses technique, is a grounding exercise that can help ease anxiety by bringing you into the present moment. It combines all 5 of your senses to aid you in mindfulness.

This exercise ends up isolating each sense to reconnect you back to your body when feelings of overwhelm become too much and inhibit you from concentrating.

The idea is that if your mind is distracted by focusing on each sense, it can no longer drown you in anxiety. The best part is that you can do this anywhere, at any time, in any position when you feel anxious.

It can help with stress management, PTSD flashbacks, insomnia, and panic disorders.

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Stress is a major problem that people are neglecting as they are unaware of the health challenges that stress brings, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. It can also lead to mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety and insomnia along with making it difficult to cope with everyday life and can lead to substance abuse too.

Talking about how stress is now one of the leading factors for problem in sexual health, Nilay Mehrotra, Founder and CEO of Kindly, shared in an interview with HT Lifestyle, “Stress can impair sperm health and sexual function, which can result in infertility. Males with higher levels of stress were more likely to have lower sperm counts, less motility and erectile dysfunction. Stress is a major problem for women's sexual health too. When a woman is stressed, her body produces the hormone cortisol, which can interfere with sexual arousal and sex. Stress can also lead to other sexual problems, such as vaginal dryness and loss of libido. Stress can also make it difficult to reach orgasm.”

According to him, seven activities that can help people reduce their stress are:

1. Walking - There is nothing like a peaceful walk outdoors to help reduce stress levels. Walking has been shown to be an effective form of exercise for reducing stress, and it is an activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and fitness levels. Walking can be done virtually anywhere, and it is a great way to get some fresh air and sunshine. Taking a walk with a friend or family member can also be a great way to catch up and spend some quality time together.

2. Yoga practice - Yoga can help to reduce stress by promoting relaxation and mindfulness. It can also help to increase feelings of well-being and self-acceptance. Yoga may be a good option for you if you're looking for a way to reduce stress.

3. Effective communication - Communication is one of the most important tools in our arsenal when it comes to reducing stress levels. When we communicate effectively, we are able to express our needs and wants clearly, which in turn can help to reduce the amount of stress we feel. In addition, communication can also help to build and maintain relationships, which can provide us with a support network to help us cope with stress.

4. Meditation and controlled breathing - Slow, deep breathing helps to slow our heart rate and relaxes our muscles. Meditation also helps to reduce stress by promoting mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment and focusing on our thoughts and feelings without judgement. By being more mindful, we can learn to control our stress response and reduce the negative impact stress has on our lives.

5. Change in diet - While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, there are certain foods and nutrients that can help promote relaxation and reduce stress such as dark chocolate, chamomile tea, and lavender. It is also important to limit or avoid foods that are known to increase stress levels such as caffeine, alcohol, and processed foods. By making simple changes to your diet, you can help reduce stress and promote relaxation.

6. Music and humming - The act of humming can help to release tension in the body, and the music can help to relax the mind. Listening to calming music can also help to slow down the heart rate and breathing, which can further reduce stress levels. If you find yourself feeling stressed, try listening to some music and humming along. It may just help you to feel more relaxed and calm.

7. Prioritise sleep - There are a lot of benefits to getting a good night's sleep, and one of them is reducing stress. When you're well-rested, your body is better able to handle stressors, both physical and mental. That's why it's important to get at least eight hours of sleep every night. Not only will you feel more rested and alert, but your body will be better able to handle whatever comes your way. So make sure to get plenty of restful sleep to help reduce stress and improve your overall health and well-being.

Couples who undergo IVF and ART also undergoes a lot of stress. This can further lead to increased difficulty in IVF procedures. According to Dr Kshitiz Murdia, Co-Founder and CEO at Indira IVF, a couple struggling with infertility and planning to have a child is often under a lot of pressure coupled with frustration. He said, “The ardent desire of an offspring often leads to personal strain in intimate relationships. Feelings of depression, anxiety and isolation are common across patients struggling with infertility. All these emotional strains certainly leads to enormous stress and mental pain that might only hamper fertility even further. Furthermore, those who choose fertility treatments such as medication, assisted reproductive technology (ART), in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and its auxiliary therapies may face financial hardship and uncertainty about the procedure's effectiveness which add to the stress.”

He advised, “If someone is struggling with infertility or undergoing fertility therapy, it is important for them not to neglect his/her mental health. One way to solve the problem is to approach the issues with a scientific mind-set and along with seeing a fertility expert, must also adopt some healthy lifestyle habits that could help in reducing the stress level. Going out for a walk, doing small exercises daily and eating healthy diet will definitely allow one to feel physically healthy and mentally active. Listening to good thoughts/ music is a right way of destressing and remain positive. Making such healthy lifestyle changes and choices can play key role in curbing the stress and ensure mental well -being of anyone facing infertility or undergoing its treatment.”

Therefore, we should not neglect issues related to stress in order to live a good lifestyle. Consulting medical experts is advised to ensure proper guidance and treatment to live a stress free life.

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All about sleep paralysis: Causes, symptoms and prevention

Nov 07, 2022, 12:48 pm
2 min read

All about sleep paralysis: Causes, symptoms and prevention
Sleep paralysis is a temporary inability to move or speak while falling asleep

Sleep paralysis is a condition where you feel conscious and active while sleeping but are unable to move or speak.

It takes place when a person is between the stages of wakefulness and sleep.

This state usually lasts for one or two minutes.

During sleep paralysis, a person may experience audio and visual hallucinations which can also lead to stress.

What exactly is sleep paralysis?

While sleeping, your body relaxes and the voluntary muscles are still which prevents you from injuring yourself while acting out in dreams.

During sleep paralysis, you may wake up when your body is still relaxing.

It occurs between waking and sleep and can lead to other sleep disorders like narcolepsy.

This condition starts during adolescence and gets worse during the 20s and 30s.

The most common symptom of sleep paralysis is the inability to move or speak.

Other than this, you may also feel pressure on the chest, experience difficulty in breathing, have hallucinations and sensations, sweat, and feel as if something is pushing you down.

It can also lead to muscle aches, headaches, paranoia, feelings of fear, and feeling as if you are going to die.

Causes behind sleep paralysis

During sleep paralysis, the body's transition to or from rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is not in sync with the brain. Your body alternates between REM and non-REM.

Narcolepsy, irregular sleeping patterns, and a family history of sleep paralysis can trigger the condition.

Insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, migraine, anxiety disorders, and hypertension can also cause sleep paralysis.

How to prevent this condition

Improve your sleep hygiene and manage your stress to tackle the condition.

Avoid blue light exposure before sleep, and try to sleep for at least six-eight hours daily.

Maintain a dark and temperate bedroom, reduce light exposure in the evening but get good daylight exposure during the day.

Exercise regularly, practice yoga, and try sleeping on your side instead of sleeping on your back.



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Biohacking is having a moment. While once this 'health optimisation' movement was largely dominated by tech bros in Silicon Valley who were obsessed with leveraging their biology to enhance their performance at work or in the gym, now more women are getting on board, adapting the concept of  'biohacking' to take into account our hormone fluctuations. 

In the US, Higherdose founders Lauren Berlingeri and Katie Kaps, who create high-tech wellbeing tools such as the infrared sauna blanket and PEMF Pulsed Electro Magnetic Therapy mats (a quick lie down on one of these is said to be the equivalent of an hour's meditation!) launched a wellness series Biohack-hers earlier this year in a bid to find the best biohacking technologies for women. They trialled everything from ketamine IV drips for trauma therapy to stem cell skin rejuvenation treatments. Meanhwhile, in the UK, self-professed biohacker Davinia Taylor, 44, has amassed one million Instagram followers eager to lap up her biohacking tips — which include taking a cold shower before bed every night. Her book/memoir detailing how she beat her cravings and got 'lean' without willpower This is Not a Diet has become a best-seller. Olympian Jessica Ennis Jennis fitness app is based around 'cycle mapping,' or planning your workouts around your menstrual cycle, a technique she used to win heptathlon gold.

What is biohacking?

“Biohacking is a trendy way of saying ‘optimisation,’" says Rhian Stephenson, nutritionist, naturopath and founder of Artah supplements. "It's about personalising your routine – using nutrition, supplements, exercise, and other wellness habits – in order to optimise energy, health and wellbeing.”

"Biohackers tend to be several steps ahead of modern medicine, instead of trying to fix the body when it has gone wrong, the idea is to prevent and even go one step further to optimise it,” adds Dr Nichola Conlon, a molecular biologist and founder of Nuchido Time+ NAD Supplements.  "While we cannot stop time, studies show that we do have more control over how we age than once thought, and multiple lifestyle practices have now been identified which can help keep you, younger for longer." 

The practice is massive in America, where healthcare is not free and there is more of a focus on longevity and staying well, giving rise to a huge biohacking podcast community. Early adopters include billionaire and former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, whose wellness habits include eating only one meal a day and using a standing desk under infrared light. Then there's Dave Asprey, the founder of Bulletproof Coffee — aka ‘butter’ coffee who, among other things, sleeps on a magnetic pad in a bid live to 180. Both spend millions on their biohacking habits. Asprey’s podcast The Human Upgrade, is now one of the most listened to in the States. Biohacking continues to gain traction in the UK, too, with the annual Health Optimisation Summit in London getting bigger each year.

It's gone on to spawn some of the edgiest and weirdest wellness trends, from spiking your morning lattes with medicinal mushrooms to indulging in an infrared sauna (or building your own for the lucky few), hitting up a freezing cryo chamber, having IV drips, and of course, the OG biohack: time-restricted eating. Many of these seem almost normal now. 

While some biohacks, such as the £300 Oura ring beloved by Harry and Meghan, which measures everything from sleep to stress and activity, or the £4,000 at-home Cold Plunge bath no billionaire biohacker’s bathroom is complete without, require a tech giant salary to indulge in, many draw on centuries-old holistic practices as simple as yoga or breathwork. “Biohacking incorporates a wide range of means or ‘biohacks’ – some might seem logical, and others quite extreme – in order to optimise wellness, both physical and mental,” offers registered nutritionist Charlotte Faure Green. “They tend to sit outside of conventional medicine, and are considered ‘alternative’, even though they may have been practised safely and widely in ancient cultures for years.” 

It's still an unregulated space, however, with many self-experimenters and whacky claims, which is why it’s important to follow trusted experts, such as those below. But at its heart, biohacking is about staying sharp, strong and balanced and living longer in good health.  

What are the benefits of biohacking for women?

While many biohacking practices could benefit everyone, regardless of gender or age, Dr Conlon says, “women have the added complexity that their biology can change quite dramatically on a monthly basis due to their hormones." This is because women have an ‘infradian rhythm,' a 28-day cycle that regulates their menstrual cycle, also referred to as the body's 'second clock' (after the 24-hour circadian rhythm). "This has been found to powerfully impact how a woman’s body and brain will function at different points in their cycle and there is now good evidence that women will benefit if they adopt diet, exercise and work patterns that support their infradian rhythm, as opposed to a ‘same-thing-everyday’ lifestyle that seems to work well for male physiology. This is why many more women suffer from hormone-related imbalances than men.”

In practice, this could involve doing gentler workouts during certain phases of your cycle, or if you're a fan of intermittent fasting, also limiting this to certain phases in your cycle when your body is naturally under less stress. Stephenson elaborates: “As male biology works on a 24-hour clock, their energy and metabolism are more stable and less dynamic than that of females. As such, they can benefit from doing the same thing every day, but because our biochemical landscape is constantly changing, something that would suit us in the early follicular phase could stress us in the luteal phase [during ovulation]. Likewise, a woman in her reproductive years trying to get pregnant will have different needs and energy than a post-menopausal woman, so learning how to optimise your biology at every stage and age is key to building resilience and vitality.”

How is biohacking beneficial in menopause?

Rebekah Brown, the founder of MPowder, which specialises in supplements for perimenopausal and menopausal women, adds that biohacking for women in menopause can be crucial in helping you to navigate biological changes. “A curious mind is perhaps the most valuable practice we can adopt in menopause. Medical practitioners and complementary therapists would agree that every journey is different and that 'layering up' with a range of practices that nourish the body and mind is key. I see the non-negotiables for a healthy transition as sound, regular advice from your GP, good nutrition and daily movement. Biohacking, once those firm foundations are set, help us truly harness our hormones to make 'part two' a stepping up, not a fading away."

Below, we spoke to five women about how they incorporate biohacking into their daily routines at different stages in their lives. 

‘Vagal toning, mouth taping and Himalayan pink salt in water’ 

Charlotte Faure Green, 36, is a registered nutritionist and mental health advocate

Give vagal toning a go to improve sleep and reduce stress

“The vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve connecting the brain to the rest of your body. It passes through the neck down to the abdomen, including your heart, lungs, gut, liver and pancreas. It regulates functions of the autonomic nervous system, the part of the nervous system that operates without having to think about it. When we are chronically anxious and stressed over time, we lose our vagal tone, and it starts to respond inappropriately to what we deem as a threat. It affects our sleep and digestive function. I researched vagal toning when a small glass of wine started to interrupt my sleep and came across the Sensate device. I use this pretty much every night to improve my vagal tone – I can now have a glass of wine and not worry about not being able to sleep (terrible nutritionist!), but it supports my stress response and improves the quality of my deep sleep.

"Vagal toning activities that are free include gargling, cold water swimming, cold showers, singing and meditation.”

Add Himalayan pink salt to water for extra hydration

“I add a tiny pinch of Himalayan pink salt to each glass of water I drink, particularly when I’m working out. This helps to hydrate cells by balancing electrolytes. It is impactful for health and prevents excessive urination. Overhydration (too much water) can cause the cells to be underhydrated by flushing out the toxins that get the water where they need to be, by replenishing them you reduce that issue.”

Try mouth taping while you sleep

“I have become increasingly aware of the research behind the oral microbiome and how it feeds into all facets of wellness. What happens in the mouth doesn’t stay in the mouth! Our oral microbiome is a driver for systemic diseases, such as dementia and neurodegeneration, heart disease, arthritis and other auto-immune diseases, cancer risk, gut health, and even Type 2 diabetes. At night I often pop a small piece of micropore tape vertically across my lips to encourage nostril breathing over mouth breathing – mouth breathing reduces saliva production which can lead to pathogenic bacteria formation increasing the risk of gum disease and inflammation.

“Biohackers believe that reducing mouth breathing at night also improves REM sleep and thus better focus and concentration the following day – while the scientific jury is out on this, anecdotally I do feel a difference when I do it. Truthfully, I do this for a few days consecutively and then fall out of the habit. I should do it more, but it’s not always convenient as I like to sip water in the night if I wake, and my husband thinks I’m bonkers.”

Hit up an infrared sauna

“I have an autoimmune thyroid disorder called Hashimoto’s disease. Although I am now eight years in and manage it very well with lifestyle, nutrition and medication, having a far infrared sauna once or twice a week has impacted my energy and stress levels positively. The thyroid is responsible for metabolism and raising core body temperature and a sauna session can temporarily do this job for us, giving our thyroid a much-needed break. Allowing the body to be under hormesis (a mild stress) in this case brought on by the increasing of core body temperature, heart rate and sweating, incites a positive response that boosts the body’s ability to respond and adapt to stress (both emotional and cellular). Physical and psychological stress are implicated in the development and progression of autoimmune diseases (and in fact many diseases) and so improving the body's ability to adapt to stress may improve the progression — it’s also just incredibly relaxing. 

"When lockdown hit and we couldn’t get to the gym to use the sauna we invested in a little pop-up FIR sauna, £339, for our home.”

'Daily meditation, tapping and ashwagandha for anxiety'

Rebekah Brown, 49, is the founder of supplement brand MPowder, which formulates products specifically for women in perimenopause and menopause

Image: Instagram @mpowderstore

Meditate daily

“Did you know that our bodies naturally suppress the production of our sex hormones when we are stressed? In menopause, when progesterone, oestrogen and testosterone are already fluctuating and depleting, the presence of cortisol makes it harder for our bodies to be in balance. And makes it harder for our stomachs to digest food too. A daily meditation practice can build in terms of impact. Make it as habitual as cleaning your teeth. And over time you'll feel real value.”

Tap to release tension

“As I've become more comfortable with being uncomfortable (menopause does that to you), I've also become better at stepping outside my comfort zone. The Emotional Freedom Tapping technique is a practice that I would have dismissed two years ago, but there is a growing body of research pointing to its efficacy in releasing tension, with near-immediate impact. Scientists believe that the practice relaxes our central nervous system and reduces cortisol, which in turn allows us to feel greater optimism.”

Add ashwagandha to your supplement drawer

“For me, my biggest biohack has been the inclusion of the ancient adaptogen ashwagandha. I've struggled with anxiety throughout my menopause journey and this clever herb has been shown to help with mood, libido, sleep and more. It's important to remember that not all supplements are created equal — look for Ashwagandha KSM66 — it's the best researched and, although more costly, you can be sure of the source and therefore the active ingredients. You can find it, at therapeutic dosage levels, in MPowder Meno-Boost too.”

Apple cider vinegar before meals and cycle sync fasting and fitness

Mother-of-two Rhian Stephenson, 40, is a nutritionist, naturopath and founder of Artah supplements

Image: Instagram @rhianstephenson

Regulate your blood sugar

“Blood sugar regulation is one hack that I actively use because of how transformational it is for energy. Apple cider vinegar is a biohack that has had a lot of criticism for being a detox fad without the science, but while it's definitely not a miracle cure for detoxification, it does have benefits when it comes to glucose control.

"Studies have shown that taking vinegar before a meal can reduce postprandial glycemia, which means the rise in blood sugar after eating, by 20 to 30 per cent. This means the spike in blood sugar and subsequent insulin release can be smaller, which is better for energy, mood and immunity. I always look for raw unfiltered organic brands, like Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar with The Mother, £3.50. I take two tablespoons in water before that are heavier in carbohydrates or sugars, and also use it a lot in salad dressings."

Move after a sugary or carb-heavy meal

“I always move after a carb-heavy or sugary meal. If we have an increase in blood sugar but are sedentary, the body has no use for it and will store it. Muscles are metabolically active and use up blood glucose for fuel, so moving after an indulgence can help diminish the swings in blood sugar. This can be anything. You can do a brisk walk or some quick bodyweight movements that involve the legs and glutes, so squats, jumps, lunges etc.”

Cycle sync your intermittent fasting

“Periodic fasting is one of the most common biohacking practices. I regularly use intermittent fasting to stay energised, and there are two ways I personalise it to add a 'biohacking' angle. Firstly, I only fast in the follicular phase of my cycle [which starts on the first day of your period and ends in ovulation] because it's more effective and more comfortable. In the luteal phase [during ovulation], we need more nutrients, more calories, and more nourishment in general. We're hungrier, our mood is slightly depressed we're working hard to build the endometrium, so fasting is biologically counterintuitive. Secondly, I use electrolytes when I fast.  In addition to losing electrolytes while we sleep and through exercise, we lose electrolytes if we fast or follow a low-carb diet. When I fast, I have 500ml water with Artah’s Cellular Hydration, £32, first thing, and it helps improve mood, energy, metabolism and appetite control.”

Try pranayama breathing

“Breathwork is an amazing tool that is huge in the biohacking world. Breathwork can help stimulate vagus nerve activity, and so helps to reduce the stress hormone cortisol, inflammation, blood pressure, and anxiety because it relaxes the nervous system, it's also been shown to help with insomnia. There are lots of free tools online you can use, including the 4-7-8 breath pattern, a pranayama technique which is a big element of yoga and focuses on controlling your breath by inhaling, exhaling and holding your breath, and Wim Hoff breathing techniques.”

‘Get the basics right first and boost your NAD+,’’

Dr Nichola Conlon, 35, is a molecular biologist specialising in the study of cellular ageing and founder of Nuchido TIME+ NAD Supplement

Images: Instagram @drnicholaconlon

First get the basics right with regular exercise, a balanced diet and enough sleep

“We have all heard time and time again that exercise, diet and sleep are all important for our health, but research now shows that they are probably some of the best tools we can use – particularly when it comes to ageing well. This is because recent research has shown that these lifestyle practices reverse your biological age – which is the age at which your cells are ageing inside – meaning they can literally turn back the clock.  So while they may sound like old advice, they are the cheapest and most effective ways to optimise your health.”

Boost your NAD+

"Science shows that a natural molecule found in every cell in your body called NAD+ is critical to supporting cellular health. It’s vital for energy production and switching on cellular maintenance and repair pathways, but, unfortunately, it declines with age, contributing to the signs of ageing we see and feel, such as a reduction in physical and mental energy and slower recovery.

"The good news is that there are several scientifically proven ways to boost your NAD+ levels. One increasingly popular way is to use an NAD+-boosting supplement, a fairly new addition to the supplement market, but one which has the credibility of strong scientific research supporting it. Benefits often associated with boosting your NAD+ include improved energy and endurance, better sleep, reduced brain fog and improved mental sharpness. At a cellular level, higher NAD+ means improved DNA repair, so cells can quickly respond to damage; improved mitochondrial function leading to more efficient metabolism and the activation of multiple longevity pathways, that are associated with healthy metabolic function and ageing."

‘No caffeine after 10am, magnesium baths and 8 hours and 15 minutes sleep (to be exact!)'

Tara Swart, 49, author, neuroscientist and psychiatrist

Deep breathing first thing to oxygenate the brain

“My day looks a bit like this: wake up and do deep breathing to oxygenate the brain, breathe into any areas of muscle tension, and shift stuck energy. The brain is small but it is a very energy-hungry organ — the two resources for the brain are glucose and oxygen so a healthy balanced diet and deep breathing are important to provide it with what it requires to function. Stress and device usage can cause shallow breathing or breath holding, something I call 'tech' or 'screen apnea', so the idea is to intentionally counteract this. Doing it first thing is partly to ensure that it gets done before we become busy and distracted but it also sets the tone for the day. Plus, if you regularly do deep breathing upon waking, you are more likely to notice how you are breathing during the rest of the day. I like box breathing and the physiological sigh (my Reel on this has had 2.2 million views). Proper breathing also assists the brain cleansing that occurs overnight via the glymphatic system."

Biohack your diet with plants, probiotics and supplements

"After 10 minutes I'll drink a glass of water to hydrate and have a cup of tea with Neutrient Butterfat Keto MCT Creamer, £39.98 [for an energy boost]. Supplement-wise I take a probiotic Symprove (from £39.99/month) and Seed when I travel (because it's in tablet form). Probiotics promote the gut-brain bidirectional relationship by improving the quality and diversity of the gut microbiome. I also take a smart supplement called Heights (from £40/month), which provides the essential vitamins and minerals for the brain that people may not be getting enough of through their diet, and adaptogenic herbs and medicinal mushrooms, which help to improve resilience to stress — stress is the biggest factor that reduces brain productivity.

“I only eat between 12 noon and 8pm and eat an organic plant-based diet with small amounts free-range, grass-fed dairy products and small amounts of wild fish to avoid the steroids, antibiotics and hormones (both injected sex steroid hormones and cortisol from stress) in factory/farmed livestock (I don’t eat meat but the same would apply if I did). I also make sure I have probiotic foods like Biotuful Kefir, £2.75, River Cottage Organic Kombucha, £1.75, or Yumchi Kimchi products at least three days a week for gut health.”

Magnesium baths, no caffeine after 10am and aim for exactly 8 hours and 15 minutes sleep

“Exercise-wise, I’ll do some foam rolling or Sivananda yoga to improve muscle and joint flexibility and I walk in nature with ankle weights for an hour most days and swim once or twice a week. I dry body brush to promote lymphatic circulation and bathe in Better You Magnesium Flakes, £10.95, three to five times a week to reduce stress and replenish magnesium levels (this helps with mood, sleep, musculoskeletal junctions and nerves). I don't have caffeine after 10am because if I do, I find it disrupts my sleep, and always aim to sleep for 8 hours and 15 minutes (more can be depressogenic [can cause depression]) and less is not long enough for the brain cleansing system to clear out toxins overnight."

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IT’S no longer just a problem we face on an occasional basis. 

Stress has been called the health epidemic of the 21st century by the World Health Organisation (WHO), with research by the Mental Health Foundation finding that 74 per cent of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year, that they’ve felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.

One in 14 adults feel stressed everyday - these are the physical signs to watch out for

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One in 14 adults feel stressed everyday - these are the physical signs to watch out forCredit: Getty

In fact, around one in 14 UK adults feel stressed every single day. 

What’s even more concerning is that 16 per cent of adults have admitted to self-harming as a result of stress.

With November 2 marking Stress Awareness Day, it’s time to recognise the symptoms of stress and make efforts to reduce them, before they become even more of a problem. 

While short term stress can be good, triggering a release of adrenaline in the body and kicking us into fight or flight mode to help us deal with certain situations, it’s the chronic, long term stress that leads to problems. 

Dr Sarah Brewer, Healthspan’s Medical Director, explains that short term responses to stress help you mobilise energy and prepare for a sudden burst of intense exercise - your flight or fight response. 

She says: “If the energy is not consumed however, it builds up and if prolonged, will drain your energy reserves.”

She explains that while short-term physical symptoms of stress are common when the flight or fight reaction is initiated - such as a racing heart and sweaty palms - they become more persistent and severe if you experience long-term negative stress.

Ignoring these long term symptoms can lead to bigger problems over time; stress has been linked to heart disease, diabetes and cancer, to name just a few.

The list of physical symptoms associated with stress is a long one and includes dry mouth, muscle tension, a stiff jaw, difficulty swallowing, jelly legs, heart palpitations, dizziness, ringing in the ears, pins and needles, headaches and chest pain. None should be ignored.

Here, Dr Brewer tackles six physical symptoms of stress and how to deal with them, fast… 

1. Cramps 

Stomach in a lot of pain? It might not necessarily be something you ate. 

“Stress leads to muscle tension which reduces blood and oxygen circulation within the muscle and a build-up of waste products such as lactic acid which can lead to cramping,” says Dr Brewer.

Be sure you’re not dehydrated by sipping on water regularly. Dr Brewer also recommends ensuring you have plenty of calcium and magnesium in your diet, as these are needed for muscle relaxation.

“Increase dietary intakes of dairy products, dark green leaves, seafood, nuts and seeds and drink sufficient fluids. 

“Supplements containing calcium, magnesium and vitamin E are often recommended to reduce cramps too,” she adds. 

To improve poor circulation, Dr Brewer says that taking garlic tablets, omega-3 fish oil supplements or ginkgo biloba extracts can help. 

“Ubiquinol (coenzyme Q10) increases oxygen uptake in muscle cells and is often effective where circulation is poor. 

“If you get regular or prolonged cramps, always seek medical advice.”

2. Shaking hands 

“Adrenaline puts neuromuscular junctions on red alert ready to react quickly, leading to trembling and quivering,” explains Dr Brewer. 

She recommends gentle exercise such as walking or yoga, as well as breathing exercises to help overcome this.

3. Panic attacks  

“These are thought to be triggered by overbreathing, also known as hyperventilation syndrome,” says Dr Brewer. 

“During times of extreme stress, your breathing pattern changes as part of the fight or flight response, so you take quick, irregular, shallow breaths that help to draw in more oxygen more quickly. 

“This in turn means you blow off more carbon dioxide - a waste acid gas produced by your metabolism.

“If you continue hyperventilating, you will soon exhale so much carbon dioxide that your blood loses acidity and becomes increasingly alkaline. 

“This affects the transmission of nerve signals and causes physical symptoms of dizziness, faintness and pins and needles,” she adds.

These symptoms can heighten your sense of panic so you tend to breathe even faster, blowing off even more carbon dioxide, which can then trigger a panic attack. 

Dr Brewer says the classic advice to breathe in and out of a paper bag is designed to ensure you re-inhale some of your lost carbon dioxide to replace acidity and relieve your symptoms. 

“CBD drops can also help reduce stress and anxiety,” she adds. 

4. Insomnia

Although stress can leave you fatigued and exhausted, it can also keep you awake at night. Dr Brewer says insomnia is associated with the whirling thoughts that accompany stress and anxiety.

There are some supplements that can help though. 

Magnesium, needed for the synthesis of melatonin, your natural sleep-inducing hormone, has been proven to help with insomnia.

Valerian is a traditional herbal remedy also used to treat insomnia linked with anxiety. 

“It has a calming action to reduce anxiety and restlessness, to help you fall asleep and achieve a deeper level of sleep more quickly,” adds Dr Brewer. Try Healthspan Valerian SleepAid (£15.45 for 60 tablets).

You could also try 5-HTP, a unique amino acid that acts as a building block to make the feel-good hormone serotonin and sleep hormone melatonin.

“Taking 5-HTP helps you fall asleep more quickly and extends the length of time spent in REM (rapid eye movement, or dreaming) sleep, so you awake feeling more refreshed,” explains Dr Brewer. 

5. Digestive issues

Ongoing stress can lead to problems in the gut such as bloating, gas, diarrhoea or even vomiting.

“This is due to blood being shunted away from the gut towards the muscles for the flight or fight response.

“The gut also naturally empties during extreme stress via vomiting and/or diarrhoea, which makes the body lighter for running. 

“Once stress is over or ‘reset’ by exercise, the body returns to rest and digest mode,” says Dr Brewer.

Plus, she adds that stress also has a profound effect on your gut microbiome which, in turn, “affects the production of serotonin within the bowel wall which regulates bowel contractions”. 

Serotonin is also involved in regulating mood within the brain so naturally, imbalances in gut bacteria can lead to a wide range of physical and psychological symptoms during times of stress, but it is often overlooked as a cause of ill health. 

Dr Brewer recommends taking a probiotic to help with any gut imbalances. 

6. Sexual difficulties

Libido lacking? “Stress is one of the most widespread causes of loss of libido, along with overworking, tiredness and lack of sleep,” says Dr Brewer.

“Excess stress is associated with a fall in testosterone and oestrogen levels, and an increase in secretion of prolactin – a  hormone produced by the pituitary gland in the brain. 

“Prolactin has a powerful negative effect on libido, and literally switches off the sex drive, as well as reducing fertility. 

“Low sex drive is in itself a powerful cause of stress in relationships, so a vicious circle sets up.”

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Improve a low sex drive by exercising, eating healthily and getting sufficient sleep.

For males, Dr Brewer adds that if anxiety and stress are resulting in erectile dysfunction, see your doctor or speak to a pharmacist about taking medication to help overcome this.

Ease stress, simply

Dr Brewer’s easy ways to dampen down long term stress

Keep a stress diary

A stress diary will help identify your main causes of stress so you can formulate sensible plans to overcome them.

Meditate

“So you can find an inner spot of calm when all around you is in a state of tension or chaos,” says Dr Brewer.

Eat right  

“Stress can compromise nutrient intake by influencing appetite, food choice and depleting the body of micronutrients,” says Dr Brewer.  

Try to focus on eating regularly and choosing nutrient-rich foods to help the body deal with the negative impact of stress. 

If you have to, rid the house of foods which could make stress worse such as high sugar, high fat foods.

“Find time to sit down and eat slowly too. This will help avoid indigestion and heartburn.”

Take a multivitamin and mineral supplement 

This will help to replenish micronutrients used up in the stress response and to safeguard against deficiencies. 

“You may need extra B group vitamins if you are feeling tired all the time,” says Dr Brewer.

Dance

Exercise increases levels of the chemical norepinephrine, which helps to balance the brain’s response to stress and helps to balance stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. 

“All exercise will help but increasingly research is focusing on exercise which involves problem-solving, concentration and coordination like learning new dance moves,” adds Dr Brewer.

Pay it back 

Helping others is a great way to reduce stress levels. Consider volunteering at a local charity branch, or, as Dr Brewer suggests, offer to spend free time walking dogs at a local animal shelter.



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Anxiety and stress both originate from the same source. Stress is a normal everyday response to life. We wake up, we have some stress that gets us out of bed, and it seems to be motivational. We experience a lot of stressors in our day-to-day (getting up in the morning, completing chores and work, sleeping on time, fights at home, and others).

While we try to be as optimized as possible, with time we are also activating our stress response system. What this does physiologically is it keeps us tense physically, but it also releases a lot of stress hormones like cortisol. Over time, too much of that in your system leads to chronic stress. Anxiety comes in when the stressor goes away and the stress still remains.

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Stress vs Anxiety: What’s the Difference

Most people talk about stress, anxiety and worry interchangeably as if they are the same thing. For example: "My test really stressed me out. I was so worried about it." or "I am so anxious about this upcoming performance that is making my stomach hurt." The lack of differentiation between these leads to difficulties in knowing how to resolve their effects.

Stress is the physiological response to fear - so it is about what's going on inside our bodies when we are reacting to something that's perceived as threatening or dangerous. It is a fight, flight, and freeze response. It is rooted in the reptilian brain. It's instinctual and unconscious. Stress serves the perfect function in helping us escape real threats, for example, the sweating that comes along with stress helps us stay cool or the adrenaline helps us perform in situations where we have to run away or fight off a physical threat.

However, if stress becomes chronic and remains unresolved, it can have serious consequences in our body. High blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, and chronic illness are all linked to stress.

Anxiety is at the intersection of thinking and biological response. It is rooted in the limbic system and it has to do with this feeling of dread or like something bad is going to happen. Anxiety helps people be watchful for danger, but if it dominates our lives it can make it hard for us to feel joy and to move forward in the direction of our values. If we want to learn to manage our anxiety, we need to learn to tailor our interventions to different aspects of stress.


How Do I Manage Stress and Anxiety?

To manage our worries, we need to target those thoughts with cognitive interventions - changing how we think and changing what we're constantly imagining and visualizing in our minds. If we want to change the stress response, we need to take a bottom-up approach by incorporating our body's reactions and responses into interventions that change those reactions and responses in a healthy way. Here are some ways to manage stress and anxiety:

1) Awareness

Insight and awareness are initial steps to recovery. (Image via Pexels/ Andreas Piacquadio)
Insight and awareness are initial steps to recovery. (Image via Pexels/ Andreas Piacquadio)

The first step to feeling better is enhancing your awareness. Start paying attention to what it feels like when you are experiencing anxiety. Is it rooted in your mind? Do you have thoughts or are you imagining some future catastrophe? Or is it rooted in your body? Do you have any physiological reactions like, an upset stomach or sweaty hands?

As you start to pay more attention to these reactions and gain more awareness around them, you will develop greater abilities to learn how to respond to these instinctual reactions in a more helpful way. Try journaling to understand these experiences.


2) Remain Connected

According to studies, whether it is stress or anxiety, it is important to maintain social connections. When life gets stressful, having a strong support network of family, friends, neighbors, and loved ones on your side can help you keep your responsibilities in check.

Start by helping with neighborhood organizations or taking up new interests if you don't yet feel like you belong to a community. The first step in fixing a problem or choosing a course of action is to be honest and open about it. Never be embarrassed to seek guidance from friends, mentors, or colleagues. They might even be able to assist you in resolving your issue.


3) Engage in Relaxation

A meditative break can be immensely helpful for dealing with anxiety. (Image via Pexels/ Andrea Piacquadio)
A meditative break can be immensely helpful for dealing with anxiety. (Image via Pexels/ Andrea Piacquadio)

It may be challenging to unwind if you frequently experience anxiety. You can teach your body and mind to relax by using deep breathing exercises, soothing music, guided visualization exercises, and relaxing activities like painting. Anxiety frequently centers on the potential future. You can learn to stay present in the present moment by practicing mindfulness practices like meditation.


Takeaway

Both anxiety and stress can result in symptoms like a racing heart, trouble breathing, headaches, insomnia, muscle tightness, irritability, restlessness, and difficulty focusing.

Identifying and avoiding triggers, abstaining from drugs and alcohol, practicing mindfulness, fostering relationships with others, and taking care of oneself are all examples of coping mechanisms. Anxiety disorders and other related mental health illnesses may benefit from talk therapy and medication.


Janvi Kapur is a counselor with a Master's degree in applied psychology with a specialization in clinical psychology.


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