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The power of breath

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Conscious breathing

Lung Power

 Did you know that our lungs are enormous? If you laid them out flat they would cover an entire tennis court.
The significance of this vital organ may suggest the importance of mastering the technique of breathing, if we are to ensure optimal health. Breathing is one of the few bodily functions that we can do both unconsciously and consciously, and for thousands of years, ancient cultures have understood the control of the breath - to increase focus, awareness of self and slow the mind. Modern western science has also woken up to investigating the benefits of breathing consciously as a way to manage stress, boost mood and energy levels and even manage weight. Our breath is an indicator of our mood and our mood is an indicator of our breath. This means that if we change how we breathe we can change our mood. It also means that when our mood changes so does our breath.  

Conscious Breathing

There are several ways to consciously breathe, such as the Kapalabhati (breath of fire) and pranayama yogic breathing. They all share one thing in common, they induce rest in the body, by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system.

The Alpha State

When we ground ourselves through the breath, we move into a lower vibrational state, close to the alpha state. In this highly focused but calm state, we turn on our creative brain, become more aware of our surroundings and can observe life from a different perspective. Doctors Brown and Gerbarg’s Sudarshan Kriya Yogic Breathing Study in the Treatment of Stress, Anxiety, and Depression found that yogic breathing balances the autonomic nervous system, which influences stress-related disorders.

Breathe to Release Stress and Anxiety

Becoming more aware helps us to differentiate between experiences that induce fear or stress and the physiological changes that arise from them. By noticing our perception and physical reaction to them, we are able to enhance and safeguard our health in a more conscious and responsible manner.  

Better Mind, Body and Spirit.

We are each born with billions of brain cells, and when we deprive them of oxygen, our performance will suffer. For example when we hyperventilate, we expel too much CO2, meaning less oxygen can be absorbed by the body, which leads us into a cycle of breathing even faster. By practicing balanced breathing we allow oxygen to circulate evenly, to saturate the blood - feeding every cell in the body, muscles, brain, organs, and skin, while allowing the metabolism to burn fat and work more efficiently.

Seasonal Power-foods you need to know about

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    Have you noticed how Gardening has gained a big resurgence? Known for it’s anti-stress benefits and meditational qualities, growing your own power-foods have become the latest re-discovered natural therapy. Cleverly coined Green Therapy we are witnessing Healing parks, therapeutic gardens and community patches springing up everywhere, as fast as they can grow. From Ivanka Trump (yes!) to Oprah, the world is moving back towards homegrown. source There’s no doubt that eating locally grown fruit and vegetables – garden-to-table style is much healthier from a nutritious point of view as well as for the environment. Produce such as broccoli, green beans, kale, red peppers, tomatoes, apricots and peaches are susceptible to nutrient loss when harvested and transported from longer distances, while fresh foods tend to have a higher nutrient value, if grown and harvested locally and given more time to ripen. As we head into the cooler months, here are some tasty, seasonal vegetables that belong to the ‘power-food’ category; they don’t require a horticultural degree to nurture and the added Green Therapy will provide extra health benefits.

Eggplant

purple anti-oxidant power-food

Cram-packed with vitamins and minerals, eggplants are rich sources of phenolic compounds that function as antioxidants. Generally, plants use these compounds to protect themselves against oxidative stress from the elements, as well as from infection by bacteria and fungi. The eggplant contains a particular phenolic compound, which is one of the most potent free radical scavengers providing anti-mutagenic benefits (anti-cancer), anti-microbial, anti-LDL (bad cholesterol) and anti-viral activities.

Tip:   Add roasted eggplant slices to pizza, pasta and salads

Parsnip

the perfect power-food snack

One of the greatest attributes of the humble parsnip is its ability to suppress the release of ghrelin, which is a “hunger” hormone. This makes it the perfect snack if you’re looking to lose weight. Parsnips also contain substantial amounts of soluble fibre – which has been associated with assisting with digestive disorders, reducing cholesterol and lowering the chance for developing diabetes. If heart health is of concern, the high levels of potassium and folate make the parsnip one of the most effective vegetables in promoting a healthy cardiovascular system, helping to reduce blood pressure and stress on the heart.

Tip:   Roast sliced parsnips and toss with a little sea salt, for snacking 

Leek

power-food for your arteries

Leeks belong to the Allium family along with garlic and onions all possessing disease-fighting properties known long before it was possible to identify their exact antibacterial properties. Today leeks are recognised as a source of Allicin - a antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal compound which helps in the prevention of clotting in the blood vessels, thus, decreasing the overall risk of coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular diseases, and stroke. In addition, leeks are known to ward off antibiotic-resistant superbugs, with this compound that may also neutralise dangerous free radicals faster than any other known compound. It’s a good idea to eat plenty of leeks if you’re pregnant or trying to fall pregnant, since the perfect concentration of Folic acid in leeks is essential for DNA synthesis and cell division and can help prevent neural tube defects in the newborn babies.

Tip:   Add lightly sautéed sliced baby leeks to mashed potato for added taste and a nutritious punch.

MINDFULNESS AND MEDITATION REVEAL PROVEN BENEFITS

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Recently our CEO Neroli Jones, had the privilege of attending a prestigious HR summit in the Gold Coast which proved to be enlightening on many levels, one being the growth and acceptance with which meditation and mindfulness has been accepted into the workplace. What might once have been judged as all a bit too ‘out there’ or ‘kooky’ within this environment has now become widely embraced as a proven technique to manage stress and enhance productivity.

INCREASE YOUR PERFORMANCE BY CALMING DOWN

The term “stress” was coined in 1942 by neuroscientists and was identified as a common life event placing physiological overload due to undue pressure. This potentially leads to long-lasting effects on our health and behaviour. Source Think of an ocean that can be choppy on the surface, but is always calm underneath. In a similar way, stress works on the surface, on our frontal lobe of the brain provoking the fight/flight reflex. If we are to bypass it, we need to delve deeper. Sadly, we live most of our lives on the surface. This is where meditation comes in, allowing us to access this calmer part of our brain, by shutting down the limbic brain and frontal lobe.   Stop being busy by staying on the surface While our fight or flight activation was important for survival, traditionally it was intended to be used only once a month or so. However today, in 2017 we tend to live there far too frequently - just like having our foot on the accelerator continuously, without using the brakes! Meditation helps us to take a break and heal.   With meditation our mind forces the body to slow down, allowing it the time to heal. Meditation lowers the body metabolic rate by 24%, while sleep lowers it by only 8%. When we meditate we cause the heart rate and lungs to slow down, as well as dropping our body temperature. This means less wear and tear on our body organs and cell mechanisms, less toxic chemicals are produced, more energy is saved and the natural processes of repair and rejuvenation are allowed to flow easily.    

MEDITATION GIVES US PERSPECTIVE

As meditation is soothing our overheated metabolism and slowing down body function, it allows us to look inside and see how we have allowed ourselves to speed up in the first place. We are given a new perspective by becoming aware of our roles, how we have been taught, trained and conditioned to act in set patterns without perhaps questioning them. Meditation first teaches us to be aware, and then gives us the capacity to slow down, take control, and focus. Meditation promotes mental clarity and coherence, as shown when we have an MRI that can measure transcendental consciousness - a state of restful alertness or meditative state. The body is allowed time to repair, the mind can focus and our general state of wellbeing is brought back into balance. It is no wonder the workplace has joined the rest of the world and is implementing the power of meditation. What works on an individual level is just as effective in a workplace.    

Why Yoga Teachers are Always Happy

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BE A WARRIOR NOT A WORRIER

As I walked into the yoga class and planted myself firmly cross-legged on my mat, I was given my mantra of the day

“ Set your intention for today as Acceptance”

Of yourself         Of others         Of your body

People annoy us and challenge us daily, we frustrate ourselves, we criticise what’s wrong with us - and the world, we self-judge and judge others, often without any background knowledge. We moan, we stress, we worry and we ruminate over things out of our control. All this can be eliminated with one clear mantra – Acceptance. If we smile and accept what is, we cannot be ruffled, we can protect ourselves from the outside stressors and build a sturdy Zen fence all around our happy inner beings.   Paradigm Switch yoga teacher, Jo Kirkpatrick shares similar guidance: “The 8 limbs of yoga are over 2000 years old and guide us on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life without suffering. According to Patangali, when you master being content with what you have, supreme happiness results. so much yogaTwo key elements in the philosophy of yoga include consistent practice and non-attachment. Those who practice the 8 limbs of Yoga, reap the rewards of life, free from misery. It is important to note that as with anything in life, good things only manifest as the result of hard work and discipline.”

Yoga is a life-long practice with new possibilities available, every time we enter a class.

  The oldest yoga teacher turned 98 this year, and looks like the happiest person alive. Tao is said to be full of joy and light, "Yoga is the essence of the dawn of life and it sparkles inwardly she says, “The greatest pleasure is to see someone suddenly realize there was nothing they could not do.” Yoga can be for everyone with the latest research from Roy Morgan showing one in 10 Australians (14+) now do Yoga. The number of women practicing yoga has doubled in the past 8 years, making yoga the fastest-growing sport or activity in the country. Despite being one of the lowest paid jobs, the yoga teacher ranked 10 in America in the most-sought-after careers list.

So what is it yoga yoga teachersteachers share in terms of job satisfaction?

It seems that yoga gives us the possibilities of accomplishing something seemingly impossible. The thrill arises from creating a space for healing, to be able to share the practice, watching transformation occur. This is fundamental to yoga. It’s all about giving - guiding students toward becoming the best version of themselves. Namaste :)    

Negative Thinking is an Addiction

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According to the National Science Foundation we think between 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day. Of these it is estimated that 95% are the same thoughts that run through our minds everyday. When you consider that our reality creates our mindset, it’s hardly surprising to learn that when we begin to think negatively, our world will eventually deteriorate, reflecting those thoughts. This is how we become addicted to negative thinking. Einstein quote thinking Think about it. It might seem as though we are just reacting to life events, but what is actually happening is that the negative thoughts in the first place are in fact facilitating most of those events. Be aware - it is not the other way round. So, if you want to change your life, you need to change your thinking. Can Albert Einstein be wrong? Every conscious thought is recorded by our subconscious mind. It never questions or disputes the validity of a thought. It literally takes our word for it. For example if we think “I’m never going to have any money” that fact is accurately and literally recorded. Your subconscious mind then communicates directly with the quantum energy field which then manifests your reality. The more negatively we think, the more this will be reflected in our everyday lives and experiences. It might be in an unexpected way, but the negativity will be there. This is the law of attraction, and it works regardless of if we understand how it works or not. Try these effective tools to dispel negative thinking:

  • Flip the mindset. Negative thinking is simply thinking about what you do not want, while positive thinking is thinking about what you do.  If you focus on a positive outcome, that is what the subconscious will record and pass it on to a reality.
  • Take responsibility Take responsibility for all your thoughts, and notice that you are not your thoughts. Try to separate your reactions from a life event and be aware of how you choose to react rather than repeating past, learnt behaviours. It will empower you from your negative thinking.
  • EFT Tapping can dispel  moods and feelings, making way for positive thoughts.
  • Make some endorphins The ‘happy’ hormones produced with the increased oxygen flow from exercise, will naturally alter your mindset.
  • Watch your words Avoid saying ‘but’ – “I love my work, but…..” or making false excuses – “I can’t stay because…”
  • Ask positive open-ended questions How can this get better? Where could this lead to? Don’t restrict yourself with answers, just put the thought out there.
Our minds are an amazing engine, capable of endless possibilities, the only thing that draws us back, is ourselves. Only you are the administrator of your destiny. holding the world"Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny." Frank Outlaw

Take a Break – Recharge tips for the brain, body and soul

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    Running from one activity to another everyday has become second nature to us. In fact, many of us become quite stressed and disorientated if we find ourselves with a sudden 20 minutes to spare, don’t we? Take_a_Break_4fa26c7f54347But taking time out of your day offers enormous benefits for the health and recharges  our stress and anxiety levels. We used to say “stop and smell the roses” which resonated with us for centuries. Ever wondered why?

The Brain

We have energy peaks and troughs cycling through 90-minute periods during our day. “Taking a 20-minute break between each of these allows us to get more done, at a higher level, in less time and with energy left to spare.” Advises medical practitioner, Dr Jenni Brockis. Students are urged to tune out or recharge intermittently, before neurotransmitters that send the brain messages are depleted and burnout is experienced. This is especially important for those with ADHD, Dyslexia or Anxiety Disorders. The brain gets fatigued just like our bodies, so a digital detox allows your brain some welcome recharge time, as well as reducing stress levels. Aim for a 15 minute digital break after every 2 hours’ work, to gain greater focus and clarity.

The Body

A good way to give our bodies a break is by reducing our intake of toxins. Consciously remove processed foods containing artificial additives, colours or preservatives from your diet to give the liver a rest. A break from alcohol and coffee will also “treat” your precious temple  to a rest; you will feel healthier and have noticeably more energy as a result. breakAt work, moving away from the desk, standing up and taking a few stretches every few hours, will come as a welcome relief for your back and neck and revitalise you on even the most sluggish of days. Sleep is probably the most under-rated body regenerator, where a minimum of 6-8 hours a night is recommended for happy healthy bodies.  

The Soul

Studies show encounters with  nature  help alleviate mental fatigue by relaxing and restoring the mind, which ultimately contributes to improved wellbeing, work performance and satisfaction. Combine some prtake a breakecious moments amidst nature with mindfulness – consciously becoming aware of the moment, harnessing the mind into the present – even just a few minutes a day can powerfully reduce stress and anxiety. One last thing - take a few minutes to do something nice. Praise  someone, notice how people support you and say Thank You! Time out :)            

5 Essential Yoga Poses to help you through the Day

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It's not always easy to get to a yoga class. But that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from some basic poses to nurture your body during the day. It only takes a few minutes in the morning, or set aside some time in the middle of the day, if you have the space. The word yoga, in Sanskrit means union of the mind and spirit - what better way to energise you for the day?  

  1. Cat-Cow Pose
catcow Cat-cow is the perfect way to wake up the entire spine after it's been  resting for a solid seven to eight hours. Start on your hands and knees in a neutral pose. From there, arch your spine up and look down at your thighs. Take a breath, bring your spine back to neutral and then look up while dropping your belly. Repeat this four times.  
  1. Downward Dog
DD pose This pose gets the entire body stretching out. It's a bit more intense than cat-cow, but it's another great way to wake up. Start on all fours with a flat, neutral spine. From there, lift your hips while bringing your ears between your arms and look down at your thighs. Bring your feet in as close as you can and try to press heels toward the ground. By ‘pedalling’ your feet you will wake up your hamstrings and calves. Hold for four breaths before coming back down to your hands and knees.  
  1. Forward Fold
  seated foldSit with your buttocks firmly on the floor and legs out straight. With a straight back, fold over from the hips, to reach the hands as far down the legs as possible. Grab your feet or ankles if you can.   This is a great pose to do after lunch as it aids in digestion. It also relieves stress, anxiety and reduces fatigue.  
  1. Half-Pigeon Pose
half pidgeon This is a good one to do at the end of the day as we hold a lot of tension in our hips. Opening them is relaxing for the body and helps it wind down. Start on all fours, lift one leg up and bring your shin parallel to the front of your mat while squaring off your hips. If this isn't easy for you -- and it isn't easy for most people, considering most of us have tight hips -- try using a block or a cushion to support your hip  and lean your forehead on on the mat, if possible. Hold for five breaths before changing sides.  
  1. Child’s Pose
  Child's pose is the ultimate relaxation pose – just perfect to prepare you for good night’s sleep. From kneeling position, sit on your heels with your thighs about as wide as your hips. Fold your body over your legs, and allow your forehead to rest on the mat. Keep arms close to your sides, palchilds posems up and take five deep, restorative breaths.   Child’s Pose is a good back and sacrum opener, to melt away the stress of the day.

Sleep Well. Live Well.

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Sleep is a hot topic these days with constant new research studies being released, the opening of specialist clinics and a multitude of apps you can buy, promising to monitor your sleep pattern in an attempt to keep pace with the rising incidence of insomnia.

Google sleep and nearly 800 million results come up!
So what’s the bottom line – what do we need to know now? We have summarised the hard facts and sorted through the blurb, so you can understand the importance of getting a good night’s sleep, for a healthier life.

Why sleep?

Believe it or not-
“You could survive for three times as long without food as you could without sleep” says Professor Colin Espie, of sleepio.com who has been researching sleep for over 30 years.
Sleep is essential to help maintain mood, memory and cognitive performance. You only need to watch an overtired mum dragging a difficult toddler about, to understand that. Or check out the barrage of warnings to STOP REVIVE SURVIVE to realise how dangerous deprived drivers can be. sleep Sleep also plays a role in the normal function of the endocrine and immune systems, key to cellular and tissue growth repair. During deep sleep, hormones are released such as growth hormone, which stimulates cell regeneration and is essential for growth and muscle development. It is no coincidence that after a good night’s sleep we wake up looking fresher and younger. Other hormones called ghrelin and leptin are regulated during sleep, which not only help to  keep our immune systems in check, but also play a huge role in our feelings of hunger and fullness.
This is why sleep-deprived people often feel the need to eat more and, as a result, gain weight. 

How to sleep better

Here are our top tips to get you started on sleeping sounder. While these might seem quite obvious, have a think about which ones you actually follow.
  • Turn off phones and electronics in the bedroom. The blue light tricks us into thinking it’s daylight and often prevents a deep sleep, while constant buzzing keeps you alert.
  • Do not use the bedroom as an office. Keep it well ventilated (core body temperature needs to stay cool for a deep sleep) and eliminate   any bright lights beaming in.
  • Try going to bed earlier. The old adage about an hour before midnight is worth two afterwards, holds true. A sleep app can be handy as it proves this point, thus encouraging us  to retire early. Try Sleep Cycle  app that monitors your sleep all night and wakes you gently when you’re in your lightest sleep, with your chosen sounds or music.
  • Using a lavender or magnesium spray can work wonders to induce relaxation. A familiar smell is especially helpful when  traveling and sleeping in a strange environment.
  • A magnesium supplement is renowned to relax the muscles; in addition it enhances mood, while zinc also has a calming and anti-depressant effect.
  • Herbal teas such as chamomile will quieten the mind, while  by lighting a candle, you can gently calm the eyes and soften the energy in a room. Remember to blow it out before you drift off though!

...sweet dreams...  

candle

Easy Ways to Control Stress at Work

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twitter stressNearly ten million working days were lost due to stress in 2014/15, according to the  public body Health  and Safety Executive.   The online stress tracker Twitter Stress-O-Sphere says that people tweet about stress every two seconds, with 17% of these tweets relating to employment. Career anxieties consist of seven per cent, with stress making up six per cent. Adrenalin is only meant to be released into the body as a short term response to a stress situation, however the lifestyles that we currently lead, especially at work, mean that we are producing constant adrenalin into our systems which can lead to adrenal system overload and adrenal fatigue.

So what can we do to alleviate stress in our daily routine?

Joanna Kilpatrick PS yoga, pilates and meditation guru recommends we control our parasympathetic nervous system that supports us to stay calm and relaxed, while taking the pressure off our adrenals. You can do this with meditation, conscious breathing and yoga which all cause a physiological response, resulting in calming down the sympathetic nervous system. Some simple stretches or 5 minutes of mindfulness or meditation will not only make you feel better but will also help you perform more effectively at work. Emotional Freedom Technique commonly known as Tapping is another way we can reduce our stress levels. Tapping works on our energy flow and the clever technique that can be done anywhere, at anytime, will effectively clear blockages, allowing us to think clearer and release any tension build-up. “EFT is a wonderful way of using your own body’s energy and healing power to produce immediate results.” confirms Margaret Munoz author of several books and a teacher of the technique to hundreds of converts for over 18 years. stress Remember stress breeds stress. One of the most effective ways you can manage it is by working through it. That could well mean confronting your boss or colleague, talking about an issue at work. Often a surprisingly quick fix can restore energy levels and a calmer workplace. Solutions to problems will almost always calm stress levels.

Health Burn Out Ignites Paradigm Switch

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Neroli Jones founded Paradigm Switch for a reason. Find out why here... Health Burn Out Ignites Paradigm Switch