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WOMEN’S HEALTH

LEAF MINDFULNESS WOMEN'S HEALTH

What you need to know about stress

about stress

Stress, the enemy of the modern woman. The truth is, not all stress is necessarily ‘bad’. Stress is a physical response of your body to an unexpected situation that causes the fight or flight response. It demands you kick into action and react. Sometimes that can be a good thing. The point at which stress goes from being that additional push to having a negative effect on your mind and body is when it becomes chronic. Chronic stressors include a variety of things such as an overload of work, financial difficulties, marital arguments, family problems or even the frustration of traffic jams. It is the cumulative effect of all the minor situations that you push down during the day, that end up summoning forth the stress monster.

How does stress really impact your body?

Chronic stress will weaken the immune system and cause high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and even heart disease. The impacts of stress on health vary amongst people, but what most have in common are feelings of anxiety, depression and sleep problems. Things that can greatly impact your everyday lifestyle and hinder you from fulfilling your true potential. Luckily, there are ways to combat stress and lessen its impact on your mind and body.

The first step is determining which physical aspects will make you more susceptible to stress. While we are unable to predict external stressors or create an emotional barrier that would be able to serve as protection, we can train our bodies to be better resistant to stress.

Leaf to the rescue!

Therefore, step one is becoming aware of which aspects of your physical health will impact your stress levels, and how.

A good tool for that is our health tracker, Leaf. It will track your activity, sleep, reproductive health and use the cumulative data to estimate your physical resistance to stress each day. It helps bring awareness as to which areas of your health have room for improvement, and how much each factor contributes to your decreasing stress resistance. Perhaps one of the best parts of the Leaf is that it doesn’t just stop there. It offers a way to de-stress, if you ever feel overwhelmed, in the form of meditations.

about stress

Meditate the stress away!

It’s possible you’re rolling your eyes now, or just very convinced that meditating isn’t for you. Many assume that they simply can’t meditate, because they don’t like what they are currently familiar with in terms of meditation. Maybe you just can’t relax when someone is talking, or you find it hard to clear your mind especially when someone else tells you to. Maybe you see no point in repeating some mantra all the time in your head because it just makes your mind wander away more. Everyone is unique, so why should the way everyone meditates be the same or similar?

The goal of meditation is to push other thoughts out of your head, and exist in the moment. Why is that important in relation to stress? Stress is caused by worrying about the future, about the way a current or past situation will impact the following days or even the next few hours. Which is why stress usually comes hand in hand with anxiety – creating additional worry about the future and your place in it, and depression – there to help you convince yourself of failure before you’ve even started. That’s why meditation is the perfect tool to fight stress away. Meditating will help you stay in the present, without overthinking about the future, and often once you’re done with your meditation things will seem a bit clearer and less dark.

Give it a chance!

Hopefully this has at least made you consider giving meditating an honest chance. Now, the trick to doing it successfully is finding what works for you. Audio guided meditations aren’t your thing? You don’t like continually repeating the same mantra in your head?

Have you tried playing ambient sounds and just focusing on your breathing? Sometimes that is all it takes, just taking deep breaths and relaxing with sounds that will take your mind away from the present. If you feel your thoughts drifting, don’t try to force yourself not to think. Focus on your breath, and let the inhale and exhale take over your mind. After a while your thoughts should start fading out.

Try this method the next time, or use it to find one that works for you. Meditation is for everyone, but not everyone meditates the same way.

About stress

The meditations in the Bellabeat app come in a variety of forms – those that are guided by a soothing voice, or simply 3D ambient sounds that can take you on your own journey. All meditations are monitored by the Leaf which tracks your breathing and determines the quality of meditation you’ve accomplished. You also have the ability set your own meditation goals and enhance them as you progress. A great tool to help you improve on your meditation step by step.

 

 

December 6, 2017
ACTIVITY WOMEN'S HEALTH

Why you shouldn’t compare yourself to others

Why you shouldn't compare

When it comes to fitness, we’ve all found ourselves gazing at all those fitness models or trainers trying to image our heads on their bodies instead. Sometimes this can be a strong motivation, but other times it can have the exact opposite effect. Especially if you notice that no matter how hard you try, you just can’t look the way they do.

Competitions and contests are often used in fitness for the purpose of community – you’re aware you’re not the only one working on your health and this inspires you to continue and work hard! But then again, this can have the opposite effect both on your motivation and your self-esteem.

 

There is one very important thing to remember – not one single person on Earth is the same. You don’t have the same metabolism, body shape, or needs as anyone else – so comparing yourself to someone doesn’t really make a lot of sense when you look at it like that. Comparison puts the focus on another person, when the focus should be on YOU. What you need and what your body needs.

So here are some suggestions that might help you stop yourself when you start comparing yourself to others.

@bella_be_active

Make Goals that are attainable for YOU.

The first goals you set should not be something you will work weeks to achieve. Whether that is setting up your Activity Goal in the Leaf app, or deciding on a weight loss goal if you are working on losing a few pounds – make sure it is something you can reach within 1-2 weeks. Start small. Just seeing the progress you make, and knowing you managed to reach the first goal you set up will give you an additional boost to keep going. Once you reach the first goal you set, keep enhancing it further. Keep in mind how long it takes you to reach the goal you previously set when setting up the next one. If you reached it faster than usual, enhance the goal more than you normally would.

 

Accept yourself.

Working on your fitness, or health and trying to do better means that there are certain aspects of your life that you aren’t happy with. However, by focusing on these bad or negative habits you are trying to get rid of, you won’t feel as high in spirit or ready to take on everything. The best way to prevent that is to accept yourself. Even with the flaws, and the bad habits you are trying to erase. Accept yourself as unique, different and flawed. Acceptance doesn’t have to mean resignation to stay the same – acceptance can mean motivation. How? If you’re okay with who you are but aware you can do better – and determine to do better – you won’t feel as discouraged or give up as easily.

 

Remind yourself of your accomplishments and determination.

If you ever feel down because of someone else – you feel you haven’t worked as hard, or gotten as many results, or you’re just simply unhappy remind yourself of what you have achieved. Make a list of things you have accomplished thus far in life through hard work and determination – no matter how small you may think the victory was put it down there! It will serve as a reminder of all you can achieve when you put in a little determination.

 

Create a mantra you can repeat if you feel down.

Pick a sentence you can repeat to yourself for a quick pick me up. Something that inspires you on a personal level. It has to mean something to you, not to anyone else – so if they don’t work for you, don’t opt out for a classing mantra. Think of something that always makes you smile and pushes you to try even harder.
@bella_be_active

It’s hard not to compare yourself to others. We’re used to it from childhood – magazines and TV always gave us unattainable ideals that everyone was supposed to match. But you’re not just a picture in a magazine, or a smile on a screen. You’re a person all of your own, and don’t let anyone devalue that – even if that someone is you!

November 29, 2017
MINDFULNESS WOMEN'S HEALTH

Unhealthy habits gone in 3, 2, 1

Healthy woman with flower

One evening an old Cherokee Indian told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He explained that there are two wolves inside all people.

One of them is bad, and represent self-pity, resentment, inferiority. The other one is good and stands for joy, peace, and love.

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ‘Which wolf wins?’

The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one you feed.’

Woman running on beach

Which habit do you feed?

This story can be interpreted as a parable of good and bad choices we make, actions we do, and habits we “feed”.

I’m sure you’ve learned by now that repeatedly doing the same thing turns it into a habit. When you form a habit, there is no longer any need to think about it – you do it naturally. This can be anything from washing your hands as soon as you get home, to stretching first thing in the morning. Habits can come in pretty handy if they’re supportive habits that help you live at peace, save you time and make you feel happier. Picture yourself eating healthily automatically. Or a scenario in which working out becomes your second nature. Just imagine… But, in order to start developing a good habit, first we need to get rid of the bad ones – those that undermine us on our road to living the optimal way of life.

How to unlearn unhealthy habits?

Stage 1

In order to break a bad habit, we need to determine what that habit is. Even if there are more, start with one. Have a clear understanding of what that habit is and what makes it harmful to you. If you want to stay adamant in vanquishing it, go the extra mile and ask yourself these questions: Is this habit stopping me from achieving my goals? What kind of a person would I be if I kicked this habit? Are there any benefits of keeping this habits?

Stage 2

Let’s say that your habit is reaching for the cookie jar. Take notice of when you turn to your habit. Try to catch the thought that precedes your action. When does it usually happen? How do you feel in that moment? What type of situation makes you do it? Next, create a substitute action plan. Next time your hand goes for the sweet temptation, have a plan B planned: grabbing a glass of water, leaving the room and calling your friend, grabbing pen and paper and writing down the answer to the questions above.

Woman doing yoga

Stage 3

Go time. Now you know which triggers to be on the lookout for. When you catch your trigger thought/situation say stop out loud. This can be tricky if you’re surrounded by people, so in that case, count to 10. Not 3, not 7, 10. This will give you time to reassess. Next, divert your mind and replace your usual habit with your plan B action. If one doesn’t cut it, go for the next one. In case the need doesn’t stop, think of all the benefits losing this habit brings. Switch perspectives – you’re trying out something new, and that is a wonderful experience. Take the first step, see that is can be done. Then take another one, see what lies beyond. Your fear will soon give way to curiosity.

Stage 4

Stop beating the drum of what makes you feel bad and start deliberately focusing on the things that make you feel good. On the occasions you succeed, allow yourself to feel good and empowered. On the occasions you don’t succeed, accept it and remember you’ve taking quite an undertaking. One failure does not define you, get back on your feet and be even more determined next time. This ongoing encouragement will help you feed the good wolf inside you and the unhealthy habit is bound to disappear.

Stage 5

Focus on empowering yourself. You are NOT your habit. You did not always have this habit, and you can be free of it again. You can create greater peace, confidence and a more positive outlook by learning how to manage your thoughts. After all, you can do whatever you set your mind to because you have the power of choice. Seize it and see where it takes you.


November 14, 2017
WOMEN'S HEALTH

Fear : Good or Bad? A bit of both.

Fear

When asked whether fear is good or bad, the majority of people would tell you ‘bad’ without needing to think twice about it. But that’s not necessarily true.

 

Before we get into it, let’s make one thing clear : if you have any heart issues, or struggle with anxiety all fear is bad fear for you. If you do fit into those categories, and are aware that you react to scary situations intensely, you already know to stay away from them. However, if you’re one of the people who love scary movies or can’t wait to be terrified by a haunted house on Halloween – there’s an explanation as to why that is.

 

What is fear?

Fear is the natural response of your body to being threatened. The signal for your brain to enter fight or flight. When fear is created due to a situation you’ve been put into and have no control over it’s an inherently bad thing that could cause stress and anxiety. If the constant state of fear remains, your health could deteriorate and could cause an emotional trauma. When that happens don’t let the fear overcome you. Think about your fear and analyze exactly what is causing you to feel that way. Think about the worst case scenario you can encounter. Do research on what you can do to help resolve the subject of your fear and if there is nothing you can do to influence the outcome reach for some relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga.

 

It’s an entirely different kind of fear experience, when you seek it out. If you’ve put yourself in a scary situation on purpose – watching a movie, telling scary stories with friend or visiting a haunted house – you’re in control of the situation. Even though you might feel the fear, you subconsciously know that there is no rational basis behind it as it is caused by a fake and simulated environment. Knowing you are in control of the situation, gives you the chance to experience fear in a different way.

 

Fear

 

Why do we seek that kind of fear-thrill?

Some of the chemicals released during scary situation is the same chemicals released when you are feeling joy or excitement – endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals serve to oxygenate your muscles which is how your body prepares for the flight or fight scenario, only when it comes to controlled environments, you get to enjoy the adrenaline rush without the additional worry.

When you scare someone you’ll find their reaction is first anger or shock at being scared, followed by laughter and a feeling of relaxation once they realize the scary environment was just temporary simulated. Of course, you need to keep in mind the first things mentioned – someone who has heart issues or struggles with anxiety won’t see this as a temporary scare.  For them the feeling of fear will linger even after they realize it was fake.

 

The conclusion is – in controlled environments fear can be a good way to clear your mind with an adrenaline rush. But you need to be aware of who you are putting in the scary situation. Not everyone react and feels fear the same way, so make sure you check with your loved ones how they feel towards being scared before you pull any Halloween pranks.

 

Fear

October 31, 2017
WOMEN'S HEALTH

Tea and health go hand in hand!

Tea and health

Tea can do wonders for your health, it’s not just a myth. Each tea has a certain thing it’s good for, which can make finding the right one without doing some intensive searches difficult. Maybe you just aren’t that fond of tea to put the extra effort in. But the winter days are approaching, and tea is the perfect drink for those cold days and nights.

 

If you try drinking tea for a week or two, you will already start feeling the benefits. You will have more energy, be in a better mood, and you will just feel like you’re overall healthier. It’s not just in your head, tea does help your health!

Here is a list of the best teas you can use for health :

Tea and health

Oolong

Oolong tea combines the health benefits of both green and black tea. It contains a number of useful antioxidants, and Chinese herbalists believe that it is effective in improving symptoms associated with weak kidney and spleen energy. Along with that, this tea is often recommended for its great weight–loss properties. The polyphenols in oolong tea help with enhancing the function of your metabolism and would help your body burn fat cells more easily.

Tea and health

Black

Black tea is known as many people’s healthy alternative to coffee. This is because black tea is famous for it’s ability to banish fatigue, stimulate mental alertness and raise energy levels. It;s also been known to reduce stress hormone levels and act as a nerve sedative which helps with relieving headaches. Black tea also contains antioxidants which may help to protect your body from the ravages of aging and environmental effects. It is also known for its antiviral and antibacterial properties. There are alternative uses that also have a medicinal purpose as it can be topically applied to cuts, bruises and burns, and is well known for its sunburn relief.

Tea and health

Green

I’m sure you’ve already been told about the great health benefits of green tea by someone in your life. When people implement green tea in their daily lifestyle, they can feel a change – which makes them want to share this news with everyone and leads to you rolling your eyes into infinity. Maybe you think to yourself that with that taste, for you to drink green tea it would need to first cook you dinner and give you a massage. Green tea is a bit of an acquired taste – but it truly does get acquired. If you drink it every day, after a week the flavor will be so mild you won’t even notice it. Every year scientists find more and more health benefits in green tea, so don’t let minor things stop you from giving it a try. It has a very potent anti microbial actions and has been proven to lower cholesterol as well as inhibit the increase of blood pressure. When it comes to dental hygiene it also prevents the formation of plaque on teeth and cavities. Green tea has also been found to help inhibit cancer growth.

Tea and health

White

White tea is made of the least oxidized leaves of all the other tea types. That detail helps keep more of the medicinal elements in the tea intact. Along with similar benefits of green tea – anti-microbial, lowers cholesterol, and inhibits increase of blood pressure – white tea will also help you keep your skin acne-free. White tea is widely used in beauty and cosmetic products, with the promise that its high antioxidant content will keep your skin looking young. Along with that, this tea also helps create a calmer but more alert state of mind, which means it can help you relax and concentrate more fully on tasks. Fun fact : Buddhist monks drank white tea to keep them from falling asleep during meditation.

Tea and health

Chamomile

Chamomile is a flowering plant in the daisy family and is 100% caffeine-free. Traditionally people used chamomile to help with sleep and relaxation, so a cup before going to bed should help you slip into dream land more easily – and work on hitting your sleep goal in the Leaf app. The essential oil in chamomile is bisabolol which has a number of anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. Due to that, it can help alleviate a number of common ailments such as :

  • Insomnia and other sleep disorders
  • Stomach problems such as menstrual cramps, stomach flu and ulcers
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Muscle twitches

And much more.

Tea and health

Echinacea

Echinacea is rumored to improve symptoms of cold, flu and sinuses as well as being immune-boosting benefits to your body. In translation, this tea is absolutely perfect for the upcoming weather and keep you from succumbing to those colds and flus that will be wreaking havoc. It reduces pain and inflammation which helps prevent the common cold. The best part however, is that this tea doesn’t taste medicinal. It’s not a flavor that might take some time to get used to and it doesn’t taste like herbs in fact it has almost fruity, floral notes. Give it a try and see for yourself!

 

Tea and health

Ginger – lemon

Ginger is among those teas that everyone has heard the benefits of already. It serves as a perfect dose of vitamin C and will kick-start your circulation. Not only that but it increases energy and helps digest our food, along with controlling problems like nausea. It has anti-inflammatory properties which also makes it helpful to arthritic patients.

What makes ginger tea even more awesome, is when you mix it with lemon. Ginger has an active ingredient called zingiber, and lemon contains the immune-boosting compounds pectin and limonene. This makes for one epic due that serves as a weapon against bacterial infections.

Tea and health

Peppermint

Most might recognize mint as an aid in digestion, relieving feelings of nausea, and even reducing flatulence, but there are also a few benefits you might not know about. Peppermint teas can help alleviate the pain of headaches associated with menstrual cramps! So if you tend to experience those, try giving this tea a chance when that time of the month comes. It can also help with breathing troubles such as asthma, as the smell of mint opens up blocked breathing passages. One of the best parts is, if you drink it in the morning it will give you a boost of energy even though it’s completely caffeine free! So if you’re looking to replace coffee, but nothing seems to wake you up, try drinking a nice cup of mint tea!

Tea and health

Dandelion

Maybe you’ve heard of this, or maybe you’re just staring at the screen in puzzlement thinking to yourself that you’ve probably stepped on or played with at least a 100 of these as a kid. Well, surprise surprise, you can make tea from the plant’s leaves and flowers. It contains immense vitamins and minerals which are good for your body. One of the benefits is improving your digestive system and liver functions but it also lowers fluid retention which means it provides a soothing pleasure to the pain and swelling cause by arthritis.

October 25, 2017