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3 New Comfort Foods that Boost Mood While Improving Wellness

Most of us have heard of comfort food. Sticky, gooey, chocolate chip cookies straight out of the oven, a plate of warm mashed potatoes and rich gravy, or a bowl full of creamy chicken and dumpling soup are just a few items that come to mind when the need for some self-pampering arises. The problem is, the food we reach for when we need comfort is usually far from comforting. Indigestion and bloating, heartburn, or pure guilt are just a few of the nagging side effects that can actually worsen our mood as a result of our epicurean indulgence.

If you’re going to sink in to comfort food and eat feelings of happiness, sadness, or just overall feel good, try these three foods that you wouldn’t think of as typical comfort foods. These actually have the ability to lift your spirits and get rid of the blahs without the bloat.

Watermelon

This cooling fruit not only tastes great and has a pleasurable texture, but it conjures up memories or images of picnics, family gatherings, and summer vacation, too. When you eat a slice of watermelon, listen for the crunch, feel your mouth water, and have some fun spitting the seeds onto the ground. Turn an ordinary eating experience into an adventure, and before you know it, you will feel like a kid again, tickled by a childlike zest for life.
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3 Yoga Poses That Boost Mood and Energy

It is easy to feel lazy or lethargic in the heat of summer. Some days the thought of dragging yourself to the gym or the yoga studio is the last thing you want to do, even though you know it will make you feel better. If your youthful enthusiasm is wavering and your upbeat mood is suffering, you might find that just a few minutes of doing the right thing is all you need to get your energy back.

The following are three yoga and martial arts inspired exercises that are sure to bring your mood from drab to dynamite, plus give you a youthful and positive frame of mind.

Mountain Pose

This yoga pose can be practiced anywhere, and at anytime of day.

Stand tall, raise your arms up overhead, and take several powerful deep breaths. The fresh oxygen that will be coursing through your veins will refresh your brain. Standing in this pose energizes your core, your arms, and your legs, so take advantage of it whenever you can.
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Teens May Benefit from Yoga More than Traditional Physical Education Classes

Attention high school teachers! Do you find yourself rushing to yoga after school to help you deal with the stress of being around teenagers all day? Perhaps you do, and you go because you know after an hour of yoga you will feel better, calmer, and have more energy for an evening of grading papers. It is generally understood that after practicing yoga, your mind will be clearer and as a result, you won’t stress over the little things that would otherwise bog you down and wear you out.

But if you are stressed from being around teens all day, how do you think the teens feel after constantly being around each other? Peer pressure, hormones, social anxieties and low self-esteem are all components that contribute to having a high level of stress.

The Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics recently piloted a study to determine the psychological effects of yoga on high school students. Led by Jessica Noggle of the Harvard Medical School in Boston, the results of the study concluded positive benefits of yoga on teenagers.

For ten weeks, one group of teenagers participated in regular physical education classes, while the other group practiced Kripalu yoga; a style of yoga that consists of yoga poses, breathing exercises and meditation. Prior to the start of the PE or yoga program, and after ten weeks of attendance in class, students completed a run of psychologically focused tests. Testing included measuring states of anxiety, tension and mood.


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The Benefits of Chocolate for the Body, Mind and Soul

As we head towards the holidays (or as I like to call it, sweets season) there is temptation everywhere for overindulgence. Before you dive headfirst into the Skittles and Twizzlers, consider chocolate as an occasional treat. Ghirardelli has traced chocolate back more than 4,000 years to the culture of the Mayas in Central and South America.

It was introduced to Europe in the 1500s but reinvented by European chocolatiers as a sweet confection. In the 1800s, it was re-introduced to Americans and remains a favorite snack and dessert. Though chocolate is usually high in fat and calories it does have some healthful benefits for your mind, body and as some might contend, your soul.
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Yoga Shown to Improve Happiness

Yoga is such a great activity. It is relaxing, improves your flexibility, improves your mind-body connection and certain yoga poses can even improve your strength. Overall, yoga is a fantastic compliment to your other fitness activities, but researchers have found a new benefit to regular yoga sessions: happiness!

That’s right, the regular practice of yoga has been shown to actually improve mood better than walking. We’ve already reported that exercise may be as effective as anti-depressants, but this new research published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine actually shows an association between yoga postures, increased mood and decreased anxiety. Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) compared the neurotransmitter brain gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels of those doing yoga with those of participants who spent time walking. Low GABA levels are associated with depression and other anxiety disorders.
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