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.
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. (more…)
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. (more…)
Just as we are slowing down from all the activity and excitement of the holiday season and entering the winter months when people often experience a situational mood depression and are tempted to hibernate, the New York Times is talking about research on the minimum amount of physical activity necessary to prevent psychological distress.
More than 19,000 Scottish citizens were included in this study, utilizing Scottish Health Surveys and the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12). The researchers took into account participants’ differences in age, gender, social economic status, marital status, BMI, long-term illness, and smoking when compiling the results. It is not surprising that they found that daily physical activity was correlated with a lower risk of psychological distress. Activities noted as physical exercise included athletics, walking, gardening, and housework. Although even daily vacuuming and dusting can improve your mental health (and your physical environment), researchers did report less risk of psychological distress for those participating in athletics. (more…)
There are many foods that are bad for your heart health. But your emotional health can play a role as well. In a new Swedish study, men who tend to bottle up their anger about being unfairly treated in their place of employment have double the risk of a heart attack.
Researchers from Stockholm looked at 2,755 male employees who had not had a heart attack before the study began.
The men were asked which coping methods they used. They were asked if they dealt with problems head-on, or if they didn’t say anything and just walked away from conflict. Also, the researchers asked if they developed symptoms such as headache or stomach ache or got into arguments at home. (more…)
Is there anything negative to say about exercise?
According to a recent article in The New York Times, exercise not just enhances mood and reduces anxiety but scientists are on the groundbreaking cusp of understanding the physiological processes that enable you to feel that amazing workout high after a long run or trek on the treadmill.
We have long known that exercise enables the growth of new brain cells. But at an October meeting for the Society for Neuroscience in Chicago, researchers from Princeton University revealed a startling revelation: In response to exercise, brains are calmer and more able to respond to stressful stimuli than brains that have not been exposed to regular exercise.
Who here hasn’t had suffered from a food coma a time or two? Well, some history is not worth repeating. Take it from me, you can have fun, enjoy all the Thanksgiving harvest, and still fit into your jeans the next day. But how do you avoid this whole “food coma” thing? It starts with understanding what makes you feel that way. There’s a couple things going on and it’s hormonal.
Tryptophan, Serotonin and Melatonin
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid (protein building block the body cannot make). It is high in many protein rich foods, like turkey. Tryptophan helps build muscle like other amino acids, but it is also a specific precursor of serotonin. Nearly all serotonin is in the gut where it regulates GI movement, but about 20% is actually dispersed in the central nervous system (CNS) where it regulates mood, appetite, sleep, muscle contraction, and some cognitive functions including memory and learning. Some serotonin can become melatonin, which regulates your sleep/wake cycles. (more…)
There is more than one way to skin a cat. And that strange and grotesque cliche happens to apply to your weight loss approach. There are many diets that will get you to your goal weight, but not all of them will also have the added benefit of improving your mood.
According to a new study, only low-fat diets will help with long-term mood improvement.
“This study looked at one factor, and prior studies haven’t focused on psychological factors,” says Dr. Ewald Horvath, interim chairman of psychiatry at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “This is a great study focusing on something very important.” (more…)
According to the background information provided, Live Happy is a positive psychology iPhone app based on the happiness research of psychology professor and author of The How of Happiness, Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky. The app includes personalization based on short quizzes and research-based activities that can increase happiness. These activities include:
Expressing Gratitude Directly
Keeping a Gratitude Journal
Replaying Happy Days
Keeping a Savoring Album
Envisioning Your Best Possible Self
and Remembering Acts of Kindness (more…)
How many times have we said this to ourselves: “If only I could lose 10 pounds, then I would be happy,” or “I can never be truly happy as long as my back continues to hurt.”
What it takes to be happy may not be a consequent of losing weight or having a pain-free lumbar spine, but rather, making the choice to be a happy person irrespective of weight or pain may determine just how healthy we can be.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Rick Foster, one of the co-authors of Happiness & Health. Rick and fellow author Greg Hicks discuss their breakthrough research and findings on what it takes to find the two things we covet most in life: Happiness and Health. Rick and Greg are also the authors of the bestselling and international sensation How We Choose to Be Happy.
Continue reading to see the interview. (more…)