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Monthly Archives: March 2015

Mental & Physical Health

Most people today would agree that health is not a one-dimensional experience. Commonly accepted definitions of health, such as that put forward by the World Health Organisation, incorporate physical, mental and social aspects of health. It follows that being healthy does not just mean being physically fit. Being of sound mind is also important, as is social wellness or the ability to form and maintain a network of friends and associates. Some would add spiritual health as another aspect of wellbeing. But what is the relationship between these components of health, and what is the implication of being strong in one area and/or lacking in another. In particular, what is the connection between mental and physical health and what does “healthy body, healthy mind” really mean ?

It is common to consider aspects of health as interdependent; that is, each element influences the other. Practitioners using this type of health model would look at the balance between aspects of health when assessing wellbeing. They may suggest activity in one realm to offset an over-emphasis in another. For example, someone who is working long hours in an office expending much mental energy and heading toward “burnout” may be advised to incorporate more physical exercise into his/her lifestyle in order to bring the wellness system into balance. This may seem like a simple remedy, but the implications can be quite profound. Making even a small effort in a (previously) neglected realm often results in a much more balanced perspective. By taking some time out to work on the physical aspect of health the mind gets a well-earned break and would most likely return to work refreshed and invigorated. Within this framework a balance of the health components is advocated and over-attention to one component of health is not.

It is generally accepted that there is a relationship between physical and mental health. Many athletes would agree that it takes a great deal of mental effort to sustain physical performance. You need only think of a momentary lapse in concentration, say in a game of tennis; to see how closely related the mental and physical aspects of sporting performance are. Although the impact of the mind on physical performance is generally accepted the influence of physical activity on mental health is not as widely acknowledged or understood. There has, however, been research supporting the notion that physical activity has the capacity to enhance mental health. Physical activity had been linked to a host of outcomes including positive mood, lower levels of depression and elevated alertness and concentration. Many would attribute these associations to chemical changes occurring within the body when physical exercise is performed. Other explanations are less direct and implicate factors such as the social aspects of exercise or the sense of mastery achieved in participating in sport. Although there is definitely some relationship between physical health and mental health, the pathways between the two are not yet fully understood.

It is important to keep in mind that the positive impact of physical exercise on mental health or wellbeing is relevant for mental health but not necessary mental ill-health. It would be unlikely that someone suffering from a mental illness, such as schizophrenia, would be prescribed exercise as a remedy. If it was as simple as physical health = mental health, there would be little need for psychologists. However, most health practitioners would agree that physical exercise is often a useful adjunct to therapy for mild mental conditions where physical exercise has been linked to positive treatment outcomes.

Juice Fasting for better Health

WARNING: Before attempting a Juice Fast I highly advise you to check with your Physician.

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to improve my health and I’ve come to love short-term Juice fasts. While most people watch shows like Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead and come away thinking you have to go on a 60 day Juice fast to do it correctly, this is far from the truth. In fact, in that documentary, the creator, Joe Cross, even states that if you can go on a 10 day Juice fast “good on you.”

But even if that sounds crazy or impossible, how about trying a 2 or 3 day fast just to give it a shot? The only thing that will happen is that you will drop some pounds and feel more energetic, as well as focused. We all tend to eat fast food and we all realize that it’s bad for us. Because of this, I’ve decided to try a Monthly Juice fast that lasted at least 2-3 days at a time, and I seemed to lose most of the fast food weight that I gained, as well as started feeling a bit healthier. I found that I wanted to spend more time walking on the treadmill and bike and I went for longer walks with my dogs more frequently.

Juicing has allowed me to refocus on my diet over and over, after I noticed that I had slipped up here and there. You know how it is — you go out with your family or friends, order a Coca Cola instead of a water, end up getting a slightly heavier meal that has more carbs, fat and calories, all while you’re missing out on nutrition, of course. With juicing I am reminded that I want to live longer, be healthier and, basically, just stay at a healthier weight. In America it’s not hard to gain fat very quickly, so having the ability to readjust your mindset will benefit you in the long run.

So, how do you get started with Juicing? First, I would get a good juicer if you’re serious about losing fat and getting healthier. A good juicer will last you a long time and it can also help you stay consistent. A good juicer will make things easier to juice and clean up as well!

My favorite Veggies to juice are: Kale (this is one of the healthiest veggies you can eat), Cucumber (gives it a watermelon taste), spinach and, (or) if you can’t find Kale, any big leafy greens will do. Greens are very good for you and will help you detox quickly.

My favorite fruits to juice are: Apples (all types, although I like to mix them once in a while), Berries (all types, although I do mix them), Lemon (1 will do in a big container of juice, otherwise cut it in half as it tends to be very strong), and sometimes grapes and cherries (yum!). As a matter of fact, if you find that your juice is not very tasty, I definitely urge you to give cherries a shot. They will make your juice much sweeter, although you should try not to add too many.

If you’ve never been on a juice fast before just remember that it’s not easy for most people. You have to really want to give it a real try. I do recommend that you watch Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, as it will not only get you pumped up to try out juice fasting, but it will also give you a better idea of what you’re about to try out. Juice fasting is a great way to lose weight fast, but do keep in mind that it can be dangerous if you try to do too much and you’re not in the best health. This is why I do want you to talk to your physician prior to trying it out so that you can make sure you’re not attempting too much.

Get yourself mentally ready or else you may give up too quickly. While it’s good to drink more juice, the goal is to go on a fast of nothing but juice. This means no solid foods, nothing to drink but water and all-natural, fresh juice. I should also add that we’re not talking about picking up one of those containers of Superfood juices that are pre-made and have been sitting around for weeks or months. Those juices are hardly the same thing!

What about fiber? Juicing doesn’t give you much fiber, so for some people it may be beneficial to take some sort of fiber supplement every day.

I will be writing more about Juice Fasting, so please come back and check out my other articles over time! Let me know how your progress goes or even ask any questions you may have, below!

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Health benefits of Mountain Tea

Since coming to Greece I have been introduced to a variety of herbal teas, one of which has become a favourite, namely Mountain Tea. Its botanic name is Sideritis, but it is also known as ironwort.
It grows 3,300 feet high in the mountains of Greece, hence the name, it is also known as Shepherds Tea and the Greeks have been drinking it since the time of Hippocrates who believed it to have healing properties.

Modern researchers tend to agree with him, as among other attributes it has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which is good to know but I drink it because I like its taste.

I’m enjoying a late cup of mountain tea as I write, it has no caffeine so it will not keep me awake.

The dried stalks do not look very promising, more stalk then leaf with a few buds at the top. I put two or three stems in a saucepan of cold water, bring it to the boil and add a generous pinch of cinnamon. I let it boil for two or three minutes and then strain it into a cup adding a squeeze of lemon juice for good measure, and a half a teaspoon of sugar because I have a weakness that way…

I recommend you try a cup yourself, it is warm and comforting and tasteful. The perfect nightcap in my opinion.

Protect your Mental Health

Protect your Mental Health

Mental and emotional health is a vital part of wellbeing. ‘There is no health without mental health”, says Professor Jane Fisher, the Jean Hailes Professor of Women’s Health at Monash University. ‘Take the time to focus on the positive and the things you can do to boost your mental health and sense of wellbeing.”

Close relationships are one of the most important protective factors for mental health, says Prof Fisher. “Nourish good relationships, be committed to them, and get professional help to address destructive or negative relationships if necessary.”

To build new connections with people who share your interests, you could contribute to activities and projects in your local community or join a voluntary organisation, choir, mother’s group, etc.

Poor physical health or ongoing health conditions can limit your ability to do things, and can affect your mental health. Have regular health checks, and try to be as physically active as you can – There are many free or low cost activities that can keep you active, such as walking groups and community gardens, and these can also give you a break from everyday worries.

Every day, try to find something that gives you a sense of reward or achievement. It might be a simple thing like preparing an evening meal, putting a new plant in the garden, or contributing to a project at work.

If you have any concerns about your mood, mental health or physical wellbeing, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Share with a friend, or seek professional help.

Prof Fisher will talk about the importance of mental health at midlife in the free webcast event -Fifty Shades of Midlife – menopause, mood & more’ on 31 October. Book now at

Published with the permission of the Jean Hailes Foundation for Women’s Health

Tollfree number 1800 151 441 for women seeking further health information

Annals of Idiocy: Discouraging Students who Need Help

Getting right to the point, it is highly irresponsible for anyone to discourage others who need help, especially adolescents and young adults.  It is tough enough for them to deal with fear, stigma, and the labyrinth of mental health care systems.  For them to break through such barriers only to have someone discourage them should outrage all of us.

In recent months there have been at least two cases of this irresponsibility.  In one, a journalist covering the issue of withdrawals from campus due to mental health issues, an admittedly complex process, allowed the following title to be used in a Huffington Post article: “Using College Mental Health Services Can Lead To Students Getting Removed From Campus”.  In another an attorney allowed the following title in a Chronicle of Higher Education piece concerning the alleged mismanagement of therapy records in a rape case: “Raped on Campus? Don’t Trust Your College to Do the Right Thing”, and then added further damage by stating “Students: Don’t go to your college counseling center to seek therapy.”

It is not that the authors had no point to make.  I do not take issue with advocates calling attention to allegations that there may be problems in the application of procedures on some campuses.  But making sweeping condemnations of an entire field in a large country goes well beyond that.  The number of cases mentioned in articles or blog posts like these is typically very small, as it was in these articles.  This, friends, is what you call over-generalization.  There are over 1,000 college counseling centers in the United States providing millions of therapy sessions annually and they, I dare say, do so competently and with good results.  OK, so the ethics of blogging may be loose indeed, fine.  But these authors are advising potentially millions of our youth to avoid the most convenient, least costly, most specialized services for the college student population.  Doing so is patently absurd, hurtful, and wrong.

Sometimes, actual college counselors are quoted in the articles, but generally very few.  Even rarer are articles written by someone who actually does the work.  Say what you will about attorneys and journalists, but the fact is they do not know, and cannot know, the work from the inside.  They are not managing extremely challenging circumstances while being intimately knowledgeable about and adhering to our specific professional codes of ethics.

Students, listen to those who do the work.  Use your campus counseling service.

What’s the Best Way to Get Rid of Depression?

Depression can take a terrible toll on an individual and can affect any one, regardless of sex, race or social situation. There are a variety of ways that you can relieve your own depression and lift away the dark metaphorical storm clouds that seem to hang over you.

The First Step Begins with You

The first step to ridding yourself of depression is to look within yourself, permeate the inner workings of your mind and thought process to try and re-evaluate and change the way that you think. If you think you are all alone, that you simply do not matter in the world then take steps to dismiss those detrimental thoughts which are no doubt main contributors to your depression.

Positive affirmation can rid you of such self-loathing thoughts. Remind your self of the positive things in your life and the people who do care and most of all care about your self. Depressing thoughts make for a depressed person, so rid your self of such thoughts and think positively. You may just find a new happier attitude coming about and you will no longer be depressed.

The Second Step Begins with the People around You

Now if your depression is not due to your own harmful way of thinking and instead is caused by outside influences such as another person, then you must take a good hard look at the way that particular person affects you emotionally. Do they put you down? Do they have the power to make your mood incredibly glum?

If so then you must no longer allow there verbal abuse to batter down your self esteem, instead you should distance your yourself from this person or persons or take a direct approach and tell them that they are hindering your overall ability to be a happy person. Never be a doormat for someone, stand up for your self. Confidence often breeds a happier person.

The Third Step Begins with Learning to Relax

If your every day life is so incredibly hectic, that it has put an emotional strain on you and has pulled you into a pit of perpetual depression then you must climb your way out of that pit. You should take extra steps to relax yourself, maybe lay in a bubble bath and try to dedicate some quiet time just for your self. Stress rarely promotes a happier person. You must take measures to make sure that you can lessen the stress in your life as much as possible so the clouds will clear away and you can be happy person that you used to be.

The Fourth Step Begins with Escapism

If you find you cannot simply change the way you think then keep those depressing thoughts at bay with a distraction. Escape into a book or movie, something happy and whimsical that will turn your mind towards other things such as your own depression.

The Fifth and Final Step Begins with What You Put in Your Body

Believe it or not, what you eat may have a lot to do with your mood. Foods high in toxins can leave you feeling physically and emotionally bad. So a healthier diet can be the key to a happier you. Choose foods that nourish your body and mind, not ones that will clutter it up with useless toxins that are healthy and affect your overall mood.

You Have the Power

In conclusion you have the power to defeat depression through a healthy diet, positive thinking, less stress in your life, a more assertive attitude and a means of escape once and a while.

If you feel that you need more help than this, please consult with your physician.

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