All posts tagged 'stress'

7 Common Causes of Chronic Headaches

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Chances are, you've interacted with more than one person today who's suffering from a headache. There are likely a number of people reading this post right now who have a headache. That's because millions of Americans suffer from mild-to-intense headaches. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 20 people in the developed world suffer from chronic headaches on a daily basis.

For those who have more days per month with a headache than without, life starts to feel like an endurance test more than anything else. Between the pain, the throbbing and the pounding, folks with chronic headaches will begin to have difficulty concentrating. This lack of focus can prove quite dangerous, especially if your job puts you in hazardous situations.

If your headaches began all of a sudden and have lasted for three months or longer, you may be experiencing what experts refer to as New Daily Persistent Headaches (NDPH). Such head pain may grow or slack off in intensity, but they are constant. There are medications to provide relief for such round-the-clock headaches, as well as relaxation techniques and biofeedback which have had some success in treating NDPH's.

Do you or someone you know have chronic headaches? Here are seven common causes, along with some idea about how to remedy such triggers.

1. Medications
Some prescription medications may have the potential to trigger a headache. It may not be just one medication causing the problem, but rather an interaction between prescriptions or even over-the-counter medications. If you've recently switched up your prescription routine, and seen a corresponding increase in headaches, please consult with your doctor.

2. Stress & Anxiety
Stress can take a toll on you, and it's a common cause of tension headaches. If you can avoid stressful situations, great. If not, learning to cope with stress and be more chill could really help. If you're unfamiliar with breathing exercises, just Google it! They're easy to find online and take very little time and effort to yield results. Breathing and relaxation exercises may ease anxiety in stressful situations and prevent possible headaches. Just remember to breathe, relax and maybe take a stroll if your present environment is causing you undue stress.

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3. Auditory & Visual Causes
Loud, repetitive sounds can definitely lead to bad headaches ... just ask anyone who has lived nearby a construction site. But it's not just super-loud sounds, even low levels of continuous noise can trigger head pain. Calming music playing over noise-cancelling headphones may help. Brightness from your computer screen, sunlight or overhead lights can ramp up the pain. Turning down your screen brightness, or simply switching your devices to night-mode, could make a significant difference.

4. Hormonal Changes
The sad truth is that women are more likely to suffer from chronic headaches than men. When estrogen levels drop, especially right before a period, you may be more likely to develop a headache. Keep track of your cycle in a journal or diary. By analyzing the data, you may be better able to plan for future headaches. We recommend that you share your diary with your doctor, especially if the patterns indicate a correlation between your cycle and chronic headaches.

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5. Poor Posture
Believe it or not, but your parents were right. Maintaining good posture can have a noticeable effect on your health. This is no laughing matter, especially for those of us who spend a lot of time looking down at our phones (text neck, it's a thing). Whether you're in your office chair or on your couch at home, sit up straight and raise your device to eye level to keep your blood flowing. Be sure to get up and move around every so often, especially if you spend hours hunched over your desk. Just as it is important to be aware of your posture during the day, you should also be mindful of your body position when you sleep. Don’t sleep in an strangely contorted position - especially in a cold room – as this can lead to painful muscle spasms. No one enjoys waking up in excrutiating pain, especially if you're already sleep-deprived, so take this suggestion to heart!

6. Too Little or Too Much Exercise
Since Ancient Greek times, thinkers and philosophers have cautioned us with variations on the phrase, "moderation in all things." Both physical over-exertion and not getting sufficient exercise can increase your risk for headaches. If you're leading a mostly sedentary life now and plan to begin an exercise routine, just be sure to start things off slow at the gym. Pushing too hard can result in an exertion headache from the swelling of blood vessels in your head, neck and scalp. To avoid such a scenarios, talk to your doctor before beginning or revising any exercise regimen.

7. Poor Nutrition
Food and drink release neurotransmitters, which can cause headaches in some people. Such triggers include aspartame, caffeinated beverages, chocolate, alcohol (especially red wine), cheese and others. Skipping meals or eating junk foods can deprive your body of sorely needed nutrition. Doctors recommend focusing on a healthy balanced diet, with a good mixture of slow-release energy foods (taken in small, evenly spaced meals) and limiting your intake of refined sugars. To ensure that you're getting all of the nourishment you need, we encourage you to check out our selection of premium health supplements. Each innovative product was carefully formulated with registered dietitian, healthy cooking expert and author Keri Glassman, founder and president of Keri Glassman, Nutritious Life.

Word of caution ... if you have eliminated all of these potential causes as the trigger of your head pain, be aware that there are other serious causes that can lead to a sudden headache. You should make an appointment with your doctor right away. GP's may order imaging tests - such as an MRI or a CT scan - to rule out more serious conditions that require immediate treatment.

Have you discovered a way to overcome your chronic headaches? We're interested to learn how. Please leave your helpful tips in the comments section below!

3 Tips to Thrive this Holiday

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The kids are back in school and settled into a routine. Everything seems to be moving along smoothly and then BOO! ... Halloween happens and we’re in full holiday mode. In what seems like a split second, you’re planning, shopping and cooking. And by the time the parties roll around, you’re exhausted. How can you make it through the emotional roller coaster of the holiday season, avoid emotional eating and eat healthfully throughout? Try using these using these three simple steps to not only survive the holiday season, but to thrive!

1. Stay in the Moment

Yes, you could choose to go through the holidays focusing on feeling guilty for not remembering to buy your co-worker a gift, being sleep deprived because you’ve been burning the candle at both ends trying to get everything done before your vacation, stressing because the holiday cards haven’t arrived . . . and so on and so on. But you could also choose to get through the holidays mindfully. Making the choice to celebrate the company you keep, being positively in the moment and giving attention to your holiday traditions. This will keep you from feeling stressed, overwhelmed and reaching for the soothing arms of that hot cocoa with a big pile of whipped cream.

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Healthy Holiday Tip: Keep a warm mug of tea on hand at all times. It will serve many purposes. The heat and smell will soothe and relax you and your feelings, it will hydrate you, and it will serve as a reminder to keep your wellness on the forefront of your mind.

2. Stay in Control

Use the three D’s when feel out of control or are worried about emotionally eating. The first D is for delay. Slow yourself down. Don’t head straight for the food. Start with a glass of water, tea or seltzer and make a conscious decision to slow your intake. Nobody is going to rip your plate out from under you and the appetizer tray will still be there in 15 minutes. So ... slow down. The second D is for distract. You should be catching up with friends and family. That’s what the holiday season is really about. Distract yourself from emotional eating by talking to the people you care about or lending a hand to the host. The final D is for disarm. Don’t keep unwanted food in the house or place unwanted foods as far away from yourself as humanly possible. And, when at parties, don’t hover over the buffet table. These simple steps will help you stay in control.

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Healthy Holiday Tip: Going to a potluck holiday dinner? Take control and bring healthy dish you can eat so you’re not stuck with only greasy vegetable-less eats in case that’s the only foods offered. Before you head out to the office party, eat a satisfying and healthy dinner so you don’t wind up making puff pastries your meal.

3. Socialize at Parties
Focus on the fact that you’re at a party. With PEOPLE who you (hopefully!) enjoy being around. It’s not all about the food. Concentrate on talking to and reconnecting with family, friends, and coworkers. When you make an effort to socialize, you’ll not only enjoy the night a lot more, but you’ll also be too preoccupied to think about that pecan pie every 2.2 seconds.

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Healthy Holiday Tip: Be wary of “food pushers”. These are those people who refuse to take “no” for an answer when offering unhealthy treats. My advice? Keep saying no, as many times as you have to. And don’t feel bad! Or, why not say “You know, you should have another bite of this fruit cake. I know how much you love it and it’s the holidays, so you deserve to splurge!”

Use these three simple tips, add a little moderation and a whole lot of love and you’ll get through the holiday season feeling better than when you started!

Keri Keri Glassman, MS.RD.CDN

Infographic: 5 Ways Cats Improve Your Life

If you're lucky enough to share your life with a cat, you'll know that regardless of personality, felines make life better. Whether they're low-key couch potatoes or frenetic, live-out-loud adventurers, it really doesn't matter. Each kitty finds a way to bring happiness and companionship. But that's not all! They add a fullness of experience to life, in five amazing ways which we've outlined in the following infographic!

To view the full-size PDF, simply click on the image below. And be sure to share this post with your cat-loving friends and family ... or better yet, those who still need convincing!

PDF Document
PDF Document

Understanding and Managing Stress

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Stress affects everything. Yes, everything. There really isn’t one area of your “world”, body or life that isn’t impacted by stress. Your reactions to stress control everything from your breath to your hormones.

The immediate reactions to stress are what we think of as “fight or flight” responses. Upon experiencing a stressful situation, hormones are released that constrict your blood vessels and raise your blood pressure. Eventually, your hormone levels return to normal and your heart rate is regulated. This is healthy, normal, and fine! However, prolonged, chronic stress can lead to health complications including high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

The hormones released when we’re stressed include adrenaline, corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) and cortisol. While the first two work quickly in the body to give instant energy (which initially reduces hunger), cortisol hangs around in the body longer.

So while an immediate response to acute stress can be a temporary loss of appetite, prolonged chronic stress that goes unmanaged can be tied to an increase in appetite and craving (carbohydrates specifically), and in turn cause you to store fat specifically around the midsection.

Stress causes many problems because it increases free radicals (bad guy compounds that cause a whole lot of problems). The production of free radicals is what is known as oxidative stress. Though the presence of some free radicals is normal, prolonged oxidative stress causes chronic inflammation. This in turn can cause significant damage to your cells, and complications such as, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer and diabetes as well as arthritis, IBS and Crohn's Disease.

Stressful situations themselves are unavoidable, and sometimes a little stress can be a good thing. But there are ways to prevent elevated responses and manage the stress in your life. We hear it all the time that we should take time to relax, de-stress and unwind, but this concept is so much easier said than done. Taking control of being a less-stressed person is something you can work on in only a few minutes a day – you don’t have to go for a massage or book a spa weekend. Try the following quick stress busters:

  • If you have 15 minutes: read a chapter or two in a book.
  • If you only have 5-10 minutes: sit quietly with a cup of tea.
  • If you can only manage 30 seconds: rub aromatherapy lotion on your hands.

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Yes, you can lower your stress by getting a massage or doing a little pampering, but you can also prevent elevated responses to stress from happening in the first place by practicing meditation, getting enough sleep, exercising, and, yes, eating foods that are linked to mood-boosting, calming benefits.

Oatmeal, leafy greens, celery, cashew, avocado, grass fed beef, and even dark chocolate can have a positive effect on reducing your stress symptoms. Some foods, like oatmeal, spinach, and dark chocolate, have the ability to regulate serotonin, which is the feel-good, mood-boosting and mood-stabilizing hormone. Others, like grass-fed beef and peppers are sources of vitamin C, which has been shown to lower levels of cortisol in the body and reduce the physical and psychological effects of stress.

Perhaps the simplest thing you can do to fortify your health is to supplement your diet with Minerals & Antioxidants blend. The boost of antioxidants helps to fight damaging free radicals. Think of antioxidants as the good guys that fight the bad guy free rads. Not only that, but when mixed and consumed with water, you’re contributing to your hydration to boot. What could be simpler?

Keri Keri Glassman MS.RD.CDN