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Your Brain Needs Water

In order for our brains to function optimally we need to ensure we stay hydrated.  Brain cells need water (amongst other things) to operate or they will quickly lose efficiency when the balance is lost. 

Drinking water is not just about quenching thirst.  Studies have shown that dehydration can actually cause the brain to shrink, linking to declining memory, difficulty thinking clearly and doing complex tasks (like a crossword). 

The good news is, having a glass of water quickly brings the brain back to normal. Other studies have shown that students who drink water before an exam can do up to three times better than those who had none.  

Water could also be the answer to those who wake up grumpy. On a typical night’s sleep, there’s up to 10 hours without water.  We sweat and breathe out moisture and therefore can be dehydrated when we wake , which can affect mood.  

If you want to be on top of your game or avoid that afternoon slump, try water to maximise your thinking, focus and mood.

6 signs you could be dehydrated:

  1. You’re tired
  2. You’re hungry
  3. You have a headache
  4. Your skin is dry
  5. You feel hot
  6. You’re grumpy

Our guideline is 30ml of water for every Kg of body weight (eg 30ml x 56kg=1,680ml or rounded to 2 litres water).

We are lucky we live in a part of the world that has access to clean water.  It’s something to be grateful for.  Consider donating to a charity such as https://thewaterproject.org/give-water to help those struggling without water.

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Make Stress Your Friend

Our lives are busy juggling work, finances, marriage, kids, family, friends – the list goes on. We are constantly hearing from health experts that stress is bad for us and that we need to be less stressed which, ironically, often makes us feel more stressed. This is making us sick and people are even dying from stress-related diseases.

What if it’s not the stress that’s killing us, but instead it’s our responses and  perception of stress that’s killing us? Research is showing that it’s in our body’s natural mechanism to cope with stress, and our reaction and belief around whether stress is a good or bad thing, that is the most harmful to our health.

A popular TED talk by Kelly McGonigal, a Health Psychologist,  “How to make stress your friend” is about approaching stress as helpful rather than being the enemy.

She based her talk on a study of 30,000 people in the US over eight years.  They were asked questions such as “How much stress have you experienced in the past year?” and “Do you believe that stress is harmful for your health?”.  Interestingly, those who expressed a great deal of stress but didn’t view it as a harmful experience had the lowest risk of dying, whereas those who said they had experienced a lot of stress and viewed it as harmful had a 43 percent increased risk of dying.

McGonigal says if change our mindset and view our responses to stress as helpful to our performance, we will be less stressed out, less anxious, more confident. That pounding heart? It’s preparing you for action. Your increased breathing rate? It’s simply getting more oxygen to your brain. Your body will naturally manage the stress response and calm the nervous system down, as long as you don’t allow yourself to get worked up over a stressful situation.

There’s even a term for ‘good’ stress – Eustress, pronounced YOU-stress. It is the type of stress we feel when we are out of our comfort zones, but working towards something bigger or feel excited or challenged in a good way. Eustress provides us with an energy boost to perform challenging activities – especially where we need to focus and put in extra effort. So, what if you were to consider all stress as Eustress? There’s no difference between Eustress and Distress, other than our reaction to it.

As you can see, how you think about stress matters. The next time you are stressed, stop, take a deep breath and say to yourself “This is my body, rising to the challenge.”

Watch the full Ted Talks here: https://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend

 

 

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Move Snacks

Most of us think we need to sweat it out at the gym or go for a long run to be active and if we miss those opportunities due to our busy lives, we beat ourselves up.  What counts as exercise has been institutionalised to the point that if it’s not a dedicated chunk of time in a dedicated place, it doesn’t count. There are a lot of ‘should’s’ going on – I should exercise, I should go to the gym.  It’s these ‘should’s’ that can set us up to fail, over and over again.  Sound familiar?

At Ritualize, we  want to challenge the notion of what being active is and change how we view exercise.

What’s important is you find something you enjoy, not something you ‘should’ be doing.  The research is showing that if you enjoy your choice of activity, you are more likely to stick with the healthy behaviour over the long-term.  

A great way to rewire your brain around what counts as exercise is to discover what we call Movement Snacks.  If you don’t like exercise or are simply too busy to get to a gym class, you will be surprised how active you can be throughout the day.  Some suggested Movement Snacks are:

  • Housework (it counts!)
  • Meet for a coffee and a walk rather than sit in a cafe
  • 30 second on the stop sprint
  • Gardening
  • Running around with the kids
  • Squat while brushing your teeth
  • Have a walking meeting rather than in a boardroom
  • Walk while you talk on the phone
  • Park the car in the furthest car park from the shops
  • Ritualize ZUU workout at home

Of course, if you love your gym classes or your runs, keep doing it. I love to run because it makes me feel good, but if you are someone who doesn’t like it, don’t do it.  Choose something you actually enjoy.

I love this approach to how we think about physical activity because it allows those who think they are not active to discover they either are or they can be.

Think about what Movement Snacks can be incorporated  into your daily life and make them count.

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Binge-watching before bedtime…

Are you guilty of it?

Since the introduction of streaming companies, such as Netflix and Stan, the era of scheduled programming has seemingly come to an end. Everyone can watch the content they like when they like. This unprecedented access has introduced a new viewing style: Binge Watching. Binge watching is defined as “watching multiple consecutive episodes of the same television show in one sitting on a screen, be it a television, laptop, computer or tablet.”

Prior research has indicated that media bingeing was associated with more anxiety, depression, and fatigue. Binge viewers also reported higher levels of loneliness and depression. In more recent studies, conducted by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, it was reported that binge-watchers had more fatigue, insomnia symptoms, poorer sleep quality, and feeling more alert before going to sleep. Those who binge-watch before bed had 98% more chance of having poor-quality sleep than those who didn’t.

Looking at bright screens, especially at night, can wreak havoc on your biology, because it is one of the cues that helps maintain our circadian rhythm, or body clock. When it gets dark, our bodies start to prepare for sleep, but bright lights can trick our brains into thinking it’s still daytime and it reduces our ability to secrete melatonin, which makes it not only harder to fall asleep, but also reduces the amount of sleep you get once you do fall asleep.

While we don’t expect you to stop watching shows, there is a way to help combat the binge-watching addiction. Dr Robert Oexman, a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, says the best way to do it is on the weekend, and earlier in the day instead of the late evenings. Ideally, binge-watching should occur before 6 pm, and if that’s not possible, you should at least stop watching shows an hour before you start getting ready for bed.

For more tips and information on how to help improve your quality of sleep, check out our Ritualize app!

 

References:

https://www.google.com.au/amp/variety.com/2017/digital/news/binge-watching-health-risks-netlfix-1202447516/amp/

http://jcsm.aasm.org/viewabstract.aspx?pid=31062

https://www.businessinsider.com.au/tv-binge-watching-can-damage-your-health-2017-9

 

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