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Travel is Medicine for Your Mental Health

Do you know the difference between hard work and overwork? For most professionals, the answer is likely ‘no’. While this New York Times article helps explain the difference, even those who know they are overworking may not know a way out of the trap our professions can put us in.

Pressure put on us because of financial and professional expectations can be overwhelming, and the consequences of this work-related stress can have irreparable health effects. So, if you have vacation days, take them. They serve as the best way to improve your health by escaping the negative effects of overwork, even if it is only temporary.

Work and Health: An Often Negative Relationship

We would all love to have a career that truly mirrors our passions. For most, this is not possible. Even if we are doing what we are good at, or something we truly love, finding the perfect job can be near-impossible. For this reason, most of us face stress related to work that can seem an unshakeable burden.

The Huffington Post explains how the nature of many jobs – even ones not considered to be overly stressful – can have serious health consequences. Sitting, a seemingly unavoidable part of most white collar jobs, puts serious strain on our cardiovascular health. The Mayo Clinic adds how work-related stress can diminish our mental and physical well-being. Those who work jobs that are computer-dependent develop computer vision syndrome (CVS), at a clip of 64% to 90%, according to U.S. National Institute of Health.

All of this is to say, wasting your vacation days means further endangering your health. We arguably take years off of our life just from working, and turning down our vacation days adds to these already unavoidable work-related problems.

The Flipside: How Travel Benefits Your Mental and Physical Health

Travel days aren’t just must-takes because work is boring. Travel can actually provide health benefits that begin to take effect before you even step aboard a plane. That’s right, the anticipation of a trip alone can provide an elevated mood and decreased stress.

Express Travel Clinic breaks down the health benefits of travel into four fairly basic categories:

1) improved happiness

2) reduced anxiety, stress, and depression

3) improved physical health

and

4) an overall healthier mind

Regardless of your current physical and mental fitness, it is difficult to argue that we could not all use more of these travel-related boosts in our lives. This is especially true for those who are in recovery from addiction. Vacation can provide an opportunity for new perspective on life, self-reflection and healing, and the chance to experience activities that could fill the void formerly occupied by your addiction.

Anybody who travels should consider whether or not they want to bring their pet – typically dogs – and this is true of those in recovery, too. The companionship can help provide a sense of responsibility and stave off the urge to return to former habits; they’re a wonderfully rewarding.

Traveling is good for us, there are no two ways about it. Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, you name it. The stress we feel from work – especially overwork – can cause irreparable health consequences, both physically and mentally. So, if you have travel days, take advantage of them. And if you don’t, you should at least consider a job that has a more reasonable approach toward your well-being.


Henry Moore is the co-creator of FitWellTraveler. The site blends two of his favorite subjects (travel and health) to provide readers with information about how to get the most out of both.

Sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21480937

wellness-coach

Caring for the Caregiver

In honor of all of the caregivers who unselfishly give your time, care, and energy, I want to encourage you to take time for yourselves. I know from experience that this idea of “self-time” may seem to be only a dream. You may arise early in the morning, go to bed late at night, and wake up throughout the night to care for your loved one. Where is the time for yourself?

However, when you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t have the energy or patience to care for others. Lack of exercise, lack of sleep, stress, and poor diet will only leave you feeling run down. So how can you find that precious time without adding more hours to your day?

First of all, don’t think you have to get to the gym or commit a large amount of time. This may leave you feeling more stressed, especially when circumstances don’t allow it. Instead, start small and change your thinking. Can you find 10 minutes to take a walk around the block? Can you do exercises in your living room while watching TV?

Here are six ideas to find time to take care of yourself throughout the day:

1. Take a 5-10 minute walk around the block. Do this once, twice, or three times a day. Set a reminder on your phone or calendar, but be flexible with the time. If circumstances prevent you from getting out at 8:00, don’t skip it. Move it to a different time.

2. Print a list of simple exercises that you can do and place it on your coffee table. Do exercises while watching TV or while your loved one is sleeping. Leave a pair of dumbbells or a resistance band next to the sofa to get a quick workout. March in place during commercials, perform 10 sit to stands or squats and 10 wall or sofa pushups every 15 minutes during the program you are watching.

man doing yoga at home with eye closed3. Take 5-10 minutes to do stretches, deep breathing, meditation, or yoga before you go to bed at night. Just a short amount of time will help to reduce tension in the muscles and relax the mind and body.

4. Sign up for sites such as Caring Bridge or Meal Train. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help. Whether it’s an encouraging word or a meal a few nights a week, these sites will allow others to take some of the burden off of you. Learn more at www.caringbridge.org and www.mealtrain.com.

5. Plan your meals for the week on the weekend. Make a grocery list with needed ingredients for each meal, shop, and cook the foods that can be prepared ahead of time. Meals do not have to be complicated. For example, cook brown rice on Sunday and refrigerate. Tuesday night, heat the rice, add a can of drained black beans, salsa, and a little shredded cheese. Serve with warmed tortillas for a quick, easy, and healthy meal.

6. Join a local support group or an online support group. Being with others who are going through a similar situation can create a supportive network of friends. If a local support group isn’t available, check out www.caregiveraction.org for online support. There is help and encouragement available. You give unselfishly of your time and energy. Reach out and allow others to help you.


Kris Pritchett Cameron has dedicated over 20 years to the health and fitness of others.  She has built a career on not just “working out” clients, but by helping individuals find the keys they need to unlock a healthier lifestyle. She is the owner of ReNu Your Life Fitness and Neuro Wellness in Coralville, Iowa.

Stern-Anxiety-article

Wow! That Anxiety Looks Good on You!

To my dear friend in the locker room, you know who you are:

Thank you for being so honest. Your honesty brought up a topic that many people might have already touched on or made themselves aware of, but yesterday I saw another “twist.” Here is how it started:

There is a woman whom I have known for a while, first as a co-worker at the gym/my work and now as a devoted and loyal member of the gym. She has a full-time job and a little boy. On the days that I show up to work at 10:30am, she is always there in the locker room getting ready for work after she has finished her workout or fitness class. We are both running around at that point, but we smile or wave to each other, or sometimes not. Yesterday I came in at 10:30 and she was dressed and ready to leave. I smiled at her but had to do a double take. She was wearing a cute sleeveless top and her body looked soooo strong and fit. Her arms were toned with amazing muscle and the definition in her muscle looked great. I turned to her again and told her how strong and fit she looked, and that I always notice that she is there all the time and working very hard in the gym and it shows. She turned to me and said, “Thank you so much but let me tell you, I do this way more for my mental and emotional health than to look a certain way.”

And I just looked at her and said, “Isn’t that the truth??? I just went through the weekend with a massive amount of anxiety. There was not a specific reason for the anxiety, I have had it my whole life and some days it is worse than others. I remember being in the car and on the way to the gym thinking that I couldn’t get there fast enough. I knew that the only way for me to snap out of this and not let it ruin my weekend was to go to the gym and workout or go outside and jump rope. For me, putting on my music and moving my body is my form of escape, release, meditation, whatever you want to call it. This also forces me to BREATHE deeply, which I think has more benefits to our minds than we can ever know. And just being in my own head space with my music, my movement and my breathing is what releases at least 50% of my anxiety. The workouts help me release some of the negative chaos in my head and body.”

We had a good laugh at this because we both agreed that we find the “calm” we need through our workouts, and how awesome is it that the benefit of the chaos in our head looks great on our bodies! I actually said that out loud and it stopped me in my tracks. If we take a positive spin on anxiety, depression, anger, sadness, etc. and instead of looking at all the negative effects it has on our life, we can “twist” that statement to say, what are the benefits to having some of these issues? I have always needed to release my anxiety through exercise in order to get through the day, I now have added a tag line to that: My anxiety has shaped my body and has made me strong. The glass is now half full.


Deborah Stern has a degree in psychology/nutrition from DePaul University in Chicago, IL. She has been dedicated to helping women, men and children of all ages and all fitness levels in improving their lives through exercise, nutrition and personal growth.  Deborah started early in life  on this journey for herself and has been taking her clients on the journey for the past 25 years. Visit her website at foodprintforlife.com, and her blog at debapproved.blogspot.com.