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Being Optimistic Has Some Serious Health Benefits

Optimism

You’re either a glass half full or half empty kind of person. Few of us want to be grouped with the latter – there are few things less warming than someone who can’t see the bright side in anything. Aside from being more pleasant to be around, being an optimist has some impressive health benefits. 

Back in 2009, a study by the University of Pittsburgh found that optimists were less likely to get ill, while in 2013 researchers at Concordia University found that those with a positive approach were better at dealing with stressful situations. “On days where they experience higher than average stress, that’s when we see that the pessimists’ stress response is much elevated, and they have trouble bringing their cortisol levels back down. Optimists, by contrast, were protected in these circumstances,” Joelle Jobin, the co-author of the study told Science Daily at the time.

A more recent study by Boston University went one step further and found that an optimistic outlook can improve your chances of living longer. The study surveyed 69,744 women over 10 years and 1,429 men over 30 years to measure their levels of optimism, as well as their overall health and lifestyle habits, including whether their smoked or drank alcohol.

“Previous studies reported that more optimistic individuals are less likely to suffer from chronic diseases and die prematurely,” says Lewina O. Lee, clinical research psychologist at Boston University. “Our results further suggest that optimism is specifically related to 11 to 15% longer life span, on average, and to greater odds of achieving “exceptional longevity,” that is, living to the age of 85 or beyond.”

How can you be more optimistic?

Keep a journal: In a world where few of us have a minute to collect our thoughts, the idea of writing them down feels like a luxury. However, taking five minutes out before you go to bed to write down a couple of things you’re most grateful for in that moment can help reset your mind, and it can also help you sleep. 

Search for solutions: The office pessimist is never more obvious than when you’re in a crisis meeting looking for a way around the issue. Stewing on a problem often makes it feel bigger than it is and can exacerbate negative feelings. Where and when possible it is good to switch from being problem-focused to solution-focused. 

Focus on the improvement: It’s easy to set ambitious goals and lose enthusiasm halfway through when you haven’t reached them. However, there is that popular saying: ‘your speed doesn’t matter – forward is forward’. Try focusing on how far you have come rather than how far you have to go. Making small mindset tweaks can ultimately change your overall approach.

Look after your gut: Plenty of studies have linked our gut with our nervous systems. Making sure the bacteria in your gut is well-balanced and thriving can have a surprising impact on your mood. Life Extension noted this and formulated Florassist Mood, a probiotic that contains the two strains of bacteria that help improve our mood, Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum. 

Build up a sweat: Whether it’s a run in the park or a brisk walk, it’s worth getting your heart rate up as when we exercise our body releases endorphins, which help boost our mood. Recent research has also suggested that those who spend more time surrounded by nature also tend to be happier and more positive, so perhaps it’s time we all started or ended the day with a stroll in the park?

We’re Hitting Peak Age Later Than You Think

peak-age

Even if you’re not a tennis fan it’s likely you will have heard about the men’s final match at Wimbledon this year. Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic battled it out for the men’s title and made history not only for the length of the match – it lasted for almost five hours and is the longest men’s final in Wimbledon’s history – but also as it was the first time a tiebreak at 12-12 had happened. While Djokovic won the match and took the title at Wimbledon for the fifth time, Federer received a lot of attention and praise for his stamina. Read More…

Can A Full Moon Really Affect Your Health?

full moon

Whether you’re someone who reads their horoscopes every week religiously or you dismiss them as vague captions that could be interpreted in hundreds of ways, there can be no denying that astrology is becoming increasingly popular. With a full moon on 14th September, you can expect plenty of full moon rituals and astrological predictions to fill your newsfeeds. For those who don’t keep up-to-date with the position of the moon, we’re in the midst of Virgo season and the full moon, also known as the Harvest Moon, falls in the sign of Pisces this month. According to astrologers, it’s the time to refine your organisational skills and put plans into action.  

While you could write this off as gobbledygook, it might interest you that the scientific world has been exploring how the lunar cycle affects our health for years. Admittedly the studies have been small and few and far between, but there is enough to continue the research and attempt to separate the science from the folklore. 

Are menstrual and lunar cycles linked?

With both moon and menstrual cycles lasting around 28 days, it’s easy to see why the two have been linked in the past. ‘Mooning’ is still a term used by some when they’re on their period and there are apps that will track your menstrual cycle along side the moon’s. A tiny study in 2005 found that women who ovulated during the full moon and fell pregnant at this time were more likely to have sons. However, the concept of aligning your menstrual cycle with the moon’s is tricky as lifestyle, genetics and hormones play key roles. 

Can a full moon affect our mood?

For years there have been whisperings of the full moon altering people’s moods. A three-month psychological study of 1,200 inmates at Armley jail in Leeds in 1998 found that the number of violent incidents spiked during the days either side of a full moon.

Ten years ago a study monitored the amount of patients admitted to the Psychiatric Emergency Care Centre at Calvary Mater Newcastle in Australia. Out of the 91 patients with violent and acute behavioural disturbance, 21 occurred during the full moon, which equated to twice as many compared to other lunar phases. Two year prior to this, the police force in Brighton employed extra officers during full moons after they carried out research which found there was a rise in violent incidents.

Before you get carried away and start to fret about your mood dipping and anger levels rising this weekend, it’s important to note that all of these studies were very small and more recent research by the Eastern Ontario Research Institute ruled out any impact on behaviour. The study focused on the effects a full moon had on the behaviour and sleep patterns of 5812 children from five continents over the course of two months and concluded that it had no impact on the former.  

“Our study provides compelling evidence that the moon does not seem to influence people’s behavior,”  said the study leader, Dr. Jean-Philippe Chaput. The only significant finding was the 1% sleep alteration in full moon.”

What about our sleep patterns?

Dr Chaput isn’t alone in his findings. The most credible study on sleep and lunar phases took place in 2013 and suggested that the amount of deep sleep we get each night can drop by around 30 percent at the time of a full moon. According to the University of Basel in 2013, not only does it take five minutes longer to drift off, but we can lose up to 20 minutes of sleep a night. Interestingly, the study ruled out the effect of light causing the sleep disruption by asking participants to sleep in a windowless room. They did note a drop in melatonin levels around the time of a full moon, which would explain why you might find it harder to fall asleep but not why to dip in levels occurs. 

However, at least come the next full moon you can ensure you don’t miss any sleep by incorporating Cherry Night by Viridian into your evening routine. Cherries can help top-up your melatonin levels and help you to drift off regardless of the position of the moon.

PHB Ethical Beauty: What You Need To Know

PHB Ethical Beauty

‘Clean beauty’ isn’t a phrase that many people like because it is very vague in its definition. We are willing to go out on a limb and hazard a guess that PHB Ethical Beauty is a brand that most people would consider ‘clean’. It’s natural, organic, vegan-friendly, Halal certified, the majority of its packaging is recyclable and the brand donates 20% of its net profit to charity. Read More…

Can An App Really Improve Your Focus?

Focus App

Breaking news alerts, social media and messaging apps are usually the vices that subconsciously have us checking our phones two, three, four, sometimes five times an hour. Last year, we spent over three and a half hours on our phones on average every day. Most of us are reliant on them for getting us from A to B, dividing restaurant bills and keeping us in touch with the office. For some, the low battery warning or loss of signal can send anxiety levels spiralling. Read More…