• Good Mood Food - (read more)

    What we eat has an impact on our mood. It can either lift our mood and raise endorphins (feel good hormones) or do the opposite and raise stress levels.

    According to Patrick Holford these are the common nutritional imbalances that are known to worsen your mood and motivation:

    1.    Blood sugar imbalances (Associated with excessive stimulant and sugar intake)
    2.    Lack of B  Vitamin (Folate, B12)
    3.    Lack of essential fats (Omega
    4.    Lack of amino acids that are precursors to Serotonin and Noradrenalin

    To feel happier we should choose those foods that correct or prevent the above imbalances.
    Here are five foods that I call

    good mood food

    and simple ways that you can incorporate them into your daily meals:

    1. Those rich in omega 3 fatty acids (found in seeds, avocado and oily fish such as fresh tuna, salmon, mackerel).
      Happy tip Eat oily fish at least twice a week and sprinkle seeds (sunflower or pumpkin) on your cereal, stir-fries and salads.
    2. Green veggies such as spinach and broccoli – these are rich in Folate which helps maintain normal levels of mood-boosting serotonin.
      Happy tip Add them to salads, stews, or have them as a side steamed. Get creative and use them in green smoothies/ juice.
    3. Nuts- Walnuts and almonds are the healthiest of all nuts. They contain the B group of vitamins, magnesium, zinc and omega oils that help to keep cortisol (a stress hormone) levels low. Also, they are a good source of energy, balance out sugar cravings and they aid metabolism.
      Happy tip Stick to a handful a day that you can sprinkle on salads, cereal or pair with a fruit as a snack.
    4. Fruits –   Bananas offer serious mood-lifting power, with their combination of vitamins B6, A, and C; fiber; tryptophan; potassium; iron; protein; and healthy carbohydrates. This combination gives you a mood and energy boost without the blood sugar spike.Blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries contain nutrients that help reduce stress and depression.Happy tip Eat them as a snack or add them to smoothies, cereals.
    5. Reduce sugar and stimulants (caffeinated drinks and smoking).

    Happy Tip: Swop with green  tea or chamomile tea.

    As Hippocrates the father of medicine said:

    “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”

    So how about making a few changes to your diet and see what happens to your mood.

    Take care and remember to keep on creating a life of joy that you are meant to be living right now…

    Dr G Chiba

  • Spark Your Brain - (read more)

    We have all heard about the benefits of

    exercise

    in preventing heart disease, stroke cancer etc.

    Did you know that in recent years, studies have shown that regular physical activity also has benefits for mental health?

    Exercise can help people with depression and anxiety by:

    1. Its mood enhancing effect in the short term,
    2. Alleviating long term depression,
    3. Preventing relapse of depression
    4. Helping to quit smoking
    5. Buffering the brains ability to handle future stressors
    6. Improving sleep
    7. Improving energy
    8. Boosting self esteem

    As little as 20 minutes of aerobic exercise per day, has shown to have mood enhancing properties.

    So here’s my challenge to you:

    Start with 10 minutes of exercise and increase at your own rate, to 30 minutes per day.

    Here are a few tips to get going:

    1. Choose activities that you enjoy, such as :

    Biking, Dancing, Gardening, Golf (walking instead of using the cart), Jogging at a moderate pace, Low-impact aerobics, Tennis, Swimming, Walking, or Yoga

    1. Decide whether you would like to go solo, do it in a group or with a friend.
    2. Schedule it into your daily routine, e.g. every morning after brushing your teeth, on your way to work (cycle, walk), on your way home after work.
    3. Add music
    4. Have FUN

     “Physical activity sparks biological changes in the brain that have a positive impact on the entire range of depressive symptoms”

    This is according to Dr. John Ratey, Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and author of SPARK, The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. (Suggested reading)

    So go ahead, give your brain a spark …

    brain

    Take care and remember to keep on creating a life of joy that you are meant to be living right now…  J

    Dr G Chiba

  • Sweet Dreams - (read more)

    This week we are going to talk about

    SLEEP   zzz…

    Most of us at some point in our lives have been either unable to fall asleep or to remain asleep long enough to feel rested. This could be due to psychological stressors or illnesses either medical or psychiatric such as Depression, Anxiety, Mood disorders etc. Insomnia can also be a disorder in its own right

    There is a wealth of research indicating that people with insomnia have poorer overall health, more work absenteeism and a higher incidence of depression. If we get a good night’s sleep we are able to function better the next day, we get sick less often and our moods are regulated.

    Sleep needs vary amongst individuals depending on their age and lifestyle factors such as work schedules and stress. On average adults require between 7-9 hours of sleep.

    Regardless of what’s causing your sleep problems, it is important to establish and maintain healthy sleep habits. Here are some tips that will help you sleep well:

    Before bed time:

    1. Stick to the same bedtime and wake up time, even on the weekends.

    This helps to regulate your body’s clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.

    2. Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual.

    A relaxing, routine activity right before bedtime conducted away from bright lights helps separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety.

    3. Evaluate your room.

    Design your sleep environment to establish the conditions you need for sleep. Your bedroom should be cool. Your bedroom should also be free from any noise that can disturb your sleep. Finally, your bedroom should be free from any light. Check your room for noises or other distractions. This includes a bed partner’s sleep disruptions such as snoring. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, “white noise” machines, humidifiers, fans and other devices.

    4. Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.

    Make sure your mattress is comfortable and supportive. Have comfortable pillows and make the room attractive and inviting for sleep.

    5. Use bright light to help manage your “circadian rhythms.”

    Avoid bright light in the evening and expose yourself to sunlight in the morning.

    6. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and heavy meals in the evening.

    Alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine can disrupt sleep. Eating big or spicy meals can cause discomfort from indigestion that can make it hard to sleep. It is good to finish eating at least 2-3 hours before bedtime.

    7. Wind down. Your body needs time to shift into sleep mode, so spend the last hour before bed doing a calming activity such as reading.

    For some people, using an electronic device such as a laptop can make it hard to fall asleep, because the particular type of light emanating from the screens of these devices is activating to the brain.

    8. If you can’t sleep, go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel tired.

    It is best to take work materials, computers and televisions out of the sleeping environment. Use your bed only for sleep and sex to strengthen the association between bed and sleep. If you associate a particular activity or item with anxiety about sleeping, omit it from your bedtime routine.

    During the day:

    1. Avoid napping, especially in the afternoon.

    A power nap may help you get through the day, but if you find that you can’t fall asleep at bedtime, eliminating even short catnaps may help.

    2. Exercise daily.

    Vigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise is better than no activity.

    If you’re still having trouble sleeping, don’t hesitate to speak with your doctor or find a sleep professional.

    Another resource is the SADAG Sanofi Aventis Sleep Line that you can call on 0800 753 379.

    So what is the one thing that you can change this week to ensure you that you have sweet dreams?

    Take care and sweet dreams…

    Dr G Chiba

  • Why we should take Mental Breaks - (read more)

    With the long weekend approaching most of us are feeling pretty grateful for the short break that we will be taking from work. After the December holidays, the Easter weekend is usually the first opportunity in the year for us to

    stop working and take a rest.

    Why is it so important for us to take breaks such as these?

    1. We tend to work non-stop, whether it be at home or in our jobs. There seems to be little or no time set aside to relax. We see taking a break as a waste of time and feel pressured to keep working and achieving.
    2. Just as our muscles can get tired, so can our brains. Mental congestion is a real thing according to a Scientific American article and it affects us all. Our brains need downtime to process, sort and organize the massive amount of information that many of us take in every day. Mental breaks allow us to be more productive, improve our attention, solidify memory and encourage creativity.
    3. Taking a break also allows us to interrupt our usual work routine, and gives us time to reflect on where we are in our lives in the present moment. This gives us a different perspective and often allows us to feel gratitude for the beauty in our lives. Often a natural joy arises.

    So how can you make the most out of the Easter weekend and the long weekends to come? Here are a few tips to get the rest and rejuvenation that you might need and which you truly deserve:

    1. Pause, which means to stop the doing and to just be present in the moment. Once you do this you might notice things that you were not aware of previously. Such as the crisp refreshing autumn air, the way the leaves are turning golden and falling right now. You might start noticing your loved ones and be better able to be with them. You might start noticing your body, and its sensations and feelings. This leads us to the second tip…
    2. Listen to your body, honour what it says to you, and use its message, whether they are signals of tiredness or sadness or gladness, as a guiding post. . Use it as an invitation to rest, relax, rejuvenate, re inspire old passions, and discover new ones. Use it to do things that you truly enjoy.
    3. Set yourself a few ground rules for the weekend. Eliminate the activities or things prevent you from resting. You might have to turn off your computer, emails or social media. Downtime isn’t wasting time. It’s truly important to your continued productivity and happiness.
    4. Go outside– fresh air, sunlight, nature, the beautiful South African weather are all natural, free mood boosters.
    5. Lastly use this time as an opportunity to use your discoveries about yourself to get back to an old hobby or to recommit to spending time doing the things that you truly value in your life. And then commit to taking these learning’s into your daily life.

    So my challenge to you is to use the above strategies, especially the last one, to find 3 ways to take the ‘vacation’ into your daily life once you get back to work. Examples would be scheduling time to take a lunch break at work, stopping work every hour for at least 5 minutes to get some fresh air, scheduling family time on the weekends, be creative… and have FUN.

    Let me know how it goes …

    Enjoy the upcoming long weekend.

    Take care and remember to keep on creating a life of joy that you are meant to be living right now…

    Dr G Chiba