Are “Smart” Headbands The Newest Stress-Relieving Technology Of The Future?

If you’re an avid headband wearer who also happens to love the newest innovative technology, this just might be the product for you. Speaking with BBC News, USA Bobsled/Skeleton team member Emma Baumert has taken to wearing a smart headband that measures brainwaves.

The headband, called FocusCalm, is a neurofeedback or EEG (electroencephalography) device. According to FocusCalm, the headband’s sensors pick up electrical pulses from your brain, which are then compared to an AI (artificial intelligence) model that shows the user their mental state.

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Through the use of an app, FocusCalm offers the user the opportunity to build a routine while also improving their mental state thanks to games that are intended to engage the user’s brain in order to increase productivity and calmness.

Max Newlon, president of BrainCo., the firm behind FocusCalm, explained to BBC that the headband’s AI monitors 1,250 “data points” in the user’s detected brainwaves. A user score between 0 to 100 is then given, with 50 being the typical score as their website states.

While some may be skeptical of how well FocusCalm actually functions, Baumert— who became a part-time researcher for BrainCo. due to her education and sports-heavy background— vouched for the headband’s usefulness when it comes to improving a person’s overall state of mind and being.

“I got to visualize and learn how to have better control, and what training I need to do to get into a more relaxed state, while still being able to have very high explosive power output.”

A device like FocusCalm isn’t exactly new or exclusive, as other companies have taken a crack at neurofeedback technology. Muse and Cove work similarly to FocusCalm, using apps to deliver brain activity results and exercises to the user. Unlike FocusCalm, both respective products emphasize their ability as a sleep-aid.

Of course, not everyone is on board with the brain-reading headband. U.K. psychologist Dr. Naomi Murphy told BBC that EEG devices can have negative consequences, such as changing a person’s view on their brain activity after use.

“While some people find measurements useful or reinforcing, many are attracted to ‘neuro-tech’ because they identify with a vulnerability, an anxiety about their performance, and the use of data can exacerbate this.”

Additionally, others question how AI can successfully implement itself in meditation practices that have existed for well over 1,000 years, and advocate that you shouldn’t need to compare your mental results to others.

The going price for one of these headbands is almost $200. That also doesn’t include the app membership, which costs $149 for a lifetime account. While you may not be having stress following a purchase, your wallet might. If you’re out of that price range, don’t fret— there are other, less-costly methods that can help you break away from your anxiety-filled days.

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Calm, an app that has received critical praise and was named an Editor’s Choice on the App Store, helps to bring users less anxiety through breathing and stretching exercises. Calm also promotes better, more relaxing sleep through music and bed-time stories told by well-known stars. Calm is also free, although it does contain in-app purchases.

If technology isn’t appealing, there are simple, classic ways of stress relief that you could do, even while reading this. From simple, 5-minute yoga techniques to taking a morning or afternoon walk or run, stopping to give yourself personal time, even for a brief period, could do your mental health good in the long-term.

Of course, don’t let anything stop you if you have the burning desire to give FocusCalm a go. You’ll be able to try out some fascinating hardware while also giving yourself a head start on a sci-fi costume for Halloween.

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How To Manage And Relieve Your Stress During A Pandemic

Amid the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, it’s no surprise that we’re all feeling a lot more stressed than usual. On top of working from home, taking care of our families/loved ones, and having to worry about an infectious virus that spreads easily, there seems to be no time to just take a minute and breathe. However, now that we’re all home for an indefinite amount of time, there’s never been a better time to practice effective ways of managing and relieving your stress levels. 

When we’re more aware of how stressed we become throughout the day, it’s much easier to figure out ways to combat those feelings and recognize them before it builds up into an overwhelming cloud of anxiety. Make a note of what things are triggering a stressful response in you everyday, and then try to work on those specific areas. While this can be as specific as receiving an email from one particular coworker who never gets anything done, there are a multitude of general ways to help separate ourselves from the situation and calm down. 

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Getting exercise or at least some sort of movement in everyday life is a requirement for being quarantined. Even if it just means going outside and walking a few laps in your backyard, it’s essential that you’re at least stepping outside, breathing in some fresh air, and stretching out your muscles and bones everyday. 

It can be so easy to get wrapped into binge marathons on Netflix, especially now, but we can’t get too comfortable with making that a habit. The more you’re sitting around and just watching mindless TV shows or movies, the more likely it is you’re going to put off the things you have to do which will only lead to even more stress being added onto your already full plate. 

Learn how to create boundaries between your work and personal life. This is imperative for those who are currently working remotely. It can be challenging to turn your work brain off and casual at-home brain on when you’re just home all the time. This is why it’s recommended that you set up your remote working station in an area of your home that’s as separated from the rooms that are known for inducing relaxation (such as the living or bedroom). 

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Another easy way of separating your work and personal life at home is to make sure you’re filling your personal time with activities that you want to and enjoy doing. This could include cooking, gardening, knitting, reading, and anything else that you consider relaxing. By filling your free time with things you want to do, and your work time with the things you have to do,  it’s easier for your brain to make that distinction, even if you are just moving from room to room everyday. 

Make sure you’re staying hydrated as well. Getting enough water everyday is obviously imperative for your physical health, but it also is for your mental health. According to Amanda Carlson, the director of performance at Athlete’s Performance, “studies have shown that being just half a liter dehydrated can increase your cortisol [stress hormone] levels. The National Academy of Medicine recommends that you drink one milliliter of water per each calorie of food consumed.”

Make lists of all your daily, weekly, and monthly goals. It’s easier to break down what you have to do for work, your family, and yourself when you have the general guideline in front of you. Daily duties can include things like returning emails, making phone calls, baking a cake for your brother’s birthday, etc. Weekly duties can include more generalized things such as going to the grocery store, ordering more dog food online, and basically anything else that isn’t an immediate need but should get done within a matter of days. Finally, monthly goals can more so pertain to you personally and how you’d like to see yourself grow in the near future, which includes managing your stress. This list can include things such as starting to exercise at least twice a week, or learning how to cook a new dish every week, etc. Have fun and be creative! This is your own personal list of goals, so make it personal. 

Finally, and arguable most importantly, you have to make sure you’re getting enough sleep every night. Not getting enough sleep is one of the number one causes of stress, as we all know, when we’re tired, we’re a lot more irritable, which makes it so much easier for us to get stressed out. The Sleep Foundation recommends getting between 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Try going to bed at the same time every night and turning off all your screens at least one hour before bed. This will start getting your body into a proper sleep schedule and can help ensure that once you’re asleep, you’ll stay asleep until the morning.

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Healthy Lifestyle Choices To Boost Your Immune System

Coronavirus is causing a lot of panic among individuals worldwide. While it is of the utmost importance that you contact your health provider anytime you feel like you may be showing symptoms, there are things you can be doing in your everyday life to make sure your immune system is running to the best of its ability. 

Besides the recommended social distancing and working from home policies that our governments are implementing, positive immune responses to our lifestyle choices can be essential to staying healthy. First and foremost, making sure that you’re getting enough sleep every night is always one of the most important things you can do for your health. Without sufficient sleep, your body makes fewer proteins called cytokines. According to a study performed by the Sleep Foundation, cytokines target infections and inflammation within our bodies, they’re also produced and released during our sleep cycles. 

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One of the other most important aspects of our lives that greatly affects our immune systems is our diet. Excessive amounts of sugars and fats can cause gut imbalances that result in autoimmune problems and digestive issues. Ensuring that you are eating a good amount of probiotics daily will also guarantee that your gut has more good bacteria in it than bod. The bacteria in your gut is responsible for breaking down and destroying any foreign bodies that don’t belong in your digestive system. 

Speaking of digesting and diet, intermittent fasting has been taking over the world as of late, and it actually can help reset your immune systems. 

“Fasting for three days (having nothing but water) could essentially reset the immune system. Holding off on eating for at least 16-18 hours after your last meal allows your body’s attention to become “focused on the current immune cells, recycling them and getting rid of the damaged cells. This means that during the fast, your body is running lean and mean with its white blood cells,” said Dr. Valter Longo of the University of Southern California.

It’s important to note that any sort of fasting does also pose major risks, and it should only be done if you’re already healthy. 

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Mental health can also take its toll on our bodies immune responses, especially in terms of stress. During a worldwide pandemic where there’s constant updates on the severity of our planet’s situation, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Make sure you’re taking time everyday to disconnect from the digital world and do something productive that doesn’t involve electronics, such as cooking, cleaning, organizing your photo collection, etc. 

Stress has also been proven to cause inflammatory responses within the body, which can leave you more vulnerable for catching any sort of illness. Mindful practices such as meditation, yoga, and positive affirmations all greatly reduce stress and allow you to focus on your breathing and ability to remain present. 

Stress also depletes your bodies natural production and absorption of the vitamins we intake daily, so consider taking some supplements to help further boost your immune responses. Vitamins C, B, and D, as well as zinc all greatly support your immune system and prevent infections and inflammatory responses within the body. Taking these daily gives your body the extra kick it needs to remain healthy. 

Pay attention to the news enough so you know what’s going on and what new law policies are being passed for the time being, but be sure to disconnect from it all and take a minute to just be with yourself. Eat healthy, get plenty of vitamins, and of course, keep yourself as hydrated as possible before settling in for a night of peaceful sleep.

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Is Mindfulness An Established Part Of Our Lifestyle?

As we approach the end of the first month of 2020, it’s normal to reflect upon how many of our new year’s resolutions have survived or slowly faded out. How many of our goals were essentially revolved around becoming happier and healthier? Can an overall objective of mindfulness help to fulfill them all?

In the last few years we have seen the area of mindfulness move away from a scorned and outlandish notion, to a legitimate health practice. As mental health slowly shakes its taboo and the desire for a more fulfilled and present lifestyle takes center stage, many turn to mindfulness. Practices such as meditation are used as a reprieve from the fast-paced pressures of day-to-day life in modern society. More and more people are openly admitting that they meditate and seeking out a different approach to life.

The roots of many mindfulness practices can be credited back to Buddhism, and many meditation teachers refer to these teachings in their practices. Some, like Andy Puddicome, co-founder of the meditation app Headspace, having come directly from practicing Buddhism for a decade.

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Mindfulness itself has evolved and moved into the modern realm, making itself available and easily accessed by the average person. Rather than approaching monasteries for teachings of a calmer mind; articles, videos, books, and apps are available at your fingertips. Many argue that the growing trend of mindfulness practices are a result of the chaotic and overwhelming digital society that we live in. It is a little ironic therefore that a popular solution is the growing use of digital mindfulness apps. Learning mindful meditation from the comfort and privacy of your own home is an inexpensive and easy solution. Especially in the case of these apps, as a focus on ten-minute sessions or less are designed to easily slot into your lifestyle.

Last year the mindfulness market was estimated to be worth $1.2 billion (according to and it’s still growing; it’s estimated to be worth over $2 billion by 2022. There are over 1000 meditation apps available with Headspace, Calm and Buddify among the market leaders. From sleep exercises to breathing techniques, to mindfulness guides and meditation practices, it has never been easier to practice mindfulness.

The trend isn’t just in these apps, it is not uncommon to see more and more people turn to these practices as alternate health solutions. Doctors themselves are beginning to recommend mindful practices as part of a healthy lifestyle. Mindfulness retreats, classes, studios and training in the workplace are all becoming the norm. In January 2019, Vox reported that mindful activities such as Yoga and Meditation had tripled in the US between 2012-2017 and has since not shown signs of slowing down. You don’t have to go far to find a Yoga class or meditation workshop. Carving out sections of your busy schedule to slow down and focus on this sort of self-care is said to have tremendous benefits.

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Anecdotal evidence may indicate that many of your friends, colleagues and acquaintances are embracing these techniques and showing signs of happier and healthier lifestyles. Can we argue that mindfulness is now an established part of society and not just a trend? Have you considered it yet?

So what are the benefits of mindfulness practices? Said to profit both mental and physical well-being, practicing to keep a calmer mind can alleviate mental states of anxiety, depression and stress. More surprisingly perhaps, researchers have begun to find that it can also help to relieve physical conditions such as chronic pain, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal conditions such as IBS, and even treat heart disease. Even without mental and physical health problems, mindfulness and meditation is a way of re-wiring the brain to become, among other benefits, a happier, calmer, kinder and more patient person.

Despite the booming economic market of mindfulness practices, especially meditation, mindfulness doesn’t need to be an expensive practice, but it does take practice. One of the main aspects of mindfulness and meditation is the notion of being present. Many techniques aim to help refine this ability, from mindfully eating to walking to meditating, all of which requires a focus on the body. Whether that is concentrating on a small morsel of food and recognizing taste, texture, and bodily reaction as you take your time to chew; or sitting down and meditating, in which you attempt to clear your mind, focus on the breath and the feeling of your body and allow wandering thoughts to come and go without judgement.

The practice of mindfulness has been hugely beneficial to many people and its shrinking taboo and growing availability has made the area easier to access. Consider seeing if your year could be improved by a clearer, calmer and happier mind.

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Genetically-Modified Trees May Be The Key to Reducing Climate Change

In what represents a potential breakthrough in scientific approaches to reducing the impact of climate change, scientists have created genetically-modified trees that do not emit a gas that contributes to poor air quality and global warming, without harming the health of the trees. Poplar trees give off isoprene, particularly when they are under stress like they would be during rapid changes in temperature or during a drought. Isoprene interacts with other substances to form ozone and types of aerosol, which have negative consequences on weather patterns. As poplar trees are widely used to create products like paper and plywood, and are also used as biofuel, the widespread adoption of genetically-modified poplar trees may enable a more environmentally-friendly method of producing these vital resources.

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According to the study, which was published in the journal PNAS, researchers observed the genetically-modified trees, which were planted in Oregon and Arizona, for a period of three to four years and concluded that they were capable of producing just as much biofuel as normal poplar trees, but without releasing harmful isoprene. Instead, the trees generated “alternative signaling pathways that appear to compensate for the loss of stress tolerance due to isoprene,” according to the lead author Russell Monson, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona. The researchers believe that neither the health of the trees nor the quantity of biomass produced were negatively affected by the genetic modification, giving hope that in the future, trees could be optimized to better suit the needs of a global climate that has been modified by human activity. As biofuel derived from poplar trees can replace traditional fossil fuels in a sustainable way, these new findings could pave the way for transitioning to a more carbon-neutral future.

The trees’ genetic code was modified by a process called “RNA interference.” In this process, specific genes are targeted and suppressed; in this case, the genes that are responsible for the production of isoprene are disabled. Multiple technologies exist in order to modify the genetic code of living organisms, including CRISPR, a newer technology that allows for even more drastic and precise genetic modification. In fact, traditional breeding of species, which humans have done for thousands of years, is itself a form of genetic modification, though it is a much slower and less precise way of altering the genetic makeup of an organism.

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When it comes to technologies that help to reduce the impact of climate change, the widespread planting of trees is often proposed as a method of mitigating carbon emissions, as trees use natural processes to store carbon and produce oxygen. However, planting a tremendous number of trees poses its own problems to ecosystems and the global climate, as not all of the gases released by trees benefit the environment. This is of particular concern given the advancement of technologies designed to autonomously plant large quantities of trees at a rate much greater than is possible with human labor, which is currently being deployed as a strategy for geo-engineering. As such, the future of harm reduction in connection with climate change may depend upon a combination of natural resources and cutting-edge technologies, as scientists of the future may be able to genetically optimize trees to maximize their beneficial impact on the environment. That being said, other strategies in addition to planting genetically-modified trees will surely be necessary in the fight against climate change, as carbon emissions continue to rise to increasingly-dangerous levels with no signs of stopping any time soon.


Reduce Your Fear Of Flying With Some Cute Therapy Animals at Airports

Travel to many people is a gateway to the rest of the world. The opportunity to explore new places, meet new people and try new experiences. To meet up with family and friends, conduct business or even part of a commute for some workers.

And with the holiday season fast approaching it’s easy to get caught up in the mad dash at the departure gate, or bustled through security meaning stress levels can increase significantly.

There are also some passengers who find travel so traumatic that they need medication just to get on the flight.

But there is another way!

Many airports are turning to therapy animals who can not only be a comfort within the stress of an airport but can also put anxious children at ease thanks to a spot of petting the animal. Although most airports have employed therapy dogs there are also some airports who use other animals such as miniature horses. Or pigs.

Meet LiLou, who is not just an ordinary pig; she’s a therapy pig, and wants to help travelers have a more relaxing experience.

The ‘Wag Brigade’ is a program the San Francisco International Airport has set up to help ease the anxieties some passengers may have, enabling them to get on their flights without popping pills or having that extra drink.

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Owner Tatyana Danilova brings the five year old Juliana pig to the airport not only dressed in a pilots cap but also with bright red toenails.

Lilou then heads to airport security, passes through the metal detectors – never needing to be searched – and makes her way to the departure gates where she loves to entertain the passengers with selfies or by playing a tune on her toy piano. She also greets everyone with a raised hoof to make sure you notice her.

Danilova explains, “People are very happy to get distracted from the travel, from their routines, whether they’re flying on their journey for vacation or work. Everybody is usually very happy and it makes them pause for a second and smile and be like, ‘oh, it’s great’.”

Many airports around the world have ways to help passengers have a more relaxing flight but pigs are not one of the most popular, though LiLou has become a firm favourite at the airport.

And to make sure she keeps healthy she lives on a diet of protein pellets and organic vegetables in her apartment in downtown San Francisco that she shares with Danilova. She also has her own bed and keeps in shape by heading out to explore the neighbourhood each day, taking in the sights and again, meeting new people.

However LiLou is still a prey animal so it is important not to approach her from behind as she can react so if you do have the pleasure in meeting her make sure you say hello to her face!

Back at the airport a young girl from California is ecstatic to meet LiLou and watches in amazement as she plays her a tune on her piano — she uses her snout and hooves to create a good melody — and enjoys taking a few selfies together.

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Although the airport has many dogs of different shapes, sizes and breeds in the Wag Brigade, Guest Services Manager Jennifer Kazarian confirms that LiLou is the world’s first airport therapy pig, which she says has helped the airport build a feel good community spirit.

Jennifer said, “When we first launched the program, our main goal was to relieve stress for our passengers. However, what we have found is we have formed a connection with our passengers and it’s been totally amazing.”

There are not many requirements that the therapy animals need to take part in the training program. However, the San Francisco SPCA confirms they must have good manners, a stable temperament and a friendly personality. They must also be house-trained so that there are no incidents that could embarrass the animal, something that LiLou can agree would not be fun!

And if a therapy pig isn’t quite what you have in mind to ease your flying anxieties maybe a cat is? Stitches is 11 years old and has been helping ease passengers at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport since she started her new position this month.

The first therapy cat to join the 96 Animal Ambassador program, Stitches gets wheeled around in her stroller complete with a ‘pet me’ sign on top. She even has business cards available which her owner Nikki Christopher hands out after she receives a good neck scratch, Stitches that is!

Many animals work for several years training to be a therapy pet and Stitches is no different. She worked with the North Star Therapy Animals program for three years before joining the airport and is now happy to be pushed around Terminal 1 and the entrance of Concourse C.

If you are lucky enough to see one of the therapy animals – or even LiLou or Stitches – make sure you stop and say hello.


Donald Trump Visits Hospital Under Unusual Circumstances

It’s not uncommon for presidents to keep information about their health secret from the public. Famously, Franklin D. Roosevelt suffered a severe polio attack at the age of 39, leading to paralysis in both legs, which he hid with crutches and steel braces, and John F. Kennedy, despite projecting an image of youth and vitality, suffered from Addison’s disease, an incurable disorder of the adrenal glands. Though current president Donald Trump has made public the results of his yearly physicals, the veracity of these reports is dubious, as his administration is infamous for distorting or outright fabricating information. Concerns about the president’s health escalated on Saturday after President Trump made an unscheduled visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, where he stayed for roughly two hours.

According to White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, the President “[took] advantage of a free weekend here in Washington, D.C., to begin portions of his routine annual physical exam at Walter Reed.” Additionally, the president tweeted about the visit, claiming that he took the opportunity to “[visit] a great family of a young man under major surgery at the amazing Walter Reed Medical Center,” and that he “began phase one of [his] yearly physical.” He added that “everything [was] very good.” Though the president does not smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol, he weighs 243 pounds and has a BMI of 30.4, making him medically obese. Additionally, he suffers from high cholesterol, for which he takes rosuvastatin. He also has heart disease, likely caused by his unhealthy lifestyle habits. Despite these problems, White House physician Ronny Jackson characterized Trump as being in “excellent health.”

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There are a number of reasons to be skeptical of the official account of Trump’s health. At 73 years old, Trump is the oldest president ever to take office, and outside of golfing, he does not exercise. The president’s diet consists in large part of fast food, ice cream, and steak, which are his favorite foods, and he is undoubtedly under a tremendous amount of stress, resulting not only from the ordinary stressors of occupying the office of the presidency, but also from being the subject of an ongoing impeachment inquiry as well as the potential for being held accountable for crimes committed while in office. All of these factors increase one’s risk of heart attack or stroke, and some outlets report that the president was experiencing  chest pain in advance of his unscheduled hospital visit. Though these reports have not been verified by major media outlets, it’s not hard to believe that the president suffered a cardiovascular event of some sort, given the circumstances of his health.

While Press Secretary Grisham claimed that the visit was part of his physical, the president’s previous physicals were scheduled in advance and were conducted by medical staff working in the White House. The claim that Trump underwent “phase one” of his physical is also suspicious, as yearly physicals are not generally conducted in phases. The president has no public events scheduled for today, Monday November 18th, even though a public event would make for an opportunity to dispel rumors about the president’s poor health. While Grisham pointed to the president’s “repeated vigorous rally performances in front of thousands of Americans several times a week” as evidence of his good health, these rallies generally involve the president speaking while leaning against a podium, which is not a particularly physically-demanding task. Furthermore, a source told CNN that a hospital visit like the one Trump had on Saturday is “not protocol.”

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Donald Trump is not the only 2020 presidential hopeful to have suffered health issues. The three highest-polling Democratic presidential candidates, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders, are all in their 70’s and experience a tremendous amount of stress from the demands of campaigning. Last month, Sanders was hospitalized as a result of a heart attack, for which he received surgery to install two stents in his heart. Additionally, Joe Biden appeared to bleed from his eye during a CNN town hall event in September, though this was attributed to a burst blood vessel caused by a poorly-fitting contact lens.


Workaholics at Risk From Being ‘Overstressed’

Stress can have significant effects on your body, both physical and psychological. With more and more people leading stressful lives, the occurrence of long term stress has increased dramatically with one third of people reported to be suffering from stress at least one day per week. Identifying the signs that you’re overstressed can be difficult, especially when you’re constantly busy with work and the demands of everyday life. If you can identify the early signs and symptoms it can make combating the problem much easier, allowing you to get back to being yourself.

You always seem to be ill

Being ill regularly can indicate problems with stress. Although most people associate being ill with the weather, the sickness bug going around at work or perhaps an inherently weak immune system, illness can in fact have much more complicated causes. Stress can trigger illness as your body’s capability to develop white blood cells decreases, therefore making you ill more often as you are less able to fight off infections. 

How is it possible to link stress with regular illnesses? Take the time to remember when you were last ill. Where there any stressful situations going on in your life simultaneously such as a work deadline or an upcoming exam? Connecting the dots can help you tackle stress and reduce the impact it has on your body. Seeking professional advice can also help you deal with the problem as they can give you the best advice and treatment. Furthermore, it is essential that you are maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle, ensuring that your immune system is well equipped to deal with any bouts of illness that do occur.

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Everything irritates you

Another sign stress may be taking over is when you start to feel irritated by everything around you. A colleague may ask you to help with a certain task and you find yourself sighing and getting annoyed at them. It feels like everything around you is constantly going wrong and the world never seems to be on your side. 

A lot of people have no idea that they are being rude to the people around them, often causing irritation and rifts in their relationships. Being stressed and overwhelmed can mean we don’t have the capacity to consider the feelings of others around us, leaving them hurt and confused. Seeking professional advice in this situation can be extremely effective so you can go back to being yourself and prevent stress from affecting your quality of life.

You’re constantly thinking about work

A major sign that work is stressing you out is when you cannot stop thinking about it! Even though you leave the office at 5, your mind is constantly occupied with work related worries and tasks you need to complete before a certain date. Work is on your mind during dinner, when you’re trying to relax and fall asleep, and even when you’re talking to other people. Taking a step back and leaving work at the door is extremely hard for many people, causing intense stress.

Keeping yourself healthy by staying hydrated, following a nutritious diet, maintaining a healthy sleeping and exercise pattern will help you tackle stress head-on when it does hit.

You can’t focus on anything

Whilst many people cannot focus on anything but work, many find it extremely difficult to focus on anything at all when they’re stressed. Failing to make progress or even get started on that task or deadline you’ve been putting off is a sign that you may be overwhelmed. Instead of being able to focus and complete a task, you fret too much about all the other things you have to do and worry about not being able to complete those tasks to a good enough standard. You become trapped in a vicious cycle as tasks pile up around you.

Those who suffer from anxiety are all too familiar with this cycle, however beginning to refocus your concentration on what you need to accomplish is never impossible. There is lots of advice available both online and from professionals that can help you to get you life back on track.

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You’ve got eczema or inflamed skin 

Stress can also trigger problematic skin conditions such as eczema or inflammation. This is a result of your body being put through stressful events especially if you already suffer from chronic dry skin or eczema. Anxiety can also trigger flare ups and may lead to more stress, intensifying the issue. 

Seeking advice and treatments from doctors is a good place to start when tackling this issue whilst following a healthy diet and moisturizing your skin regularly can also help the situation. Removing products from your regime that you think might be causing the problem to worsen can also help lessen the symptoms. Many people also find that certain foods such as dairy and wheat can intensify breakouts, keeping your skin clear and further stress at bay. 

Everyone combats stress in different ways. Keeping an open mind to other people’s symptoms and struggles that may differ from yours is a major step towards acceptance. Keeping yourself healthy by staying hydrated, following a nutritious diet, maintaining a healthy sleeping and exercise pattern will help you tackle stress head-on when it does hit. Listen to your body, take care of it and address issues when they arise. Beating stress is never impossible and doing so will lead to a happier life.

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25% Of People Feel Stressed After Returning From Vacation

New research by mobile travel app Vamoos has revealed that 1 in 4 people feel as stressed after returning from vacation as they did before they left.

Research conducted on over 1,000 travelers who go on luxury, educational and/or adventurous trips revealed that 24% felt stressed after returning home from vacation, which is only 1% less than the number of people who feel stressed right before leaving. Further insights from the report indicated that women were likely to be more stressed than their male counterparts, both before their vacation (30% vs 20%) and just after (27% vs 20%). 

Whilst it has long been accepted that people feel stressed when booking or preparing for their vacation, less consideration has been given to how people feel when they return, often coming back to pressures at work, a mountain of emails and a never-ending to-do list. This is in addition to other factors such as getting children back into school or bedtime routines. Interestingly, only 5% of the 61 travel companies also interviewed as part of the research knew that their clients felt stressed after their vacation.

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“This new research would suggest that many people returning to work apparently ‘refreshed’ after their vacation, may be experiencing similar levels of stress as they were prior to leaving. More worryingly, they could either be suffering in silence or find their stress is disregarded as a simple case of the post-vacation blues,” explains Tony Bean, Director at Vamoos.

As global awareness on the importance of mental health continues to gain momentum, Tony suggests that more needs to be done to help people to settle back into daily life after they return from vacation. This includes both employers and travel companies. 

“Holiday companies have already started to address pre-vacation stress by providing checklists, handy reminders and apps to help their customers feel more in control prior to departure. What is needed now is a greater understanding and empathy for them after they return, perhaps better preparing them for those initial feelings of stress that they are likely to experience, along with some positive ideas for their next vacation to allow them to focus on their next exciting adventure,” adds Tony.

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If you have returned from a dream vacation and are feeling the tension rising, don’t fear! Here are a number of ways to tackle post-vacation stress:

PLAN BEFORE YOU LEAVE –  Sometimes the run up to clocking off from work can mean you leave many tasks incomplete, particularly those that can easily wait until you return. Trouble is that you’ll come back to an ever bigger mess than you left, which won’t help with the stress levels. Making sure you have planned the work for your return means that you are more likely to feel in control and on top of the situation. It’s always worth seeing what work can be delegated while you are away to further lessen the burden on day one!

EAT THE FROG – Don’t worry you don’t actually have to ‘eat’ a frog! There is a well known saying in the time management world to ‘eat your frog’ in the morning; this essentially means do the worst tasks first rather than putting them off until last, as this will help you to stop procrastinating and be more productive for the rest of the day. If facing a mountain of emails on your return to work fills you with dread, suck it up, grab a coffee and get down to it. You’ll feel so much better once it is done and able to focus on the day ahead.

EASE YOURSELF IN SLOWLY – After a wonderfully relaxing vacation, your mind is unlikely to be going at its usual lightening speed. Don’t expect it to just switch back on now you’re at work, it’ll take a little time to warm up. Try to avoid overloading yourself with back to back meetings, status updates and client calls on your first day back. Book them in over a series of days to ensure you don’t become too overwhelmed as you readjust to working life. 

DON’T BE ASHAMED OF VACATION TIME – Many people find themselves over-compensating for their time away, working excessively long hours prior to going, checking emails or responding to queries on holiday, or putting in extra shifts on their return to catch up or make up for the time they were away. Rest and recuperation is an essential part of working life and if necessary to retain mental and physical health. Enjoy it, be thankful for it, and don’t apologize for it; you deserve it!