How do I increase my willpower?

So, you’ve finally accepted that you need to make some changes in your life. You’re spending too much time watching TV when you should be working or studying, and you have a few bad habits that are affecting your health and wellbeing such as drinking too much alcohol and eating too many take-aways. You’re motivated to make changes… but do you have the willpower to follow through and achieve your goals?

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Do you have high cholesterol?

Our bodies need cholesterol to function properly, but not too much. The waxy, pale yellow fat is found in our blood, and is crucial to the production of cell membranes, vitamin D, hormones (including testosterone and oestrogen), and fat-dissolving bile acids.

Unfortunately, around half the adult population in most developed countries do have too much cholesterol, usually as a consequence of consuming excessive amounts of saturated fat in the form of meat, dairy, and processed foods such as pies, burgers, cakes, and ready meals.

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Do you have a Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder?

Sleep should be a natural human activity, done without thought and without difficulty. However, many people have problems with their sleep patterns that affect their overall wellbeing and their ability to function effectively during the day. Scientists are beginning to study these problems closely to determine ways to correct them, and this is leading to increased interest in circadian rhythms.

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What is gambling addiction?

Like many problems, gambling addiction (also known as pathological gambling, compulsive gambling or gambling disorder) may result from a combination of biological, genetic and environmental factors, and can affect people from all walks of life.

What starts as an occasional leisure-time activity, or a way to solve their problems by turning what little money they have into a larger sum… gambling can soon become an unhealthy obsession for some people.

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Is Buddhism a religion?

To many, Buddhism goes beyond religion and is more of a philosophy, or way of life that focuses on personal spiritual development. Buddhists strive for a deep insight into the true nature of life, and do not worship gods or deities.

Who was Buddha?

Siddhartha Gautama was the founder of Buddhism. He was born in the north-eastern part of India into the family of the chief of the Shakya clan in Lumbini (now in Nepal), sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE (around 2,500 years ago). At the time of his birth, several scholars predicted he would become a great king or holy man.

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What makes us happy?

Everybody wants to be happy, and research into what makes individuals and communities thrive has grown in popularity in recent years. One such report, called the Harvard Happiness Study, is one of many that highlights the importance of having a broad range of social connections to family, friends and the community for a happy, healthy life. However, relationships can be tricky, and sometimes we need to work on our own personal development in order to build those relationships successfully. So here’s my list of ten key skills, that in my experience, will help us to be happy.

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How much time are you wasting?

If you’re reading this blog post, there’s a good chance that you’re not actually accomplishing as much each day/week as you’d like to, and that you’ve begun to suspect a good chunk of your time is being wasted.

I doubt there are many people who, as they look back on their lives, wish they had spent more time watching TV or cute kitten videos on Facebook. But there are probably an awful lot who, with hindsight, wish they’d watched less, and achieved more! Effective time management is about knowing what’s important to you. What would you rather do: work towards your life goals, or spend all night binge watching House of Cards? The more focused and self-disciplined you are, the more likely that you can (eventually) do both.

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What is motivation?

Motivation is the force that initiates, guides, and maintains our goal-oriented behaviours. It’s what prompts us to take action; whether it’s to climb a mountain, enrol in university, or save for our retirement. Understanding what motivates us to make the choices we make, big and small, day in, day out, can provide important insight, and significantly improve our chances of a happy, satisfying, and successful life.

Theories of motivation

Researchers have developed a number of theories to explain how motivation works, and three of the earliest and probably best known are Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Herzberg’s Motivation/Hygiene theory, and Victor Vroom’s Expectancy theory.

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10 vitamins & minerals to strengthen our immune system

Our immune system is our first line of defence against infections and other external and internal attacks, and is made up of three distinct layers, which are deployed depending on the nature of the threat:

  • Physical barriers: e.g. skin, lungs, gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts.

  • Biochemical barriers: e.g. secretions, mucus, and gastric acid.

  • Immune cells: e.g. T and B cells which produce antibodies to target and destroy the pathogen.

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Natural remedies for depression

Being depressed can make us feel helpless. We're not! As well as therapy and sometimes medication, there's a lot we can do on our own to fight back. Changing our behaviour, our physical activity, lifestyle, and even our way of thinking - are all natural depression treatments.

Here are some tried and tested tips that can help you feel better. So why not start right now?

Get into a routine

A lot of us take to our bed for days on end when we’re depressed. Setting a gentle daily schedule can help us get back on track, even if that's just getting out of bed, washed and ready before 10am, so that the days don't become an endless blur of nothingness.

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Brainwave entrainment: Binaural Beats and Isochronic Tones

Our brains are home to billions of neurons, which are specialised nerve cells that use electrical impulses to send messages to each other. British physician Richard Caton first noticed that the brain had an electrical current in 1875, and by 1924, German neurologist Hans Berger had found a way to read the current by developing a machine called an electroencephalograph (EEG). When attached by several pairs of electrodes to a patient's scalp, an EEG captures the electrical activity in the brain, then amplifies the signal and records it on a graph.

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Foods to eat more of

If healthy eating was one of your New Year resolutions, here are a few foods that you might like to eat more of;

Apples

Apples are often overlooked in preference to more exotic produce, simply because they’re so plentiful and familiar to us. However, they are extremely rich in important flavonoids; powerful antioxidants which help to neutralize the damage to our bodies caused by free radicals, which accelerate the ageing process and are implicated in diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma and stroke. Apples are also a good source of fibre and vitamin C, and as the majority of the nutrients are concentrated in the skin – be sure to leave the peel on!

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Are you lonely this Christmas?

For one reason or another, a good number of us will be spending Christmas by ourselves this year. For some, it will be the first time following the death of a partner, a relocation, or relationship breakdown. For others it will be a repeat of last year, and the year before that.

Being alone is not the same as being lonely. You may be looking forward to having some ‘me’ time in which you can binge on chocolates and a box set. Solitude is being alone by choice and being comfortable with it. But for those who don’t enjoy being alone, Christmas can intensify and bring to the surface, the negative emotions associated with being by oneself.

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The health benefits of pet ownership

Owning a pet isn’t for everyone, but according to several studies, those who do, are usually happier, healthier and better adjusted than those who don’t. There’s plenty of research that shows that dogs in particular can reduce stress, anxiety and depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise, and improve our overall health and wellbeing.

The responsibility of caring for a dog gives us a sense of purpose and makes us feel needed. It also boosts physical fitness and increases social interaction by forcing us to get off the couch and go for a walk every now and then, and perhaps most importantly, a dog can improve mood by bringing real joy and unconditional love into our life.

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Are herbal and dietary supplements effective against anxiety and depression?

There has been a massive boom in the use of supplements in recent years, as millions of us try to fight the effects of illness, ageing, and poor lifestyle choices to improve and prolong our health and well-being. Products that were once the preserve of specialist health food stores can now be found alongside our groceries on supermarket shelves, and every month seems to bring news of a newly discovered and exotic sounding remedy that could potentially solve all our problems.

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