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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Home health remedies that actually work

There are few more miserable experiences in life than sitting in a packed surgery, side-by-side with other glum-looking patients and their potentially contagious problems, waiting to be seen by the doctor. So are there some ailments that we could effectively treat at home using everyday items that we’ve probably already got in our kitchen cupboard?

The answer is yes, there do appear to be a number of home remedies that have been proven to work. Here are some that I think you might find useful.

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The effects of junk food on our mental health

My research into gut health (see blog posted in September), prompted me to delve a little deeper into the effects that our increasing consumption of ready-meals, takeaways and ‘junk food’ is having on our mental well-being. Most of us are aware of the increased risk to our physical health of a high-fat/high sugar diet; western media regularly reports on the rise in obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes….but the effects on our brain and our mental health are not so well known.

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10 Life quotes

We all experience times when things aren’t going well and we can’t see a way forward. One way that helps me maintain perspective and stay positive at times like this is to keep in mind two or three well-known motivational quotes to help me get back on track.

The following list contains ten quotes that I use regularly…… but an on-line search will bring up hundreds more, a few of which may help you get through difficult times, or help you to focus on your goals.

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How to improve your gut health

We have around 100 trillion micro-organisms in our body, most of them bacteria, but also viruses, fungi, and protozoa. While some micro-organisms are harmful to our health, many are incredibly beneficial and even necessary to a healthy body. Most of them live in our digestive system, (commonly referred to as our ‘gut’), which consists of a group of organs that includes the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, large intestine (colon), and rectum.

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Have you tried yoga yet?

Have you noticed how many yoga classes are available in gyms, health clubs and community centres near you? Increasing numbers of people of all ages and abilities are attending classes, and many of them are looking for more than just a fitness regime… They’re hoping that yoga will be able to relieve all sorts of physical and mental health issues that conventional treatments haven’t been able to resolve.

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Grow herbs for health and happiness

I’ve been growing herbs for a few years now and I really enjoy it. If like me, you live in an urban environment with limited outdoor space, growing herbs is a great introduction to gardening, which according to numerous research studies, has been shown to have a significant positive impact on our health and wellbeing.

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