Heartfulness meditation, a simple heart-based meditation practice aimed at attaining a balanced state of mind, helps in reducing stress and improving the quality of sleep, revealed a study.
The mixed-method study was conducted by US researchers during the Covid-19 pandemic and was published recently in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, said Heartfulness Institute, which has its global headquarters in Hyderabad.
Heartfulness meditation was associated with significant reduction in perceived stress and improvement in the quality of sleep of participants who completed the online-based meditation programme.
Kamlesh Patel, also known as Daaji, the guide of Heartfulness meditation, underlines the need to immediately address stress in one's life.
"The simple focus of life is to become better and better each day. To achieve this we need to be in a state of complete awareness about our self and raise our consciousness in tune with our true nature. Stress is the modern day ill created by our inability to focus on things that matter. Stress and its negative impact on our overall wellbeing has slowly but steadily taken control of every individual," he said.
"While we know Covid-19 as the pandemic, the build-up of stress and its ill impacts is the bigger pandemic and equally a bigger health crisis. Stress needs our urgent attention as well and in consistent practice of meditation we have the most effective vaccination to ward off stress and is the visa for living your life in joy," he added.
The study was conducted by Dr Kunal Desai, Dr Priti Parikh and Dr Alpa Desai of the Department of Internal Medicine, Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright University, Ohio, and Prof Dr Pratibha Gupta, Food Nutrition and Health Agricultural Research Development Programme, Central State University, Ohio.
Stress and lack of quality sleep are considered serious public health challenges despite modern lifestyles, comforts, and technological advances. The Covid-19 pandemic has genuinely brought attention to this pre-existing stress problem by making it significantly worse.
The study aimed to investigate whether using a virtual heart-based meditation program is associated with improved stress levels and quality of sleep. The researchers enrolled 63 participants to receive an eight-week virtually conducted Heartfulness meditation program. Of these, 36 (57 per cent) completed the entire eight weeks of the Heartfulness meditation programme.
The participants were recommended to attend a minimum of two out of a total of eight virtual trainer-guided group Heartfulness relaxation and meditation sessions each week. These sessions, conducted by one of the authors and a Heartfulness trainer (KD), included 5-7 min of relaxation followed by 20 min of meditation.
They were also provided instructions on using the phone application called 'HeartsApp' on their phones. They could connect as an anonymous seeker with a Heartfulness trainer through the application and meditate without any audiovisual interaction. They were also suggested self-practices to the best of their abilities.
"Our study showed that following Heartfulness meditation practice, PSS and PSQI improved significantly in the participants from different parts of the United States. About 31 per cent were healthcare professionals, and the entire programme was conducted virtually. Based on these observations, we propose that meditation programmes offered via virtual platforms can offer a convenient, helpful, and easily accessible tool to a large community at once to help improve the psychological wellbeing of individuals," said Dr Kunal Desai, who led the study.
"The results of qualitative analysis in our study bring a unique perspective to this aspect as we were able to show that the participants' subjective experiences strongly supported the results of the survey findings. Thus, these results enhance our understanding of how Heartfulness meditation practice helps reduce stress and improve the quality of sleep. Our qualitative analysis suggests these effects could be because a simple heart-based meditation brought a 'calming effect' in our participants, resulting in an 'inner peace'. Such an effect also resulted in inner changes in our participants, including positive thinking, accepting and empathic attitude, and an increase in awareness of one's own emotions and the needs of others."
This study adds to the existing literature supporting the benefits of Heartfulness practice, as reported by some previous studies showing the benefit of Heartfulness relaxation and meditation to reduce stress, burnout, loneliness, and improve the quality of sleep.
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Hyderabad- People suffering from arthritis should maintain an active lifestyle as physical exercise reduces inflammation by reducing fat and increasing the production and release of anti-inflammatory molecules, say doctors on World Arthritis Day.
Each year, October 12 is commemorated as World Arthritis Day, and this year, doctors recommend people to take a pledge to enhance awareness about arthritis, its related problems, to stay fit and active, and strive towards reducing the overall arthritis case burden in the country.
Arthritis is an autoimmune condition or a degenerative joint disorder, both causing inflammation in the joints, and these are chronic-cum debilitating problems. At present, there is no specified cure for this ailment, except to live with the problem and manage it from time to time, using steroids. Arthritis can cause severe pain, reduces the quality of life, and decrease people's ability to function.
Doctors warn that more Indians could become victims of arthritis-linked problems due to overweight and obesity. The prevalence of overweight and obesity in India is increasing faster than the world average.
The prevalence of overweight increased from 8.4 percent to 15.5 percent among women between 1998 and 2020, and the prevalence of obesity increased from 2.2 percent to 5.1 percent over the same period. Men are not behind in this problem, and together they are adding to the rising burden of arthritis cases in the country.
"Overweight or obesity along with problems like diabetes, suffering from a traumatic injury to joints, congenital joint deformities, could lead to arthritis problems. While there is a slight difference in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, both cause severe damage to human functions. And people who are obese are likely to suffer more than lighter peers after they cross a certain age threshold," said Jagan Mohan Reddy, Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon, SLG Hospitals.
According to K. Saketh, Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon (Sports Surgery & Regenerative Orthopedics), Gleneagles Global Hospital, severe pain in the joints deter arthritis patients from taking up any physical activity due to fear that it could worsen their condition.
"But it is important that individuals suffering from arthritis maintain an active lifestyle. Otherwise, a sedentary lifestyle will further debilitate their ability to do any physical activity, and this could have a severe psychological bearing on the mind. Hence, it is important arthritis patients do not stay immobile and instead motivate themselves to walk or exercise regularly."
Satyanarayana V V, Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon, Aware Gleneagles Global Hospital, pointed out that physical exercise reduces inflammation by reducing fat and increasing the production and release of anti-inflammatory molecules from human muscles.
"Given that inflammation is a primary cause of joint pain in arthritis, exercising will help improve symptoms and will play a crucial role in managing the problem," he said.
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Many young and middle-aged people today are dying of sudden heart attacks. Studies show that cardiovascular diseases (CVD) strike Indians a decade earlier compared to their Western counterparts.
Why is this happening? How can we prevent it? Are we just focused on post-heart attack action? Or should we be focused more on prevention?
Luke Coutinho, Holistic Lifestyle Coach Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine shares an input that could prevent heart attacks at a young age:
Cholesterol is not the culprit, inflammation is: Many people believe that high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides are the sole culprits behind their heart attacks. The main reasons behind most heart attacks are inflammation and oxidative damage in the heart, blood vessels, endothelial lining, arteries, and more. While maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is important, we cannot blame heart attacks on cholesterol levels alone.
What then can you do to keep inflammation in check and your heart strong? Adopt simple lifestyle changes.
Switch From Ordinary Substandard Cooking Oils to Cold-Pressed Oils: Refined oils are highly inflammatory and a threat to your heart. Using refined oils just to save some money isn't a wise idea. Choose the right quality and quantity of oil to boost your heart health. It might cost you a few extra bucks, but remember, your health is not a cost but an investment.
Switch From A Sedentary Lifestyle to An Active One: Even if you don't engage in a full-fledged workout, just stay active. Walking and yoga are the most effective exercises. Choose fun workouts that you enjoy -- dancing, aerobics, Zumba, swimming, whatever it is, but keep that body moving. People who live a sedentary lifestyle are at high risk of heart attacks. Having said that, over-working out with little or no rest or recovery period is equally harmful. So, figure out the adequate level of activity your body needs and stick to it.
Don't Take Matters to Your Heart: Before renting out your heart space and mind space to a person, event or experience, ask yourself if it is worth it. While stress is inevitable, what sets a happy person apart from a stressed person is their capacity to diffuse and navigate stress and see things in a positive light. You can continue attending stress management classes and workshops, and while all of them can help you feel better for some time, the real change happens when you start changing your perspective towards life and how you relate to stress.
Learn to accept and let go. Build your self-worth, create a beautiful inner world, reflect inwards, and allow these teachings to slip into your daily living.
Fix Your Sleep Routine: There is nothing cool about pulling an all-nighter to work or socialize more. Your body only cares about survival. Remember, your sleep is your heart's free drug. The chronic deprivation of it can increase your risk of a heart attack. Your heart is a muscle that needs recovery. Lack of sleep increases your insulin resistance and makes you more prone to type-2 diabetes and a gamut of metabolic conditions. So, adopt a fixed sleeping schedule and sleep deep.
We cannot wait for more misfortunate incidents to realize the importance of lifestyle and start prioritizing it. We must wake up and work towards prevention. Many of us may go through heart disease later in life, no matter how well we exercise or eat clean. So, identify risk factors and work towards tackling them. Even if one of your risk factors is genetic predisposition and there is nothing you can do about it, you can still alter your lifestyle. Our intelligent human body was designed to fix and heal itself. The least we can do is invest in it and help it do its job effectively. Lifestyle can help you bridge this gap.
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Migraine is a debilitating neurological disease, ranking consistently among the top 10 leading causes of years lived with disability, worldwide. The main symptom of migraine is an enduring headache, along with symptoms such as severe pain on one side of the head or throbbing pain, sensitivity to light and sound, and nausea. Despite being a very common headache disorder that affects roughly 15 percent of the adult population worldwide, it remains inadequately understood and most neglected.
In Delhi, approximately 25 per cent of the population suffers from migraines, every year.
While migraine is an invisible condition, it can severely impact individuals across personal, professional and social domains, thus affecting the overall quality of life and productivity. Work-from-home, or the 'new normal,' has drastically impacted the lives of people suffering from migraines from an inability to concentrate at work to missed workdays. It has become even more urgent to ensure that individuals have the understanding and tools to effectively manage migraines.
There is a lack of understanding amongst people about the severity of migraines. In a study we recently conducted, about 50 to 60 per cent of migraineurs were undiagnosed, despite recurrent headaches. Because migraine falls on a spectrum, ranging from infrequent or mild attacks to recurrent ones, many pass it off as merely a headache'. With busy work-from-home schedules, paired with fear of contracting COVID-19 infection and difficulty in accessing in-person care, people are avoiding seeking medical help for the condition, instead attributing symptoms to associated comorbidities, such as stress or depression."
He continued, "Financial worries due to job loss or salary cuts also contribute to aggravated migraine attacks, which is more noticeable recently. The effects of migraine on one's quality of life also reportedly worsened, particularly for many migraineurs working as essential healthcare workers at this time.
Symptom neglect and failure to treat the condition can lead to migraines becoming chronic. A fundamental need is to recognize migraine as a serious condition with severe disability and adopt a holistic treatment approach. Early detection can be a key enabler of a smoother patient journey and an improved quality of life."
Here are 5 ways to manage your migraine while working from home:
Identify Risk Factors and Monitor Triggers
Migraines can begin at any age but tend to peak during one's prime productive years. Moreover, women are three times more likely to be affected than men, with prevalence peaking between the ages of 25 and 55 years.
Long hours of working from home, along with longer screen times, disrupted sleep schedules and irregular eating habits can increase stress levels. For migraineurs, such changes can become migraine triggers, exacerbating their condition. Identifying personal triggers can help individuals manage their migraines better.
Make The Right Choice for Diet and Lifestyle
Working from home can be hard, but a daily routine that optimizes your physical and mental health can help keep your migraine at bay. Eating healthy meals at appropriate times or consuming small, frequent meals throughout the day are associated with less frequent migraine headaches. Taking breaks from work at regular intervals can help you eat right and reduce eye strain owing to excessive screen use. Making modifications to your lifestyle, including smoking cessation and reduced alcohol consumption, and maintaining optimal sleeping habits and exercising regularly can be key to manage migraines. These also benefit migraine prevention and treatment.
Talk to An Expert
It is important to consult a medical specialist when you are experiencing severe headaches that disrupt your daily routine. A lot of migraineurs hesitate to seek medical help. This could be due to several reasons lack of understanding of migraine severity, lack of time due to hectic work-from-home schedules, or recently, due to a reduction in-person clinic consultations owing to the fear of Covid-19 infection. However, consulting a neurologist, even via teleconsultations, is a necessary step to diagnose your condition and understand the available options for acute and chronic management of migraine, including preventive treatment. With evidence-based information on effects across migraine intensity reduction, quality of life and ease of use, neurologists can guide you on the most suitable treatment option to prevent or reduce your migraine episodes.
Track Your Migraines
It is a good idea to maintain a diary (or download a migraine tracker app), to record the time and severity of your migraine attacks, symptoms, daily diet, exercise routines, and medications and side effects. This can help identify triggers and patterns. It can also prompt meaningful conversations with your doctor, contributing to a more holistic treatment plan, personalized to suit your work schedule.
Seek Support From Your Family, Friends or Colleagues
Living with migraines can make one feel helpless, distressed and misunderstood. But talking to your friends and family will help them understand your condition better. Having an open conversation about your migraine with your employer is a good idea, particularly to work out a schedule, with specific routine adjustments to mitigate triggers. This can help you be productive and healthy while working from home. Employers can also take the initiative -- arranging wellness programs for employees to raise awareness about migraines and how to effectively manage them at work and enhance productivity.
Migraine attacks can be challenging. Changes to your daily routine and active communication about your condition with your employer, after consulting a neurologist, can help you better manage migraines as you work from home.
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Nutrition is the cornerstone of good health and development. From September 1-7, National Nutrition Week is being observed to spread awareness about good nutrition diet and healthy lifestyle. The nutrition week is observed to make people understand the importance of a nutrition filled diet so they can maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Apricots are a great supply of vitamins and minerals that are required for a healthy body. Eating apricots as a part of a diet rich in fruits is a great way to prevent cancer, low cholesterol, and heart disease risk. Apricots also enhance vision and improve digestion. Besides, it also aids in weight loss and improves skin health. The dietary fibre in Apricot increases the metabolism which improves the human body's digestion and prevents constipation. Apricot is also a good source of iron making it one of the curing food for anaemia.
It is a shrub from China and areas of Europe. It contains many medicinal compounds and nutrients like vitamins, amino acids and fatty acids which are good for a healthy immune system. The leaves and the berries of sea buckthorn are all used for their medicinal and nutritional qualities. Sea buckthorn is also used as a cosmetic treatment like sunscreen or any other remedy for skin problems. In herbal medicine, sea buckthorn is used to stimulate the digestive system and enhance heart and liver health as well. It is helpful for other health issues like diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, inflammation, and arthritis. According to Aseem Sood, Managing Director, Proveda India, their new nutritional powerhouse 'Sante Sea buckthorn Juice' is useful for all parts of human health.
Giloy has been used in Indian medicine for a very long due to its medicinal properties. Giloy is a powerhouse of antioxidants that attacks free-radical and prevents diseases. It helps in cleansing the blood and ward off liver diseases and urinary tract infections. Consuming Giloy is very beneficial as it improves digestion and treats bowel-related issues like constipation. Giloy is for excellent health and regular consumption of Giloy juice helps to reduce the high level of blood sugar and respiratory problems. It is also beneficial in treating arthritis.
Amla also known as gooseberry is powerful than any other fruit and is considered as one of the superfoods. Vitamin C, one of the nutrients in Amla, is easily absorbed by the body to combat the common cold. Studies have proven that carotene in Amla improves vision and regular consumption leads to improved eye health. One of the most exciting advantages of Amla is that it burns fat. Consuming Amla before a meal makes one feel full and help them eat less. Amla also boosts metabolism that will help in faster weight loss. This superfood also prevents dandruff and strengthen the hair follicles making hair look beautiful.
Ginseng is a light coloured, fork-shaped root herb that boosts energy and controls blood sugar and cholesterol levels. It helps to promote physical and mental activity for those who feel weak and tired most of the time. Some initial studies on cancer patients receiving treatment have shown that ginseng help reduces cancer-related weakness. Due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, Ginseng reduces inflammation. Ginseng also benefits brain functions like memory or mood swings.
Blueberries are incredibly healthy, nutritious and widely popular and often known as a superfood. Blueberries are low in calories. These berries are among the most nutrient-packed berries containing fibre, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Manganese along with a small number of other nutrients. The king of antioxidant foods, blueberries protect your body from free radicals preventing early ageing and other diseases like cancer. People with high blood pressure issues can consume blueberries as a part of their daily diet. Alongside, it also prevents heart diseases and helps in maintaining brain functions and also improving memory.
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Lifestyle plays a huge role in your fitness and health. Often a sedentary lifestyle along with unhealthy eating habits contribute to weight gain or other lifestyle diseases. With discipline and patience, you can work on your lifestyle to reach a fitness level you have always desired. Always remember that whatever changes you implement should not be focused on temporary results, but rather on a long and sustainable lifestyle.
A good fitness level is more important than just fat loss. However, you can lose fat by practising these things:
1. Make Your Diet A Lifestyle:
Most people tend to focus on diet as a destination, rather than a journey. Your nutrition should not be a trend or a plan for short-term results, but rather a lifestyle that you can follow effortlessly. Although easier said than done, implementing a positive lifestyle can have tremendous long-term results. Tweaking your food habits and incorporating essential macro and micronutrients can aid your fat-loss journey. A good way to include the right food components in your diet is through a good diet plan which you must follow with discipline. Eat good food every day. It's as simple as that. Don't divert even if you have to eat the same food every day, you can always innovate your dishes with the help of spices and other preparation methods.
2. Workout Regime To Increase Activity:
Even if you can't do a heavy workout every day, it is essential to include some kind of activity in your lifestyle. Find a physical activity that suits you. Some people despise gyms, but love jogging or playing a sport. Some like strength training and lifting weights. Whatever you choose, follow through without any excuses. Your daily physical activity plays a huge role in your metabolism and fitness level. It's not just about burning calories; it's about setting a pattern for your body to undergo positive stress. When you exercise, your body is already doing half the work required for losing weight and becoming fit.
3. Don't Compromise on Your Sleep and Hydration:
People underrate the importance of a good night's sleep. Your body requires sleep to recover, to balance the cortisol hormone level which is responsible for your binge eating. Sleeping is our body's natural way of balancing the stress level and rectifying any errors in its system. Fix a sleeping time and don't change it no matter what. This is one of the most important changes you must incorporate. The other being hydration water is extremely important for your system. Not only does it help in passing the nutrients throughout your system, but it also helps the body detox and shed the pesky water retention habit. You'll be surprised by the number of times your body confuses thirst for hunger, so always drink adequate water. Set a reminder through a phone app, it can be helpful.
(The author Pranit Shilimkar is a Health and Fitness Entrepreneur, Digital Content Creator and Founder of Fitnesstalks)
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