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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Sleep is an essential function that helps in recharging our bodies and minds. Moreover, healthy sleep also helps the body in remaining fit and it staves off any diseases. When we do not get enough sleep, our brain does not function properly and it can impair our abilities to concentrate, think clearly and process memories. An adequate amount of sleep that an adult requires ranges from seven to nine hours.
However, work schedules, day-to-day stressors, a disruptive bedroom environment and medical conditions can prevent us from receiving adequate and peaceful sleep. Hence, a healthy diet and good lifestyle habits can ensure a good amount of sleep each night. However, for some people chronic lack of sleep may be a sign of a sleep disorder.
Sleep reflects one's state of mind and overall health in general. A good sleep is one which is age appropriate in duration, qualitatively divided into various sleep stages of adequate periods and which eventually makes a person feel refreshed in the morning and through the day. Although there is a wide variation in the amount of total sleep required by healthy adults to maintain a good daytime function, it is widely accepted that a good, consolidated 8 hours of uninterrupted night-time sleep is essential for majority of adults.
An adequate amount of sleep duration is extremely important to maintain good mental and physical health. A sleep deprived person often experiences decline in cognitive function, poor memory, inability to concentrate on tasks at hand and easy irritability with frequent mood swings. Even if the sleep duration is adequate, an interrupted and disrupted sleep with poor sleep quality devoid of deep sleep is also associated with excessive daytime sleepiness with declining cognitive function.
Lack of good sleep, both in terms of duration and quality, can adversely affect the physical wellbeing with such individuals being more prone to develop both infectious as well as lifestyle related diseases. With the millennial generation adopting a 24-hour lifestyle without any defined periods of sleep, increase in the total screen time during COVID-19 lockdowns due to exponential increase in online classes and meetings, and poor sleep hygiene, have all resulted in a variety of sleep disorders.
Ultimately, this very important aspect of keeping people healthy is not only being ignored but also leading to abuse of sleeping pills, alcohol and smoking. With rising stress levels and a constant pressure to meet deadlines, it is extremely important to maintain a work life balance and give oneself adequate opportunity and time to have a good night sleep. If anyone experiences any kind of sleep related issues, these should be brought to the immediate notice of the sleep physicians and expert opinion must be taken for timely diagnosis and management.
All in all, sleep is good and necessary. For adults, getting at least seven hours of sleep ensures proper daytime functioning which involves being alert for the day and being able to concentrate and not moody and tired through the day. Creating a night time routine that ensures that your mind and body are relaxed can be helpful in ensuring a good sleep for all individuals.(By Ayush Gupta)
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Skin problems like itchiness, dryness and flakiness can occur anytime if you're not moisturising your body enough. It is commonly observed that while many people take their skincare routine seriously, a majority of them neglect to moisturise the body. It is important to keep in mind that timing matters a lot when it comes to applying moisturisers. Therefore, knowing the appropriate time to apply body lotion is essential. Take a look at the ideal times to moisturise your body.
Moisturising the body in the morning sets your skin up to face countless irritants and environmental factors during the day. The skin is constantly exposed to harsh chemicals and pollutants when you're outside which is why using a protective and soothing moisturiser while going out is necessary. Kimirica's Five Elements Body Lotion comes with natural Aloe Vera extracts that act as a rich source of antioxidants and vitamins that helps protect your skin and provides a deep nourishing effect.
After Shower, Shaving and Washing Hands
After you take a shower, your skin has the maximum moisture and moisturisers work effectively on hydrated skin. That is why dermatologists always recommend applying moisturiser right after getting out of the shower. When applied early, moisturisers are able to trap some water that's still in the body and hydrate the body.
Shaving not only helps you to get rid of unwanted body hair but also removes the surface skin cells. To soothe any skin irritation and protect the exposed skin from dryness, apply any hydrating moisturiser that gives your skin a natural glow.
The increasing use of antibacterial soaps and hand wash takes a toll on your hand disrupting the natural skin barrier. To protect your hands from cracking and dryness, you can use the brand's Bouquet Hand Lotion that comes with a rich combination of sweet almond oil, Shea butter, grape seed extracts, Olive Oil and Jojoba Oil.
During and After Your Flights
Travelling makes your skin dryer, the reason being the low humidity and the recycled air inside. As body lotions are available in small sizes, it is advisable that you should carry your body lotion and apply it during your flight and once you land as this will help in combating the skin drying issue.
Research has shown that the skin effectively repairs itself from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. That's why you should always make sure to moisturise your skin on or before this time. Also, it has been observed that the skin's transeepidermal water loss increases during sleep which takes away plenty of moisture from the skin. So, all these reasons make it quite clear as to why you should always moisturise your body before going to sleep.
Exfoliation is an important step in any skincare routine but applying body lotion post exfoliating is equally required. Exfoliating results in the removal of dead skin cells which makes space for a new layer of skin. Applying body lotion will help to soothe the top layer of skin and also strengthen the moisture barrier.
Workout sessions are often sweaty and tiring but preparing your skin before stepping out is very important as exercising outside often leads to dryness. Applying light-weight body lotion before your session is recommended.
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Mental illnesses in various forms have been a major health burden globally in recent years. Unhealthy lifestyles, poor eating habits and rise in work-related stress are factors that are contributing to the rising incidence of anxiety and depression. Psychotic drugs in treating anxiety and depression are effective but offer only symptomatic relief. Long-term intake of drugs often leads to dependence without preventing further illness or providing a comprehensive solution to improving mental health.
People suffering from poor mental health can reap rich and long-term benefits by adopting the ancient Indian practice of Yoga in their daily lives. Yoga helps in maintaining good mental and physical health. It harmonises our body and mind and restores our emotional balance. There is growing evidence that Yoga can have a positive impact on depression, anxiety and those who have Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). When adopted as a daily practice, yoga can help calm down the mind and prevent the development of mental illnesses.
Stress is the root cause of several lifestyle diseases. Yoga adopts a scientific approach of exercising and relaxing to ease the stress of modern day living. Yoga also contributes to improving memory, sleep and even quality of life in elderly persons with mild memory impairment.
Here are some poses that help improve mental health besides providing other health benefits:
Shashankasana or Child's Pose
This asana stimulates your nervous system thereby re-energizing your whole body. This asana is basically a resting pose somehow resembling a child in fetal position. It is performed by sitting down on the knees and then bending forward so that the chest touches the thighs, and the forehead touches the ground. Stretch the arms forward. If performed with precision regularly, the performer will notice a sense of mental, physical, and emotional comfort descending upon him/her. Like most yoga asanas, this one, too, should be performed on an empty stomach or at least six hours after a meal. However, people suffering from high blood pressure and back pain should avoid this asana.
This inverted pose is one of the best yoga asanas for improving blood circulation towards the head. It helps to calm anxiety, treat depression and insomnia besides regulating blood flow. This pose can be performed by lying down flat on your back. Keep the legs together. While inhaling raise the legs, buttocks and the trunk and support the hips on the palm. The trunk is held at 45 degrees angle to the ground. Breathe normally in this position. To return, lower the legs over the head and keep the hands down while exhaling. Bring the spine and the legs down.
This yoga pose is thought to be therapeutic for people suffering from high blood pressure, asthma, sinusitis, infertility and osteoporosis. It also helps to relieve mild depression and beat insomnia as it is highly beneficial as a relaxation tool. To perform this pose, stand straight. Raise your hands from the front to above your head as you inhale slowly. Bend backwards from the upper back and maintain the position with normal breathing.
This pose is typically performed at the end of yoga routines and helps boost mental health and relaxes the body. Lie flat on your back, keeping the body straight and hands at the sides with palms facing upwards. Close your eyes and hold the position for at least five minutes. Even pregnant women can practice this asana as it will help them prevent prenatal depression, a prevalent mental disorder in women during pregnancy.
It should be noted that the above-mentioned yogic practices are to be learned in a gradual manner under the supervision of a yoga expert. Yoga enables a practitioner to expand their mental faculties and achieve a greater acceptance of self and others, which ultimately leads to calmer approach to the life.
Yoga encourages practitioners to experience an open heart. Many yogic philosophers consider the entire practice to be about metaphorically connecting to our hearts. Within the chakra system, the heart lies in the middle of the seven chakras. Asanas such as arda chakrasana (back bend), kapotasana (pigeon pose), and ustrasana (camel pose) encourage the expansion of the centre of the chest which is the location of the anahata chakra, the yogic heart centre. Visualizations and pranyams in yoga also encourage open heartedness.
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लखनऊ | 'डेंटल स्लीप मेडिसिन' पर एक सम्मेलन के अनुसार भारत में करीब 40 लाख लोग, खासकर बुजुर्ग और मोटे लोग ऑब्सट्रक्टिव स्लीप एपनिया (ओएसए) सिंड्रोम से पीड़ित हैं। सोमवार को यहां आयोजित सम्मेलन में विशेषज्ञों ने कहा कि अगर कोई व्यक्ति सांस लेने में तकलीफ के कारण रात में कई बार जागता है और पूरे दिन सिरदर्द और थकान के साथ सुबह शुष्क मुंह का अनुभव करता है, तो यह ओएसए के कारण हो सकता है।
श्वसन चिकित्सा में, ओएसए का आमतौर पर निरंतर पॉजिटिव वायुमार्ग दबाव मशीनों के साथ इलाज किया जाता है, लेकिन दंत चिकित्सा भी आसान प्रबंधन प्रदान करती है।
सरस्वती डेंटल कॉलेज के डीन और सम्मेलन के आयोजक प्रोफेसर अरविंद त्रिपाठी ने कहा, "मोटापा, जीवन शैली का तनाव और दांतों का पूरा गिरना ऊपरी वायुमार्ग में संपीड़न का कारण बन सकता है। यह सांस लेने पर प्रतिकूल प्रभाव डालता है। अगर ऐसी स्थिति लंबे समय तक बनी रहती है और अनुपचारित छोड़ दी जाती है, तो यह शरीर की ऑक्सीजन की आवश्यकता को प्रभावित करती है और हृदय और श्वसन संबंधी समस्याएं पैदा कर सकती है।"
दंत चिकित्सा में, विशेषज्ञों ने कहा, इस स्थिति का इलाज मैंडिबुलर उन्नति उपकरण के साथ किया जा सकता है, एक मौखिक उपकरण जो अस्थायी रूप से जबड़े और जीभ को आगे बढ़ाता है, गले के कसने को कम करता है और वायुमार्ग की जगह को बढ़ाता है।
विश्व स्वास्थ्य संगठन के लखनऊ कार्यालय के डॉ अंकुर ने कहा, "लगभग 80 प्रतिशत रोगियों को नहीं पता कि वे ओएसए से पीड़ित हैं और यह घातक हो सकता है, इसलिए लोगों को इसके बारे में बुनियादी जानकारी होनी चाहिए।"
यह भी पढ़े► कैंसर और हार्ट अटैक से ज्यादा खतरनाक हो जाएगा सेप्सिस: शोध
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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