Mindfulness and how it works in the modern world

maria

Maria,
Clinical Governance Pharmacist at LloydsPharmacy

The world we live in is a fast paced world. Our brains and bodies are becoming wired to be always thinking ahead. With this comes an increase level of stress and anxiety in our lives. A consistent and prolonged state of anxiety can lead to a weakened immune system, depression, high blood pressure, and gastric problems. It is essential that we learn to ‘self- check’ and monitor our levels of anxiety. A certain level of anxiety is normal in our lives. It is our natural ‘fight or flight’ and ensures we accomplish what needs doing. However when these levels go out of synch then we see it impacting our health. Therefore the act of mindfulness is a series of simple techniques and approaches to help us to focus on the present. From this we learn to reduce our levels of stress and overwhelming anticipation. With the launch of our CYHD programme in our 93 stores, we in LloydsPharmacy are very focused on boosting wellbeing and attaining a better lifestyle.

 

How can you practice Mindfulness on a daily basis?

  • Meditation: A very simple technique and one of the most utilised approaches to mindfulness. It can be as simple as a few minutes in the morning or evening depending on your routine. Find a quiet, decluttered space in your home and make yourself feel comfortable. Some people choose to sit on a chair while others prefer to sit on the ground with their legs crossed and arms rested. Gently close your eyes and breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. You may notice your breath is quite shallow. Therefore to allow you to breathe more deeply and hence relax, hold your breath for approximately 5 seconds and then exhale. Once you have become more relaxed return to your normal breath pattern. Become aware of how you are feeling in your overall body. Are some areas of your body tight and tense? Allow yourself to acknowledge how you are feeling. Your thoughts begin to wander, that is completely fine. Let your mind wander. Listen to the sound of your environment and allow yourself to take sense of your environment. Again acknowledge this moment. Some people may like to stay in this state for 10 – 15 minutes, others longer. Once you feel you are ready, then gently soften your gaze, open your eyes and focus on where you are. Assess how you are feeling now after the session. Many people feel a greater sense of calm and their bodies, both physically and mentally, are more relaxed. This meditative approach can be done daily or weekly depending on what you feel works best for you. There is no right or wrong way to meditate. Some people bespoke their meditation to incorporate gentle music in the background, the burning of essential oils such as lavender or adding in gentle yoga sequences. Again see what works best for you.

 

  • Gratitude Journal: The concept of journaling is something we are all familiar with. It has been found that recording what we are grateful for allows us to appreciate the present, reduce stress levels and increase our levels of happiness. Again there is no right or wrong way to journal. Some people like to record two or three points maybe twice a week of what they are grateful for. Many find it therapeutic reviewing what they have recorded over time.

 

  • Online resources: There are many mindfulness apps that can guide you in your practice. ‘Headspace’ is an excellent app that you can download on your phone. It has many guided exercises that allow you as a beginner to get started. Other apps include the ‘smiling mind’ which has exercises for children and young adults, as well as the app ‘conscious, to name just a few.

Above are just a few pointers in directing you to including mindfulness in your daily routine. As you will see, the approach is personal to the individual. Even just by focussing on our breathing, recording our thoughts and taking time to acknowledge our presence can help in adding balance to our busy lives. To finish a quote I really like, ‘mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and the experience’ (Jon Kabatt Zin) and as we all know, we must be friends with ourselves first and foremost.

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Trying for a Baby? – How you can give you and your partner the best chance to conceive.

If you and your partner are in good health, you will improve your chances of getting pregnant and of having a healthy pregnancy.  You can also help yourselves by taking fertility supplements.

76% of Irish women who are trying to conceive believe taking a fertility supplement can help them conceive*.

What factors can affect the chance of having a baby?

Medical issues

Medical issues such as diabetes, asthma and being overweight can affect your pregnancy.

Diet and Exercise

Being overweight – For women if your body mass index (BMI) is between 20 and 25 you have a healthy weight.  Women whose BMI is more than 30 or under 19 may find their fertility levels suffer.  If a men’s BMI is more than 30, his fertility may be lower than normal.

It is important to be active for general feeling of wellness.  Being active and fitter helps with stamina and ability to cope with the ups and downs of everyday life.

Alcohol and smoking

Excessive alcohol drinking may affect the quality of a man’s sperm and smoking may reduce fertility in women.

Age can be a factor

For women, the most fertile period is in their mid –twenties and fertility starts to decrease after the age of 35.

For men, sperm is strongest in their mid-twenties and starts to decrease after the age of 40.

The importance of taking a good quality fertility supplement with the right ingredients and dosage levels.

While it is so important to do the best you can by eating well and exercising moderately, you can also help yourself and your partner by taking a high quality fertility supplement when trying for a baby.   It is very difficult, in today’s environment to get all the nutrients we need from food.

Indeed, the latest research amongst Irish women trying for a baby show that 76% of them believe in the importance of taking a nutritional supplement to aid conception*.

PROCEIVE is the new Irish Fertility Supplement specially made for men and women who wish to have a baby. It contains 33 nutrients, vitamins and minerals, at high quality dosage levels.  Each nutrient performs a role in maximising the quality of the eggs (for women) and the quality of the sperm (for men).

proceive range

Talk to your LloydsPharmacy teams – we are trained extensively in the value of nutrition and can give you helpful advice, recommend the correct fertility supplement to take in a safe, discreet and caring manner.

Don’t miss our Fabulous Pharmacist Laura Dowling who will be part of a panel discussing Fertility on Ireland AM on Monday 24th July at 9.20am.

*Source Mummy Pages July 2017/ http://www.proceive.ie

Controlling your bladder during and after pregnancy

Pregnancy places a lot of new additional stress on your pelvic floor muscles, causing them to weaken in as little as twelve weeks. At times it may feel as though your baby is playing a game with your bladder at the most inconvenient times.

innovo-pregnancy
If you are having trouble controlling your bladder while pregnant, here’s a few tips to help you manage the symptoms:

  1. Do your pelvic floor exercises!
    Pelvic floor exercises, or Kegel exercises are designed to support and strengthen the pelvic floor. Correct contraction of the pelvic floor muscles involves squeezing and lifting under the pelvis up into the body, around the vagina. Other parts of the body should be completely isolated avoiding activation of the glutes and inner thighs. Complete at least 30-40 contractions a day, aiming to work up to 10 seconds per contraction. For instance, complete 10 repetitions, 3-4 times per day. We know it can be difficult to find the time but you will be grateful in the end. And even if you can only manage a handful of some days that will be better than none at all.
  2. Keep your weight gain moderate
    Ensure your weight gain during pregnancy is progressing moderately by staying active and exercising within your limits. Follow a healthy and nutritious diet, as well as including fibrous foods to avoid constipation as this can add additional pressure on the pelvic floor.
  3. Don’t cut back on water intake
    Avoiding water will not solve the issue and may make you prone to other conditions such as urinary tract infections and dehydration. It is advised to keep drinking the recommended eight glasses of water a day.
  4. Avoid foods and beverages that irritate the bladder
    Beverages such as tea, coffee, alcohol and soft drinks can increase bladder activity, as well as acidic products and spicy foods can also irritate the bladder. Try to avoid these items, however continue to include essential fruits and vegetables in your diet.
  5. Manage the issue
    If you suffer leaks during pregnancy, it is advised to use panty liners to absorb any urine. This will help you cope rather than to restrict your activity or interfere with daily life.

Despite continuing with pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy, it is possible that your pelvic floor will weaken due to the weight of the baby and the impact of child birth. Innovotherapy is recommended from six weeks after giving birth, with significant improvements in as little as four weeks.1 Ensure you seek medical approval from your doctor before using the INNOVO® device. Now available in LloydsPharmacy stores and online here.

1) Soeder S, Tunn R. (2012) – Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) of the Pelvic Floor Muscles using a Non-Invasive Surface Device in the Treatment of Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI); A Pilot Study. IUGA Poster Presentation Conference, Dublin, Ireland (2013)

 

Top 5 tips for exam stress and preparation.

Exam-StressHere are five top tips from David Coleman for dealing with exam stress and preparation.

1. Be prepared. The more prepared you are the less anxious you will be. Knowing and practicing the exam formats, as well as studying the course content for the exams will always help to reduce stress.

2. Be realistic. Based on how you have done in other tests form a realistic expectation of how you might do then work hard to achieve this. Don’t pay any heed to other people’s expectations of how you “should” do.

3. Be healthy. Eating well and getting plenty of sleep are great ways to combat stress. Make sure to give your body the fuel and rest it needs so that your brain can perform at its best.

4. Be balanced. Too many hours studying will leave you exhausted and stressed. Balance out your study with sports, exercise and a social life. Try to let the exams be just part of your life, not all of your life.

5. Be positive. Having a positive outlook is a great buffer against stress. Try to focus confidently on the things that you know rather than worrying about things you feel you don’t know. Also remember that there is life after the exams…

 

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