How to Boost Brain Power

How to Boost Brain Power

Until just a few years ago, doctors believed that the brain stopped making new neural connections – meaning that the memory began to get irreversibly worse – when the body stopped developing, usually in the early 20s. And doctors knew that, like any other part of the body, neurons weaken as people age. Loss of brain function due to neural breakdown was assumed to be a normal, unavoidable part of aging. It turns out they were wrong.

In the past few years, it has become clear that you can, in fact, make new neurons starting in your 20s and continuing well into old age. You can literally rewire the brain with new parts as the older parts wear out. How?

There are lots of things you can do right now to preserve, protect and enhance your gray matter.

1Physical exercise

A healthy body really does mean a healthy mind. In the last decade it became clear that regular exercise beneficially affects brain function. Exercise boosts brain power by stimulating formation of new brain cells (neurons), the process known as neurogenesis2. Also, exercise strengthens connections between those cells. Researchers have found the areas of the brain that are stimulated through exercise are associated with memory and learning1.

Physical exercise may even help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Several studies7 have confirmed that regular physical activity reduces the risk of cognitive decline and dementia in old age.

2Lifelong learning – your brain is a learning machine

For most of us, after we graduate from high school or college, our pursuit of new knowledge bottoms out over time. We may be masters at what we do, but we aren’t learning new things. There is clear evidence8 that education and learning produce favourable changes in the brain. Researchers believe that intellectual activity play a neuroprotective role against dementia. Some studies suggest that having a low level of formal education and poor linguistic skills is a risk factor for cognitive decline in later life.

But if you continue to learn and challenge yourself, your brain continues to grow, literally. Recent research9 have demonstrated that learning over time enhances memory and the survival of new brain cells. An active brain produces new connections between nerve cells that allow cells to communicate with one another. This helps your brain store and retrieve information more easily, no matter what your age.

How can you challenge yourself? Scientists agree that anything that is new and expands your knowledge will be effective:

  • Learning to play a musical instrument
  • Switching careers or starting a new one
  • Starting a new hobby, such as crafts, painting, biking or bird-watching
  • Learning a foreign language. According to the latest study speaking more than one language may slow the aging process in the mind.
  • Staying informed about what’s going on in the world
  • Learning to cook new dish

If you let your brain be idle, it’s not going to be in the best health.

3Mental stimulation

Researchers found that a woman’s memory can be impaired for at least a year after giving birth, although the effects are minor

Stimulate your brain. Make sure you’re actively problem-solving and having to use your memory. Just as physical activity keeps your body strong, mental activity keeps your mind sharp and agile. The more we think, the better our brains function – regardless of age. Without something to keep us mentally charged, our brains, like unused muscles, can atrophy, leading to a decline in cognitive abilities.

The study6, conducted by researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, found that mentally active seniors reduced their risk of dementia by as much as 75 percent, compared to those who do not stimulate their minds. Researchers from the Princeton University10 found that simple cognitive stimulation such as Bingo can be of great value to the daily management of Alzheimer’s patients.

Some good ways to stimulate your mind:

  • Travel
  • Going to museums
  • Reading books, newspapers, or magazines
  • Play ‘thinking’ games like cards, checkers, chess, crosswords, sudoku puzzles
  • Scrabble or doing crossword puzzles
  • Playing musical instruments
  • Dancing
  • Crafts such as drawing, painting, and ceramics
  • Ditch the calculator once in while and forcing yourself to do the calculation
  • Volunteering

4Social interaction – People are good medicine

“Social interaction” can be measured by how often people talk on the phone with friends, neighbors and relatives, how often they get together with them, how many people they can share their most private feelings and concerns with.

Men are one and a half times more likely than women to develop mild cognitive impairment (the transition stage before dementia).

Socializing may have a protective effect on the brain because it’s a form of mental exercise. Not only does interacting with people stimulate the brain, but it can also keep you sharp, because dealing with people can be pretty challenging. Strong social ties have been associated with lower blood pressure and longer life expectancies.

And having no social ties is believed to be an independent risk factor for cognitive decline in older persons.

A U.S. team found11 that talking to another person for 10 minutes a day improves memory and test scores. They found that socializing was just as effective as more traditional kinds of mental exercise in boosting memory and intellectual performance. They also found that the higher the level of social interaction, the better the cognitive functioning. Social interaction included getting together or having phone chats with relatives, friends and neighbors.

In a study of more than 2,800 people ages 65 or older, Harvard researchers12 found that those with at least five social ties – church groups, social groups, regular visits, or phone calls with family and friends – were less likely to suffer cognitive decline than those with no social ties.

5Sleep & Nap

Sleep plays a crucial role in brain development and growth.

One of the explanations the science has come up with for the healing power of sleep is that sleep may contribute to neurogenesis, the formation of new nerve cells in the brain. New research in animals13 provides a clue about how the sleep deprivation harm the brains – reduces the number of new brain cells. Without sufficient sleep, neurons may not have time to repair all the damage, and so could malfunction during the day.

Sleep is necessary for the brain to process and consolidate knowledge and for memories to form. Neuroscientists say that during sleep the hippocampus (where memory is stored) becomes highly active and moves knowledge from short-term memory to long-term memory14.

The memories laid down by the sleeping brain are of two kinds. Declarative memory is memory for information – facts, dates, and names. Procedural memory is what allows us to do things like play a musical instrument, ride a bicycle, or add up a bill. Scientists think these two types of memory are influenced by different parts of the sleep cycle. Slow wave sleep benefit mainly the consolidation of declarative memories. In contrast, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep seems to benefit procedural memory15.

According to animal studies, when you perform a task, the brain cells fire in a certain sequence. If you then fall asleep, the same cells automatically fire in an identical sequence without being distracted or disrupted by incoming visual stimuli.

There is a consistent pattern: Learn something new during the day, consolidate what you have learned during a good night’s sleep, then remember or perform the task better in the morning. However, sleep before learning is also critical in preparing the brain for next-day memory formation.

Even a nap in the middle of the day may benefit some learning, according to a recent study5. Sleep appears to help “set” the declarative memories and make them easier to recall.

6Stress management

The brain uses 20 percent of our body’s oxygen and 20 percent of its blood.

Scientists believe people exposed to chronic stress tend to have elevated levels of cortisol – a hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to acute and chronic stress. High cortisol levels are dangerous to the brain.

Some of the most impressive effects of the stress on brain are hippocampus atrophy, shrinkage of the hippocampus or prefrontal cortex (the area of the brain unique to humans), and even neural death in some brain regions20. The hippocampus, a vital brain region for episodic, spatial, and contextual memory, has many cortisol receptors, which makes it especially susceptible to stress.

Severe stress lasting weeks or months can impair cell communication in the brain’s learning and memory region. Increased stress hormones lead to memory impairment in the elderly and learning difficulties in young adults19.

Short-term stress is also destructive. Researcher from the University of California18 have found short-term stress lasting as little as a few hours can impair brain-cell communication in areas associated with learning and memory. They found that rather than involving the widely known stress hormone cortisol, which circulates throughout the body, acute stress activated selective molecules called corticotropin releasing hormones, which disrupted the process by which the brain collects and stores memories.

Stress is a constant in our lives and cannot be avoided. So, stress management is the key, not stress elimination. Several ways to help you manage stress in your daily life:

  • See problems as opportunities
  • Get away from the noise
  • Exercise
  • Learn relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation
  • Cut down on unnecessary responsibilities and avoid over-scheduling
  • Make time for leisure activities
  • Get a massage

7Laugh & Humor

Laughter is the best medicine! We’ve heard the expression time and again. Medical world has begun to take more serious notice of the healing power of humor and the positive emotions associated with it. By having fun and laughing, your stress levels decrease significantly. Humor stimulates the parts of our brain that use the “feel good” chemical messenger dopamine. Also, researchers found that humor improves memory26.

8Healthy breakfast

It might be the last thing on your morning to-do list, or it might not be on your list at all. However, many studies have shown that having breakfast improves the ability of concentration, reaction time, learning ability, mood and memory, whereas skipping breakfast reduces people’s performance at school and at work27.

A recent study done at Cardiff University in Wales found that subjects who ate a high-fiber cereal in the morning showed a 10 percent reduction in fatigue, lower incidence of depression, and better cognitive skills. Fiber helps slow down the absorption of food in the stomach, so you have more energy for a longer period of time.

9Omega-3 fatty acids

High intake of omega-6 rich oils (such as sunflower or grape seed oil) may boost the risk of developing memory problems, say French researchers4.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain health – they provide the physical building blocks necessary for the development and maintenance of the structural and functional integrity of the brain. In fact, one of the omega-3 fatty acids, commonly known as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), makes up a large portion of the gray matter in the brain and is vital for brain cells function. Adding more DHA to your brain directly influences cell-to-cell communication, affects nerve conduction and neurotransmitter release, and other things that allow brain cells to send messages to each other21. DHA is essential to normal brain function, and a diet rich in DHA improves learning, while a lack of DHA worsens learning ability.

French researchers4 found that people who regularly consume omega-3 rich oils, such as canola, flaxseed, and walnut oil, are 60 percent less likely to develop dementia than those who do not regularly consume such oils. Regular consumption of fruits and vegetables lowers dementia risk by 30 percent. People who eat fish at least once a week are 40 percent less likely to develop dementia.

Coldwater fish, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and herring are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids (just be careful to eat this in moderation due to potential contamination with mercury). Dutch studies22 revealed that high fish consumption may reduce the risk of dementia and cognitive decline.

10Blueberries

Would you believe that eating this tasty, low-glycemic superfood every day was found by the USDA at Tufts University23 to slow and even reverse age-related brain decline, as well as improve short-term memory loss and help reverse age-related loss of balance?!

Blueberries are a major source of flavonoids, in particular anthocyanins and flavanols. Although the precise mechanisms by which these plant-derived molecules affect the brain are unknown, they have been shown to cross the blood brain barrier after dietary intake. It is believed that they exert their effects on learning and memory by enhancing existing neuronal connections, improving cellular communications and stimulating neuronal regeneration.

11Vegetables

Researchers found that eating vegetables appears to help keep the brain young and may slow the mental decline sometimes associated with growing old16. Cruciferous and green leafy vegetables including cauliflower, spinach, kale, broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprout and collards appear to be the most beneficial17. Researchers say that may be because they contain healthy amounts of vitamin E, an antioxidant that is believed to help fight chemicals produced by the body that can damage cells.

Increased blood level of homocysteine is a strong risk factor for the development of Alzheimer disease and dementia31. Three B vitamins, folic acid, B6, and B12, can help lower your homocysteine levels. Fortified cereal, other grains, and leafy green vegetables are good sources of B vitamins.

12Want to drink? Choose red wine!

People who drink to forget bad memories may actually be doing the opposite by reinforcing the neural circuits that control negative emotional memory3

While heavy drinking clearly causes serious problems for many people, drinking in moderation may be good for the brain.

Intake of up to three daily servings of wine, unlike other alcohol beverages (liquor, beer), is associated with a lower risk of dementia. This may be due to the ability of red wine polyphenols to protect brain cells against alcohol-induced damage25. There is well-documented evidence that resveratrol, a polyphenol found in red wine and red grape skin and seeds, has a significant antioxidant properties and produces neuroprotective effects24.

13Care for your heart and vessels

Many risk factors for cardiovascular disease may also contribute to cognitive decline and dementia.

High blood pressure in midlife increases the risk of cognitive decline in old age28.

Diabetes29 and high levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol30 appear to significantly increase the risk of dementia.

14Neurobics

Created by Lawrence C. Katz, Ph.D., a professor of neurobiology at Duke University Medical Center, neurobics is a unique system of brain exercises using your five physical senses and your emotional sense in unexpected ways that encourage you to shake up your everyday routines. Studies have shown that even small changes in daily patterns cause brain stimulation.

Neurobics can be done anywhere, anytime, in offbeat, fun and easy ways. These exercises can activate underused nerve pathways and connections, helping you achieve a fit and flexible mind:

  • Drive to work a different route
  • Get dressed with your eyes closed
  • Brush your teeth with the other hand
  • Unlock the door with your eyes closed
  • Use your opposite hand to dial the phone or operate the TV remote
  • Listen to music and smell flowers at the same time
  • Shop at new grocery store

Research has suggested that using your left hand if you’re right handed or your right if you’re left handed more often, can help stimulate parts of the brain that you don’t normally use.

Lower Back Pain Exercises

Lower Back Pain Exercises

There are many different types of lower back pain exercises that can help you to relieve some of the discomfort.  It is important that you contact a doctor before you begin any exercises for lower back pain so you do not cause more extensive problems.   Back exercises for lower back pain can consist of strengthening and aerobic exercises.  An exercise ball can help to enhance any stretching exercises you perform.

Lower Back Pain Exercises – Strengthening

Strengthening your core adds support to your lower back.   Core stability involves the abdominal and trunk muscles, as well as the pelvic.  Strengthening exercises can help to support your lower back muscles, which can help with relieving back pain and prevent future injury.   Here are some strengthening back exercises for lower back pain:

Front Lying Chest Lift

  • Lie on your stomach.
  • Interlace your fingers.
  • Place your palms against the back of your head. If there is pain, just put your palms on the floor on either side of your head.
  • Raise your chest up from the floor a few inches.   Hold for five seconds.
  • Do three sets of eight reps.

Pelvic Tilt

  • Pelvic TiltLie on your back.
  • Bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floors.
  • Press your feet down while you are pushing your pelvis upward.

Stomach Leg Lifts

  • Lie down on your stomach.
  • Place your palms on the floor to support your chin.
  • Press your pelvis to the floor while lifting both legs off of the ground a few inches.
  • Hold and repeat.

Double Knees to ChestDouble Knees to Chest

  • Lie on your back.
  • Place your arms to your side.
  • Extend your legs.
  • Pull both legs in towards your chest.
  • Grasp your legs from behind the knees.
  • Hold and repeat.

Curl Ups

 

  • Lie on your back.
  • Place your hands behind your head.
  • Bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor.
  • Curl up by lifting your face toward the ceiling until your shoulders are just a few inches above the ground.
  • Hold and repeat.

Oblique Curl Ups

 

  • Lie on your back.
  • Place your hands behind your head.
  • Bend your knees and roll them to the right and then curl up.
  • Repeat on the left side.

These are just a few strengthening stretches for lower back pain.   You can find more stretches in our article titled, “Lower Back Pain Stretches.”

Lower Back Pain Exercises – Exercise Ball (Stretching)

An exercise ball is a helpful tool that can help to enhance the stretch without straining your back or other muscles.   If you are new to using an exercise ball, then you may wish to choose one that is soft.  It will be easier for you if the ball is not completely filled.  Soft balls are easier to work with than hard balls that are filled at full capacity.  Perform each exercise slowly.

Leg/Floor Ball Exercise

 

  • Lie on your back.
  • Bend your knees while resting your calves on the ball.
  • Raise your arm over your head and then lower it and alternate between the right and left sides.
  • Tighten one knee.  Relax and alternate between right and left sides.
  • Straighten one knee and raise the opposite arm over your head.   Alternate the opposite arms and legs.
  • Walk the ball forward and backward with your legs.

Sit on Ball Exercise

  • Sit on the ball with your hips and knees bent at a 90 degree angle.  Rest your feet on the floor.
  • Raise your arm over your head and lower it.  Alternate the sides.
  • Raise and lower your heel.  Alternate the sides.
  • Raise one heel and then raise the opposite arm over your head.  Alternate the opposite arm and the heel.
  • March by slowly raising one foot two inches from the floor.  Alternate the right and left sides.
Standing
  • Stand with the ball between your lower back and the wall.
  • Bend your knees 45 to 90 degrees.  Hold for five seconds.  Next, straighten your knees.
  • Bend your knees 45 to 90 degrees while you raise both arms over your head.

Be sure you don’t arch your back when performing exercises.

Lower Back Pain Exercises – Aerobics

Aerobic exercises have an important role in helping with lower back pain.  You will want to incorporate a low impact aerobic exercise into your routine.    Here are some low impact aerobics to consider:

  • Swimming
  • Walking
  • Water Aerobics
  • Bicycling
  • Low Impact Aerobic DVDs

Be sure to start off slow and gradually increase your pace and distance.  For example, if you do not usually swim, start with one lap, and then gradually increase to two, and then three, etc.   Eventually, you should try to work towards a regular routine of 20 to 40 minutes three to five times a week.

Always use proper posture techniques when exercising.  This is important in reducing strain on your back.  When you walk, stand up straight without slouching.  Your back should be slightly arched and pay attention to your abdominals.  They should be pulled in.  Stay away from aerobics that will jar your body, such as running or aerobic dance, as they can be too hard on injured muscles and joints.

Remember to contact a doctor before you start an exercise routine for lower back pain.  If you experience severe pain after you have started lower back pain exercises, then stop exercising and contact a doctor immediately.

Glendale Union High School District (GUHSD) Add Vision Benefit for Teachers

Glendale Union High School District (GUHSD) Add Vision Benefit for Teachers

 

The Glendale Union High School District (GUHSD) recently joined the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT), a large non-profit purchasing cooperative for Arizona school districts and other public employers.  As a result, GUHSD has more options for its teachers, other staff and dependents at a lower cost.

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One immediate benefit is that GUHSD is now providing a stand alone vision option for its staff through VSP, a leader in high quality eye care insurance.  This new, full vision program, has additional features such as the Diabetic Eye Care Program and the TruHearing Benefit.

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Increasingly, medical science is showing the connection between our eyes and our overall health.  Eyes are not just the windows on the soul, but windows on our current health status.  Just as high quality dental care is now seen to benefit a wide array of health issues including heart disease, so too are we finding proper eye care and preventive check-ups are a great method for catching problems quickly.

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GUHSD is to be commended in these tough budget times with K-12 funding reduced from required levels by recent state budget limits, that they can find innovative ways to save money for the taxpayers while still improving the benefits for their staff so they can focus, literally, on the task at hand of educating the next generation.

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WHY IS VISION HEALTH SO IMPORTANT?

Your eyes not only affect how you see, but how you feel. Caring for your vision can lead to a better quality of life. Your eyesight impacts your performance at work, school, and home. When your vision health is at its best, you perform better in all aspects of your life. Not to mention, eye strain leads to headaches, fatigue, and other discomforts that keep you from feeling your best.

A WINDOW TO THE REST OF YOUR BODY

Did you know that a number of health conditions can be detected early by your eye doctor? An eye exam can detect conditions like diabetes, years before you show signs of the disease, allowing you to better manage health issues before they become a problem.

In addition to diabetes, annual eye exams can identify eye and general health conditions, such as:

  • Macular degeneration
  • Glaucoma
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Risk of stroke
  • Risk of heart disease

YOU’RE IN CHARGE

The eye is controlled by muscles, just like many other parts of the body. So just like the rest of your body, your eye health is impacted by your lifestyle, including eating habits, regular exercise, and routine physical exams. Getting an annual eye exam is a very important part of maintaining your overall health!

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Thank you to Sheri Gilbert for bringing this good news to our attention.

Tips to Stop Panic Attacks and Anxiety

I reposted this from StumbleUpon, originally taken from calmclinic.com.  I do not know enough about them to endorse or not.  This is merely some advice they give to sufferers for anxiety that I hope will help those of you who need some extra tools in your tool box for controlling anxiety.

3 Tips to Stop Panic Attacks and Anxiety Cold

Millions of people struggle with anxiety every day. Overcoming anxiety is something that takes serious commitment. Most people want to stop panic attacks and anxiety overnight, but your anxiety has been forged through years of experiences, biology, and your own personality. You can’t simply turn that off on a whim.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t tools that can control your anxiety considerably, and in some cases you may find that these techniques make your anxiety far more manageable. The following are three simple but important things to try to fight anxiety.

Stop Managing Anxiety and CURE It

There is no quick fix for anxiety. It’s become part of your personality. But if you’re ready to cure it forever, there are techniques that have proven to be effective.

Never Accept Failure

It’s important to remember that everyone can control anxiety. There are very few one size fits all approaches to combatting your anxiety symptoms. Commit to a method that you’re willing to try, and if it doesn’t work, move on to the next one.

By choosing a symptoms-based treatment that looks at the specific anxiety problem you experience and recommends a follow up treatment, you’ll increase your chances of success. My anxiety test is the best place to start.

Quick Methods of Fighting Anxiety

Remember, very few people can cure anxiety in a day. Curing anxiety is a process, and one that you shouldn’t expect to reach for a long time, even with the best anxiety treatment. But there are strategies you can try that may speed up the process or reduce your anxiety considerable. They include:

1. Start Running

Priority number one is that you start running or jogging regularly. As long as you’re healthy enough for physical activity, regular, daily jogging should be your number one treatment choice.

It may sound silly, but the reality is that your physical energy contributes to anxiety in a host of ways:

  • Unused energy can become anxiety and actually create anxious thoughts.
  • Unused muscles may become tense and cause more anxiety symptoms.
  • Those that don’t exercise are more prone to hormonal fluctuations and poor nutrition.

There is a high correlation between those that don’t exercise and those that experience anxiety. In addition, beyond the health components of jogging and exercise, there are additional benefits as well. These include:

  • Endorphins – During exercise the body releases neurotransmitters that are designed to make exercise easier and less painful, like endorphins. Endorphins also play a significant role in relaxation. By exercising, your mind and body will have a much easier time relaxing.
  • Cortisol – Cortisol is a hormone released during times of stress, and it’s responsible for many of the symptoms associated with anxiety. Running burns away excess cortisol, causing fewer anxiety symptoms and less long term damage from cortisol release.
  • Overall Health – Running also improves every component of overall health. It teaches your heart and lungs to breathe more efficiently. It regulates hormones and improves muscle strength. It keeps your body a type of health that prevents excess stress.

Some studies have shown that regular jogging may be as powerful or more powerful than some of the world’s most well-known anxiety medications, all without any side effects. It’s something you should already be doing regularly for your own health, and is an absolute must if you suffer from anxiety.

2. Retrain Breathing

Another issue that often contributes to both anxiety and panic attacks is poor breathing. Many people with anxiety suffer from hyperventilation problems. Anxiety and stress cause the body to breathe a little bit faster. They also cause you to focus too much on your breathing, and try to bring it more air than you need.

Hyperventilation is when you breathe out too much carbon dioxide because of these poor breathing habits, and breathe in too much oxygen. Hyperventilation is also interesting because it makes you feel like you’re not getting enough oxygen, causing you to breathe in more deeply. Unfortunately, this only makes the anxiety and panic attack symptoms worse.

That’s why you should go through a breathing re-training. You can do this through deep breathing exercises, like those learned during yoga. The goal is to slow down your breathing considerably. One method includes:

  • Breathe in through your nose for 5 seconds.
  • Hold for 2 seconds.
  • Breathe out through your mouth for 7 seconds.

There are other types of breathing exercises you can try as well if you’d prefer something more interesting. Performing these exercises for 15 to 30 minutes every day can re-train your body to breathe in a way that prevents hyperventilation, and thus reduces some of the symptoms of anxiety.

3. Check Your Diet

Diet can affect your anxiety levels, although not as much as many people believe. Cutting out oils, trans fats, alcohol and heavy amounts of caffeine are all important. All of these make anxiety symptoms much worse, and the healthier you eat the more likely you’ll experience fewer anxiety symptoms. The healthier you are, the better for all of your mental health needs.

But your diet rarely causes anxiety on its own, unless you’re low on some very important vitamins and minerals. Check your diet to see if you could be lacking in any of the following vitamins:

  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin D

A deficiency in all of these vitamins may cause anxiety symptoms. Magnesium, for example, is lacking in mover 25% of the diets in the United States right now. Adding magnesium supplements or foods can be extremely advantageous.

You should also make sure that you’re drinking enough water. Dehydration can cause significant anxiety and lead to worse anxiety symptoms.

While most people’s diets don’t cause anxiety, they can easily contribute to it. Make sure that you’re eating foods that are rich in the vitamins and minerals you need, and your anxiety may become far more manageable.

Strategies to Try to Cure Anxiety

It’s impossible to say whether or not these strategies will provide you with any instant relief. Some people may find that their anxiety becomes so manageable after trying these important techniques that they don’t need any additional anxiety treatment. Others find that even though they feel better, they still need help.

As long as you’re ready to commit to an anxiety treatment instead of trying one for a few days and moving on to the next, then there are long term strategies that are nearly guaranteed to help you reduce your anxiety.

Find out more by taking my free 7 minute anxiety test now.

Advice on a Healthy Life

“Health is not just the absence of illness.”  Dr. Andrew Weil

This was posted in Lifebook.  I think it holds a lot of advice that is helpful.  It was posted in January 2010, but still holds true now.

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Health:
1. Drink plenty of water.
2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
3. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants, and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
4. Live with the 3 E’s — Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.
5. Make time for prayer and reflection
6. Play more games.
7. Read more books than you did in 2009.

8. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
9. Sleep for 7 hours.

Personality:
10. Take a 10-30 minutes walk every day —- and while you walk, smile.
11. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
12. Don’t have negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
13. Don’t over do; keep your limits.
14. Don’t take yourself so seriously; no one else does.
15. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip.
16. Dream more while you are awake.
17. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
18. Forget issues of the past. Don’t remind your partner with his/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don’t hate others.
20. Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.
21. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
22. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
23. Smile and laugh more.
24. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

Community:
25. Call your family often.
26. Each day give something good to others.
27. Forgive everyone for everything.
28. Spend time with people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.
29. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
30. What other people think of you is none of your business.
31. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your family and friends will. Stay in touch.

Life:
32. Do the right things.
33. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
34. Forgiveness heals everything.
35. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
36. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
37. The best is yet to come.
38. When you awake alive in the morning, don’t take it for granted – embrace life.

39. Your inner most is always happy. So, be happy.

Last but not the least:
40. Enjoy LIFE!

Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) Controlling Medical Costs

Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) Controlling Medical Costs

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In a world where the healthcare system is changing on a daily basis due to sweeping federal changes under the Affordable Healthcare Act, constantly changing technology and an increasingly sick and aging population, most employers are faced with cutting benefits, eliminating benefits, or seeing astronomically high renewal rates.  Bucking this trend is the Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) which was a founding member of Valley Schools over a quarter century ago, which established a purchasing cooperative for school districts to pool their purchasing power to reduce costs.  Starting first with liability insurance, then workers’ compensation, PVUSD moved its healthcare and other employee benefits under the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) nearly ten years ago now, and it has paid dividends.

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Under the trust, PVUSD is able to choose its providers, plans and benefits as an individual district as it always has, while in returning receiving more choices, lower rates and expert consulting from the staff of VSEBT, Aon/Hewitt and Hays Consulting at no additional costs.  This year, starting fiscal year July 1, 2014, PVUSD elected to break out their plan tiering into four tiers from the traditional two tiers which have been in place for several years.  In simpler terms, they went from just single and family, to four levels determining how many are covered under the plan.

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This represented a premium savings for employees who have a spouse or child(ren) only on their plan and only a slight increase for those with more family members.  The district costs are expected to now be a 2.1% reduction from the prior 2013-14 plan year.

Not only are costs going down, but PVUSD was able to expand their preventive drug list for health savings account plan members which means more preventive drugs at a copay prior to meeting their deductible for those on the HDHP plan.  That will provide additional savings to those employees and encourage better health in the long run by making preventive and maintenance drugs more affordable.

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PVUSD also continues to focus on efforts to encourage good consumerism and physician quality, and cost and efficiency.  They implemented the UHC Premium Provider Advantage Plan.  Doctors who are rated both for high quality, satisfaction and efficiency receive two stars in the UHC network directory.  If members choose a Premium Physician, they will have even lower co-pays. This allows the employee to remain in charge of their doctor choices while providing additional options for savings.

Congratulations to PVUSD for its ongoing cutting-edge vision for providing the best quality benefits to its staff and their families while utilizing innovative tools to reduce costs!

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50 Best Snacks Under 50 Calories

50 Best Snacks Under 50 Calories

Satisfy your cravings without putting on a pound

By Keri M. Gans, R.D.

50 best snacks under 50 calories

Photo by: � Comstock

 

Satisfy your sweet tooth

1. 1⁄2 medium apple, baked, topped with 1 Tbsp lowfat yogurt sprinkled with cinnamon (45 calories)

2. 1⁄2 small banana, frozen (45 calories)

3. 4 oz unsweetened applesauce sprinkled with cinnamon (49 calories)

4. 1 miniature box of raisins (45 calories)

5. 2 sugar-free ice pops (30 calories)

6. 1 sugar-free fudge ice pop (35 calories)

7. 12 cherries (48 calories)

8. 1 individual serving sugar-free gelatin with 3 Tbsp light whipped topping (40 calories)

9. 1⁄2 cup strawberries with 21⁄2 Tbsp nonfat yogurt (47 calories)

10. 14 seedless red grapes, frozen (48 calories)

Indulge a salt craving

11. 11⁄2 cups salted air-popped popcorn (46 calories)
12. 1⁄4 cup shelled edamame with sea salt (37 calories)
13. 8 oz miso soup (36 calories)
14. 1 pretzel rod (37 calories)
15. 1⁄4 small bag of Glenny’s lightly salted soy crisps (35 calories)
16. 1 medium sliced cucumber mixed with 1⁄4 cup sliced onion, 1⁄2 cup chopped celery, 4 Tbsp vinegar and salt to taste (45 calories)
17. 6 oz eight-vegetable juice (39 calories)
18. 1 kosher dill pickle (10 calories)

Crunch and munch

19. 1⁄2 cup jicama with 4 oz salsa (49.5 calories)
20. 11⁄2 cups sugar snap peas (40 calories)
21. Small celery stalk smeared with 1⁄2 Tbsp natural peanut butter (49 calories)
22. 1⁄2 small apple with 1 tsp soy butter (46 calories)
23. 1 brown rice cake with 1 Tbsp sugar-free jam (44 calories)

Smooth and creamy

24. 1 Laughing Cow Light Garlic & Herb wedge spread on cucumber slices (35 calories)
25. 1 tsp almond butter (34 calories)
26. 1⁄2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt with 1 tsp sugar-free strawberry jam (43 calories)
27. 1 oz avocado (about 1⁄8 of an avocado) squirted with lime (45 calories)
28. 8 grape tomatoes dipped in 1 Tbsp light cream cheese (46 calories)

Cheesy whizzes

29. 6 pieces of endive filled with 1⁄2 oz reduced-fat feta cheese (49 calories)
30. 1 slice fat-free American cheese (30 calories)
31. 1 large tomato, sliced, topped with 1 Tbsp Parmesan, broiled (44 calories)
32. 1 oz fat-free cottage cheese on 1 slice caraway Finn Crisp Crispbread (38 calories)
33. 1 oz fat-free mozzarella dipped in 1 tsp marinara sauce (46 calories)

Power up on protein

34. Turkey rollups: 2 slices white meat turkey rolled in 2 lettuce leaves (46 calories)
35. 1 oz smoked salmon (about 1 slice) on 2 Wheat Thins crackers (Multi-Grain) (48 calories)
36. 1 tofu dog with 1 Tbsp sauerkraut (48 calories)
37. 1⁄2 cup plain fat-free yogurt sprinkled with 1 tsp sunflower seeds (49.6 calories)
38. 1.3 oz water-packed tuna with 1 tsp Dijon mustard (48 calories)
39. 2 large hard-cooked egg whites with 1 cup sliced cucumber (48 calories)
40. 1 slice Wasa Fibre Crispbread with 2 tsp hummus (45 calories)
41. 1 medium water-packed sardine with slice of red onion (35 calories)

Solid standbys

42. 1⁄2 cup melon with 2 Tbsp 1% cottage cheese (47 calories)
43. 1⁄2 small grapefruit (32 calories)
44. 1⁄3 cup blueberries with 1 Tbsp light sour cream (47 calories)
45. 1⁄2 cup carrots with 1 Tbsp light ranch dressing (45 calories)

Thirst quenchers

46. 1⁄2 cup nonfat milk with 1 Tbsp Walden Farms calorie-free chocolate syrup (40 calories)
47. 1 packet of sugar-free hot chocolate made with 1⁄4 cup skim milk and 3⁄4 cup hot water (47 calories)
48. 3⁄4 cup almond milk (45 calories)
49. 3⁄4 cup seltzer with 1⁄4 cup cranberry juice and a lime wedge (33 calories)
50. Homemade iced green tea (with artificial sweetener if desired) (0 calories)