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Lifestyle Health & Wellness
June 14, 2024

7 desk exercises to stay active at work

5 minutes

These simple but effective desk exercises can be done in your office throughout the day when you take breaks or stand to stretch.

It can be challenging to fit a workout routine into a busy schedule. Even if you regularly spend time at the gym or doing other exercises, there are likely days when you can't do your normal fitness activities.

Those of us who work in offices at a desk job can combat the sedentary lifestyle with office exercises. These simple but effective exercises can be done at your desk when you take a break. In addition to being good for your overall health and well-being, doing some quick exercises throughout the workday will also enhance your productivity.

Importance of staying active during the workday

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone exercise for at least 150 minutes every week. Even if you can only exercise in short bursts during your workday, you can still enjoy these benefits:

  • Decreased body mass index (BMI): Researchers at the University of Utah found that doing exercises for 10 minutes or less can have a positive impact on your BMI. Specifically, every minute of high-intensity exercise done throughout the day can lower obesity odds by up to 2% for men and 5% for women.
  • Mood improvement: One review found that doing short bursts of daily exercise is linked to positive mood changes.
  • Reduced appetite: A study compared exercise programs made up of a dozen 5-minute exercises every day with a program consisting of one hour of exercise. The researchers discovered that participants doing the 5-minute exercise blocks reported 32% less hunger during the day than the participants who exercised for a straight hour.

Fortunately, spending even five or 10 minutes doing easy exercises at your desk can provide stimulation and mid-day blood flow. Here's a bonus: Some easy desk exercises can help you push through the dreaded mid-afternoon slump that occurs after lunch.

Overview of the negative effects of prolonged sitting

Sitting for extended periods can reduce blood flow, which can contribute to stroke or heart attack. Equally concerning, prolonged sitting and other sedentary behaviors are linked to insulin resistance. For these reasons, prolonged sitting bears some of the blame for health conditions that include:

  • Heart disease
  • Weight gain and obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes

One study found that individuals who sit for most of the day even have a 40% increased risk of reduced longevity. In terms of burnout and mental health, a lack of physical activity can increase anxiety, stress levels, and depression risks.

1. Desk push ups

Desk push ups work the chest and triceps.

How to do desk push ups:

  1. Stand and face your desk.
  2. Place the palms of your hands against the desk. Your hands should be just a little bit wider than the width of your shoulders. Keep your arms straight.
  3. Lower yourself as much as you comfortably can, or until you almost reach the desk with your chest.
  4. Return to the start position, and repeat the desk push ups for 10 reps.

2. Calf raises

This exercise works the calves.

How to do calf raises:

  1. Stand up tall, placing your hands on your desk or chair for balance.
  2. Raise your heels slowly off the ground, up on your toes.
  3. Hold the pose for between five and 10 seconds before lowering your heels back to their position on the floor.
  4. Repeat the calf raises 10 times.

3. Back twists

Back twists work the obliques.

How to do back twists:

  1. Sit in a chair that swivels and place your hands on the edge of your desk.
  2. Using your hands, spin as far as possible to one side.
  3. Repeat, switching to the other side.
  4. Do this for 10 reps on each side.

4. Tricep dips

This exercise gives your chest and triceps a workout.

How to do tricep dips:

  1. Place a chair without wheels behind you.
  2. Stand with your back to the chair.
  3. Place the palms of your hands flat on the chair's seat. Your fingers will be facing away from you.
  4. Make sure you keep your heels securely on the ground, keeping your legs out straight in front of you.
  5. Lower yourself towards the ground until your upper arms are nearly parallel to the floor. You can lower yourself as low as is comfortable for you.
  6. Return your body to the start position, and repeat the tricep dips for 10 reps.

5. Wall sit

Wall sits work the core, quads, hamstrings, and glutes.

How to do wall sits:

  1. Stand against a wall with your back flush to the wall.
  2. Slowly slide down toward the floor until your knees and hips are bent at approximately a 90-degree angle.
  3. Hold the position for about 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat the wall sits 10 times.

6. Chair squats

Chair squats strengthen your hips, buttocks, and lower back.

How to do chair squats:

  1. Standing in front of your chair, place your feet with your toes pointing forward and shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend your knees, keeping your head and chest up.
  3. Drive back your hips as if you plan to sit in the chair. You can hold onto your desk if you need help with balance or support for your knees.
  4. Just before your bottom reaches the chair, stop and rise slowly back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat chair squats 10 times.

7. Neck rotations

Neck rotations help alleviate "tech neck," a stiffness that occurs when people sit in front of a computer several hours a day.

How to do neck rotations:

  1. Sitting in your chair, relax  and gently lean your head forward until your chin almost touches your chest.
  2. Roll your head slowly toward one shoulder. Hold the position for 10 seconds.
  3. Repeat the same exercise on your other side.
  4. Relax and move your chin back to the start position.
  5. Repeat neck rotations three times for each shoulder.

Strategies for staying motivated to exercise at work with Evidation

Evidation is an excellent tool to help you reach your activity and fitness goals. Try some of these strategies for staying motivated to move more and get some mini-workouts done while at your desk.

  • Set SMART goals: SMART is an acronym for goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
  • Track your progress: With Evidation, you can monitor your progress toward your goals. When you see your achievements, you'll feel motivated to keep up the good work.
  • Set reminders: Scheduling your five-minute workouts ensures you'll stop to do the desk exercises. 
  • Enable notifications: If you use wearable tech, consider enabling notifications that remind you to stand for five minutes every hour.
  • Find a fitness buddy: Start a fitness challenge with your coworkers using the Evidation app.

Conclusion

Integrating these exercises into your daily routine can have a huge impact on your overall quality of life. Evidation offers support in reaching your fitness goals. Download the app today to start tracking healthy activities and earning reward points.

Lifestyle Health & Wellness
May 17, 2024

Skin care for the summer season: 5 tips to save your skin

4 minutes

Incorporating antioxidants, choosing cooling skincare ingredients, and drinking plenty of water can all help to boost your skin care for the summer season.

At Evidation, it's our job to help you take care of your mind and body—and that includes your body's largest organ, the skin. From eating plenty of skin-smart foods to getting the water that you need, Evidation can help you take the steps necessary to create a natural glow, and integrating skincare tips into your Evidation experience can help you take great care of your skin all year round.

Beaming UV rays and high humidity levels in the summer can wreak havoc on your skin. Thankfully, there are some simple steps you can take to maintain great skin health throughout the warmer months. Here, we'll take a look at how you can take care of your skin while enjoying all that summer has to offer.

Sun Safety

You already know that staying safe in the sun is key for protecting your skin from cancer, but the benefits of proper summer skincare don't stop there. Applying sunscreen effectively and regularly can also help save you from painful sunburns, and can reduce the signs of aging that are exacerbated by exposure to the sun.

Try these tips to keep your skin healthy in the summer sun:

  • Apply sunscreen often. Dermatologists recommend that you apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher at least every two hours. Reapplication is especially key if you're swimming or sweating, and yes—you need sunscreen even when it's cloudy outside.
  • Avoid the sun between 10 am and 2 pm. The sun is at its strongest during these hours. Opt to stay inside (or at least in the shade) if possible.
  • Cool off. After enjoying a day in the sun, take a cool shower and wash off any remaining sweat and sunscreen. In the event that you do get sunburned, it's a good idea to apply aloe vera gel while your skin moves through the healing process.

Hydration and moisturization strategies

Hydration is already a part of your self-care routine, and if you're already using Evidation, you likely take advantage of our reminders to drink up. In the summer, hydration and moisturization are key to helping your skin stay healthy.

Men should drink at least 104 ounces of water each day, and women should drink at least 72 ounces. If you're spending a lot of time outdoors, exercising heavily, are pregnant, or have other health conditions, you may need more water to keep your skin healthy. Drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning and continuing to sip throughout the day can be a smart way to stay on top of your hydration goals.

Moisturization is key in the hot summer months. If you're currently using a heavy moisturizing cream, switching to a light lotion can be a smart way to hydrate your skin and stay comfortable.

Gentle cleansing techniques

The sweat, sunscreen, and humidity of summer may mean that you need to wash your face more often than normal in order to feel comfortable. Using foaming or gel-based cleansers (paired with a light moisturizer) can help you effectively clean your skin without stripping away your natural protective oils.

Incorporating antioxidants into skincare

Antioxidants help to slow the skin's natural aging process, and can be especially helpful in the summer months. Many people find that incorporating antioxidants into their skincare routines can help to lessen the appearance of loose skin, blotches, fine lines, and wrinkles.

Antioxidants to look for in your skincare routine include:

  • Vitamin C
  • Resveratrol
  • Niacinamide
  • Retinol (vitamin A)
  • Coenzyme Q10
  • Vitamin E
  • Polyphenols

Using cooling ingredients and products

After a day in the heat, there's not much that feels better than going through a skincare routine loaded with cooling products. While cooling products don't actually reduce the temperature of the skin, they do affect the nerves responsible for messaging temperature changes to the brain. This means that you get fast, effective relief the moment your cooling products hit your skin.

Skincare ingredients that can help you beat the heat include:

  • Cucumber
  • Peppermint
  • Eucalyptus
  • Aloe vera
  • Menthol

Pro tip: If you can, stow your skincare products in the fridge. You'll get a de-puffing effect that feels fantastic.

Managing sweat and oil production

One of the best parts of summer is exercising outdoors, but working up a sweat in the sun may not be great for your skin. If you have oily skin, or spend a lot of time sweating outdoors, it's important to take steps to combat breakouts caused by sweat and oil.

Changing out of sweaty clothes as soon as possible can help, as can choosing lightweight cotton clothing. If you wear a hat to protect your face from the sun when you're outdoors (smart!), be sure to wash it regularly. You'll also want to pay attention to potential breakout triggers. For some people, the combination of summer sweat and chlorine, saltwater, and/or sand can cause skin problems.

Addressing specific skin concerns for summer

Some skin issues, like acne, may occur more frequently or with more severity in the summer. Some common hot-weather skin issues and solutions include:

  • Acne: When you're done exercising, blot sweat away with a clean towel. Wash headbands and towels every time you use them.
  • Dry skin: Consider turning off the AC at night, as it can dry out your skin. Turn down the temperature of your showers or baths to help your skin retain moisture.
  • Heat rash: Blocked sweat glands can cause heat to build up in your body, resulting in a prickly-feeling rash. Wearing loose-fitting clothes and staying indoors when it's especially hot outside can help.
  • Melasma: A condition that causes some areas of the skin to appear darker, melasma often gets worse with sun exposure. Be sure to use fragrance-free sunscreen, as fragrance may cause melasma to darken.

If you're having persistent summer skin issues that don't respond to home remedies, reach out to your healthcare provider for evaluation and treatment.

Evidation: Helping You Glow All Summer Long

At Evidation, we use the health data you're already tracking (with your permission) to provide you with the personalized information and insights that you need to be your healthiest, happiest self. We'd love to show you what we're all about. Click here to download the app and learn more about how you can get started.

Lifestyle Health & Wellness
May 8, 2024

Youth mental health: common adolescent issues and ways to support your children

5 minutes

Creating an open environment for conversation, keeping an eye out for warning signs, and getting your adolescent professional help can all support their mental health.

There's no way around it: being a parent can be devastatingly difficult, especially when your child is struggling. Recognizing, understanding, and addressing mental health issues in children isn't just an important part of your role as a parent – it can literally be life-saving.

Here, we'll explore common mental health issues experienced in adolescence, signs and symptoms that you'll want to keep an eye out for, ways to talk with your teen about their mental health, and how you can help your teen when they're struggling with their emotional and mental well-being.

Understanding common mental health issues in adolescence

In many ways, it's harder than ever to be a teen. Mental health issues are incredibly common in adolescents – it's estimated that nearly half of all teens have experienced a mental health disorder at some point in their lives.

There are many factors that contribute to teen mental health issues in today's world, including:

  • Academic and athletic pressure
  • Bullying
  • Lack of coping skills
  • Family mental health
  • Financial instability
  • Gender and sexual orientation
  • Inability to access high-quality food, shelter, and health care
  • Phone addiction
  • Social media
  • Relationship and friendship issues

Mental health is individual, and different factors affect adolescents in different ways. In addition to external factors, other issues like temperament, genetics, personality, and sensitivity levels can all affect your teen's mental health.

While it's important to recognize your teen as an individual with a unique mental health situation, it can also be helpful to be aware of some of the most common mental health issues experienced by adolescents.

Common mental health conditions experienced in adolescence include:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Conduct disorder
  • Oppositional-defiant disorder
  • Panic attacks
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Signs and symptoms to watch out for

Knowing what's normal for your child – and being able to notice when they deviate from their mental health norms – can be vital in recognizing problems and helping your child get the support that they need. Biological, social, and intellectual changes that occur naturally during adolescence can make it tough to identify mental health changes, and keeping an open dialogue with your teen can help you identify issues (more on that shortly).

Signs and symptoms of mental health disorders in adolescents can include:

  • Loss of interest in social, athletic, and academic activities
  • Changes in sleeping and eating patterns
  • Canceling plans with close friends without explanation
  • Significant changes to their social group
  • New academic struggles
  • Constant or near-constant worrying
  • Obsession with a goal that leaves little room for other activities
  • Signs of drug use, alcohol use, or sexual activity
  • Signs of self-harm (many teens attempt to disguise signs of self-harm by wearing long sleeves and long pants)

Effective communication strategies with teens about mental health

Tackling tough topics with teens can feel akin to trying to nail Jell-O to a tree. That being said, practice makes perfect, and remaining persistent in reaching out to your teen to talk about their mental health can help them understand that you care and aren't going anywhere.

A few key tips that can help you keep the lines of communication open with your adolescent include:

  • Listen to understand, not to respond. When you're having a conversation with your teen about your concerns, it's important to stay curious while working to learn more about what they're dealing with. Reflecting your teen's feelings back to them to be sure you understand before responding can help your teen feel heard, safe, and understood.
  • Don't be afraid to sit in discomfort. When your child is going through a crisis (a breakup, a falling out with a friend, an academic disappointment), don't try to problem-solve in the moment. Instead, sit with them in the discomfort, listen to them as they process their experience, and let them know that you're going to work through the crisis together.
  • Normalize your child's experiences. When adolescents go through mental health struggles, they can feel incredibly lonely, and it can be hard for them to believe that anyone has ever been through a similar mental health experience and has come out on the other side. Assuring your child that their feelings are valid, that they're not the first person to feel this way, and allowing them to share openly, without shame or judgment, can help them keep coming back to talk with you about their feelings.

Creating a supportive environment at home

Developing an environment conducive to open communication can help your teen speak up when something goes wrong. Making yourself available to your teen without pushing them to share can create plenty of opportunities for discussion when they feel ready to talk. Positively managing your own emotions (and talking to your teen in an age-appropriate way about your own mental health) can help your teen gain a sense of safety and trust when it comes to discussing difficult issues.

Seeking professional help: when and how

If your teen is thinking about suicide, it's important to get them immediate, nonjudgmental support. Go to your local emergency room, or call or text 988, the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

If your teen is dealing with mental health symptoms that are not an emergency, making an appointment with a licensed adolescent therapist or counselor can provide your teen with the support they need. Don't press your teen to share what they've discussed in therapy, unless they want to do so.

Nurturing resilience and coping skills in adolescents

Talking with your teen about self-care can help to bolster their resilience and create the confidence necessary to ask for help. Simply spending time with your teen, following consistent daily routines, and discussing the coping skills that work well for you can help your teen begin to pay attention to the strategies and habits that will work to support their mental health.

You can make a difference for your teen

Researching information about how to support your teen's mental health means that you're already headed in the right direction. Knowing what to look for, keeping an open dialogue, and providing your teen with the personal support and/or professional help that they need can help them develop the coping strategies they need to thrive. At Evidation, we're here to support you and your family's physical and mental health with personalized tips and insights to keep you moving forward – click here to learn more and download the app. Remember, when your child asks for help, it's a sign of strength – not weakness. Celebrating your teen's courage in speaking up about mental health issues can help cement their ability to advocate for themselves.

Lifestyle Health & Wellness
May 1, 2024

Why is mental health important for enhancing quality of life?

5 minutes

Our mental health has a profound impact on every area of our lives, from personal relationships to finding professional success.

Most people experience mental health challenges, whether occasionally or frequently. A mental health challenge may present as a small bump on our life journey or manifest as a full-blown crisis. It's important to understand that mental health is about more than just our emotions and happiness. In the world we live in, mental health is a crucial part of how we navigate life.

Why is mental health important? Our mental health has a profound impact on every area of our lives, from personal relationships to finding professional success. Placing emphasis on mental health gives us all a better chance at living our best lives and navigating effectively when life throws us curveballs. Overall life satisfaction and mental well-being are interconnected. Just as we care for our bodies, understanding and caring for our mental health helps us live our best lives.

What is mental health?

Mental health is a state of wellness that helps us cope with life's stresses, realize our potential and abilities, contribute to our communities, and learn well. In addition to psychological well-being, mental health includes our social and emotional well-being as well.

More than simply the absence of mental illnesses, mental health is much more complex. Everyone experiences mental health differently, with varying degrees of distress and difficulty. Equally important, different clinical and social outcomes have an effect on mental health.

Why is mental health important for overall health?

As an integral health component of well-being and overall health, mental health underpins our collective and individual abilities to function at optimal levels. This includes:

  • Making decisions
  • Handling stress
  • Staying active
  • Building and improving relationships
  • Increasing self-esteem
  • Being motivated
  • Pursuing educational or professional goals
  • Relating to other people
  • Thinking more clearly
  • Increasing productivity
  • Making healthy choices and informed decisions
  • Shaping the world we inhabit

What about being physically active and physically healthy? Exercise and physical activity are affected by mental health. Findings show people who exercise have fewer poor mental health days than people who don't exercise. Notably, all types of exercise are associated with decreased mental health problems.

Mental health can also have an impact on diet. When a person has positive mental health, they're more likely to have or make the time to prepare healthy meals for themselves and their families.

Can mental health change over time?

A person's mental health can definitely change over time. These changes depend on a variety of factors that include physical health, life satisfaction, coping abilities, and available resources.

Life circumstances can also affect mental health and add stress to our lives. For example, becoming a caregiver for a family member can affect mental health. Financial hardship also impacts mental health, along with working too many hours. Alternatively, the alleviation of any of these issues can have a positive effect on mental health.

The environment also plays a role in mental health. Seasonal changes can exacerbate mental health issues. For example, seasonal affective disorder is associated with decreased mental health in winter. Many people who live in northern climates experience seasonal affective disorder in the fall or winter.

How mental health can affect other conditions

Why should mental health be taken seriously? There is a clear and proven distinction between mental and physical health. According to The Centers for Disease Control, mental illness can increase our risk for a myriad of physical health problems or impact our ability to manage these serious conditions.

Lifespan

The average lifespan of individuals in the U.S. is significantly affected by serious mental illness. Despite the steady increase in life expectancy among Americans to 78.6 years old, individuals living with severe mental illnesses typically experience a lifespan ranging between 49 and 60 years

One contributing factor to this reduced life expectancy among individuals with mental health conditions is the prevalence of suicide, which stands as the second leading cause of death among people aged 10 to 34. Within the general population, suicide ranked as the eleventh leading cause of death in 2021, resulting in the loss of more than 48,100 American lives. 

However, it's important to recognize that poor mental health also exacerbates serious health conditions and chronic diseases, thereby further shortening the lifespan of certain individuals.

If you or someone you know is struggling. Help is available. The National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline number is 988. Deaf and hard of hearing people using TTY can reach this hotline by dialing 711, then 988.

Chronic diseases

The mental health discussion should include how mental health affects physical health. NAMI reports a 40% increased risk of heart disease and other metabolic diseases in people with depression. Additionally, people living with chronic diseases such as these are at greater risk for depression:

  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Diabetes
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Epilepsy
  • Cancer

Specifically, a research study suggests people with a chronic disease and depression are prone to experiencing more severe symptoms of both illnesses. The study also indicates that mental illness makes it more challenging to adapt to a chronic disease. 

‌Sleep problems

Most people know sleep can impact our mental health. If we have a restless night or live with insomnia, we're less effective during our waking hours. However, mental health also directly affects healthy sleep.

  • Depression: About 75% of people with depression have symptoms of insomnia. As a result, people with depression have the added burden of daytime sleepiness.
  • Seasonal affective disorder: Seasonal affective disorder is tied closely to the disruption of a person's circadian rhythm, the internal biological clock that controls sleep and several bodily processes. For this reason, people who live with seasonal affective disorder may sleep either too little or too much.
  • Anxiety disorders: In the U.S., anxiety disorders affect approximately 20% of adults, and these disorders are strongly associated with problems sleeping. In this situation, sleep problems often become an added source of anxiety, which creates anticipatory anxiety when it's time to go to sleep.
  • Bipolar disorder: In bipolar disorder, sleep patterns change frequently, and problems with sleep can worsen or even induce both manic and depressive periods.
  • Schizophrenia: People who live with schizophrenia have an increased likelihood of experiencing circadian rhythm disorders or insomnia.
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD): People with ASD are more likely to experience sleep problems, including sleep-disordered breathing and insomnia.

Concentration problems

Being unable to concentrate affects nearly every aspect of a person's life. Many mental health conditions have an impact on our ability to concentrate. This can create issues in our interpersonal relationships, as well as in school or work. Alternatively, mentally healthy people have an increased chance of fulfilling their potential in these areas.

Substance abuse disorders

Adults in the U.S. who are living with a mental illness have a 33.5% chance of experiencing a substance use disorder, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. While this can include illicit or illegal drugs and substances, abuse of legal substances such as tobacco, alcohol, and controlled substances can also have an impact on physical health.

Conclusion

Taking active steps toward improving mental health gives us a head start to living a balanced and fulfilling life. Help and support are available, and mental health can improve with treatments such as therapy and medication. Evidation can help you track and monitor both mental and physical health while also earning points. With Evidation, you're empowered to make the most informed decisions about your mental health and overall well-being. Try Evidation today by downloading the app and getting started on your journey to the best version of you.

Lifestyle Health & Wellness
April 29, 2024

How meditation can help seniors sleep better: expert insights

4 minutes

Sleep is essential for physical and mental health. However, many seniors don't get the right kind and amount of sleep. Meditation can help.

Getting enough sleep is essential for overall health and well-being. However, many seniors suffer from persistent slumber issues. In fact, chronic sleep problems affect 40% to 70% of people aged 66 years and above.

Seniors with sleep problems often wake up tired the next day, but that isn’t the biggest concern. These problems can escalate to various physical and mental health conditions over time. The CDC reports that sleep disturbances are linked to chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression.

Fortunately, there are options to help seniors get a better night’s sleep. Meditation is one of the most natural and effective ways to improve sleep quality - and not just for seniors. 

Meditation is a mental-quieting practice that involves breathing techniques and utmost focus. It can provide a drug-free way to help fix sleep problems. How? It can regulate the body's natural sleep processes and promote a deeply relaxed state.  

Not sure where to start with using meditation for better sleep? Fret not; this page covers the transformative power of meditation for sound slumber. Read on to learn how it can help you or your senior loved ones sleep better.

1. Meditation increases melatonin production 

Melatonin levels are crucial for controlling the sleep-wake cycle. As people age, these levels tend to decrease, making it more and more difficult for seniors to fall and stay asleep at night. However, many seniors can benefit from meditation to boost their melatonin production.

Meditating activates the pineal gland and the entire corpora quadragemina. Located at the center of the brain, this gland is responsible for generating melatonin, which is vital for sleep. Through focused concentration and breathing, meditation gets the pineal working to pump out more melatonin to cue the body that it's time for rest.

Aaron Charlton, Health, Science & Travel Writer at Away Clinic, suggests practicing meditation. "It can help increase melatonin production and regulate stress. It controls stress like cortisol and cytokine levels, which can potentially suppress melatonin." 

Charlton explains, "Seniors who incorporate meditation into their nightly routine discover they can sleep more quickly and soundly. Not only do they have a more restful sleep, but they also wake up feeling more energized."

2. Meditation reduces stress and anxiety 

Stress and anxiety often  cause sleep difficulties, which is especially the case for many seniors. However, meditation can be an effective strategy for overcoming these unsettling mental conditions and can be a vital part of seniors' stress management techniques.

Various studies show that mindful meditation can help reduce stress and anxiety. It triggers the body's relaxation response, regulating blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing. As such, it can significantly decrease the symptoms of stress, rumination, and worry among seniors.

Sam O'Brien, Founder and Chief at WaterSportsWhiz, explains, "Meditation gradually creates resistance to everyday stresses. There will be less mental chatter in the evening, so seniors can relax better and doze off to a good sleep. Ultimately, the tranquility of the mind is key to sound sleep."

Further, Olivier Poirier-Leroy, Owner and Editor of YourWorkoutBook, recommends the meditation practice. "Sit in a comfortable position, close one's eyes, and focus on anything, such as your breath. Through meditation, older adults can teach their minds to be less preoccupied with the past or the future and be more in the present."

3. Meditation regulates circadian rhythm

The circadian rhythm is the internal "timekeeper" of the human body since it controls the sleep-wake cycle. However, as seniors age, they find it hard to get sleep at night and stay awake throughout the day. Meditation can help support and strengthen these fundamental biological cycles.

Research shows that meditation practices affect brain functions, causing regulatory changes in various mental states, such as sleep. Specifically, it improves the brain sections involved in circadian rhythms. Reinforcing these 'command centers' strengthens the circadian rhythms.

Danelle Ferreira, Crystal Specialist at AllCrystal, emphasizes the positive impact of meditation on the circadian rhythm. "Seniors with healthy circadian rhythms experience drowsiness as soon as they go to bed because their brains are sending signals to shut down." 

Ferreira argues, "With daily practice, they can use the benefits of meditation to create sleep patterns in line with the daylight and the nighttime. That results in a more peaceful and restful sleep.”

The power of meditation for better sleep for seniors

Sleep is essential for physical and mental health. However, many seniors don't get the right kind and amount of sleep. Worse, some battle with insomnia and other sleep issues. That's where meditation can help as an inexpensive and drug-free remedy.

As discussed, meditation can help increase melatonin production, reduce stress and anxiety, as well as regulate the circadian rhythm. It can assist seniors in falling asleep more quickly, staying asleep longer, and waking up with greater energy. Harness the power of meditation, and it can ultimately promote good health and overall well-being!

Even a 5-minute meditation session before bed can greatly benefit seniors. Apps for mindfulness meditation, body scans, mild yoga, and breath-focused meditation are excellent options. Try the Evidation app today to track your sleep and monitor your health!

Lifestyle Health & Wellness
April 26, 2024

9 easy exercises to do at home and how to stay motivated with Evidation

10 minutes

A whole body exercise routine at home can be as good for you as a trip to the gym.

One of the keys to maintaining an active lifestyle and healthy living is to move more. Whether we're hitting the gym, enjoying a walk in the park, or going for a brisk morning run, any type of movement can benefit our overall health. But what if you want to get in a quick workout without leaving the house? You might be pressed for time on a day when every minute counts. Or maybe you don't have easy access to a gym facility. Are there some easy exercises to do at home?

Fortunately, you don't have to do an intense home workout to improve your overall fitness and health. And you don't need a dedicated room in your home for gym equipment, either. You can enjoy great workouts without equipment. A whole body exercise routine at home can be as good for you as a trip to the gym. Let's dive in and explore some ideas for moving more from the comfort of home.

Benefits of exercising at home

Why work out at home? The most obvious benefit of an easy or intense home workout is the convenience. How perfect is it to get in an effective workout without having to commute to the nearest gym? Besides convenience, you can also enjoy these benefits that come with a daily workout at home.

Cost-effective

Second to convenience, there's no question that a daily workout at home is easier on your budget than a costly gym membership. Besides the membership cost, working out at the gym might also include expenses for parking, gas if you drive, public transportation costs, or stylish workout clothing.

Flexible

When working out at home, you don't have to commit to a class schedule or the operating hours at the gym. In fact, you can work out in shifts or break up your exercise routine if that's what works for you.

Comfortable

In your own home, you have total control of your atmosphere. You get to select the music you like without having to wear earbuds. Also, you can create an ambiance that enhances your workout. Perhaps best of all, a home workout allows you to adjust the thermostat to whatever temperature you want.

Private

At the gym, you're bound to interact with other people. And sometimes that's not what we want. Working out at home gives you the freedom to get into your own zone without worrying about offending the well-meaning lady on the treadmill next to you who wants to chat. Equally important, there is no judgment when working out at home. You can wear whatever you want, and you don't have to worry about how other people think of you and your workout.

Versatile

We're going to share some ideas below for easy exercises to do at home, but you can also tap into the vast array of online video exercises. With a plethora of internet exercise videos available, you can participate in your own private fitness class whenever you want.

Hygenic

The reality is exercise is messy. If we're exercising effectively, there is going to be some sweat. There's no way around it. At the gym, it's virtually impossible to not be exposed to germs from our fellow fitness enthusiasts. At home, you'll still sweat, but you only have to worry about your own sweat, giving you a more sanitary exercise experience.

Time-saving

One of the biggest benefits of doing easy workouts at home is saving time. You don't have to spend a lot of time preparing a gym bag, driving to the gym, parking, and changing. Also, you can take a quick shower after your workout without having to wait in line.

Importance of staying motivated for consistent workouts

The key to meeting your fitness goal is consistency and staying motivated. Working out at home leaves you with less wriggle room for excuses. For example, if you have to leave your house to exercise, it can be tempting to skip a day if the weather is cold or rainy. Or maybe you've had a difficult day and dread the thought of having to put on a smile and be around other people.

Home workouts give you an excuse-free zone. Best of all, you can fit the workout into your schedule, even opting for a few minutes of exercise here and there. After all, all you have to do is walk to your designated exercise area. And you never have to worry about your favorite exercise class being full.

To make sure you're staying consistent in your exercise routine, follow these tips:

  • Choose exercises you enjoy: You're more likely to exercise consistently if you're doing your favorite workouts.
  • Minimize distractions: Ideally, you’ll find a time and place to exercise with as few distractions as possible. If watching a TV show while exercising helps you be consistent, that's great. However, if any type of media distracts you, it may be best to turn it off before you start working out.
  • Do mini workouts to make it work for your schedule: The flipside of not being distracted by your laundry list is fitting your exercise into the rest of your schedule. Studies show that breaking exercise up into smaller chunks of time is just as effective as a long workout. For instance, instead of doing one 30-minute intense home workout, you can break up your workouts into three 10-minute workouts.
  • Block out exercise time: Mini-workouts don’t work in every situation. Some people benefit by blocking out time just for exercise. When possible, schedule your exercise time if your daily routine requires it. 

Importance of rest and recovery in the fitness journey

It's important to keep in mind that exercising at home has the same risks as working out at the gym, whether you're doing an intense home workout or following along with a relaxing yoga video. Also, just because you're working out at home doesn't mean you don't need a rest day.

Here are some reasons why it's important to put some emphasis on rest and recovery:

Are you ready to learn more about some of the best easy exercises to do at home? Read on.

1. Planking

Planking is great for doing at home, and offers many benefits, including working core muscles such as the abs, obliques, and transversus abdominis. Also, planking can activate related muscles like your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.

In addition to working your core muscle groups, planking can also:

To do a plank, go to the floor and get into a pushup position. Then, raise up on your arms and hold your body in an in-line, straight position that resembles a plank of wood.

2. Walking up the stairs

Walking alone is a great whole-body exercise. However, if you have stairs either inside your home or outside, you've got the perfect exercise equipment built into your home. Best of all, when you walk up the stairs, you need no further exercise equipment.

When accumulated over the course of a day, stair climbing can make a significant contribution to your daily whole body exercise routine. Stair climbers have a higher aerobic capacity and are generally more fit. Taking the stairs twice a day can lead to about six pounds of weight loss in a year, according to Duke University researchers. The same study says stair climbing helps to build and maintain healthy muscles, bones, and joints.

3. Yoga

Dedicated yoga practitioners know how rewarding yoga or pilates can be, but the health benefits of this ancient and complex form of exercise are also well-documented by science and research. Most people who enjoy yoga love the vibe of a yoga class, but you can also do yoga at home thanks to the availability of yoga videos online.

If you don't have time to watch a yoga video, you can also practice some basic yoga poses. All you need is a comfortable spot to get down on the floor. A yoga mat makes yoga even more comfortable.

Beyond the yoga mat, yoga may also provide these benefits, according to Harvard Health:

  • Mindful eating
  • Better body image
  • Weight loss and maintenance boost
  • Fitness enhancement
  • Cardiovascular benefits
  • Increased overall quality of life

4. Pushups

In 2019, researchers studied pushups in male firefighters, and the study found these firefighters had a lower risk of stroke and heart attack. Pushups work many of the body's muscles, including the pectoralis minor, triceps, anterior deltoids, and core muscle groups. For this reason, pushups may improve overall body composition, which can lead to fat loss.

To do a standard pushup, assume a high-plank position. Then, raise your body up and down using your arms. Allow your elbows to flare out at 45-degree angles.

Knee pushups can be as effective as traditional pushups. Additionally, knee pushups allow you to build up strength before you attempt a standard pushup practice.

  1. From your knees, get into the high plank position.
  2. From your head to your knees, maintain a straight line, bending your elbows as you lower yourself to the floor. Maintain the 45-degree angle with your elbows.
  3. To start, push back up.

Other types of pushups include wall pushups, incline pushups, decline pushups, weighted pushups, and one-arm pushups.

5. Dance

One of the most fun ways to exercise is dancing. In addition to the positive physical aspects of dance, studies show dancing has psychological benefits. Moreover, a study published in Sports Medicine demonstrated that structured dance of any type is typically as effective as other physical activity types.

When working out at home, you can literally dance like no one is watching because if you're home alone, no one is. Dance along to your favorite playlist, or find some fun dance exercise videos online.

6. HIIT

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) isn't just for the gym. Multiple studies have shown the effectiveness of HIIT exercises for both fitness and cardio benefits. The good news is you can do most HIIT exercises at home without equipment. These include:

  • Pushup
  • Burpee
  • Squat with overhead press
  • Russian twist
  • Mountain climber
  • Jumping jack
  • Bent-over row
  • Kettlebell swing
  • Lunge
  • Plank and plank jack

7. Shoulder presses

With shoulder presses, you can strengthen your shoulder muscles while also increasing their size. This includes the triceps. Shoulder presses help when you want to improve your ability to perform everyday tasks, such as placing items on an overhead shelf or putting dishes away in a high cabinet.

If you want to add shoulder presses to an intense home workout, you'll benefit from either a dumbbell shoulder press or a shoulder press machine. However, you can also use small dumbbells to do basic shoulder presses.

Simply put, an overhead press is a movement in which you push resistance over your head. You can achieve this in a few different ways:

  • One hand at a time
  • Both hands at the same time
  • A single barbell you hold by both hands
  • A free weight not attached to a piece of equipment in each hand

8. Tae Bo

Tae Bo incorporates taekwondo and boxing, hence the abbreviated name "Tae Bo." This unique exercise routine enjoyed its heyday in the 1990s when exercise guru Billy Blanks reached millions of fitness enthusiasts and beginners with VHS tapes. Tae Bo was specifically designed for a home workout, and it remains one of the easiest ways to get into a solid cardio workout routine in the comfort of your own home.

You don't have to dust off that old VCR in your attic to get back into Tae Bo. Thanks to the internet, you can find countless videos online to follow along with. If you want to enjoy the comfort of home while also engaging with others, some Tae Bo enthusiasts connect via Zoom to enjoy a good workout.

9. Squats and lunges

Squats are a functional exercise that can help prevent injuries, boost your calorie burn, improve your posture and balance, and strengthen your core. Specifically, squats can help power you through essential daily tasks that include stair climbing, walking, carrying heavy loads, and bending. Squats also support back muscles.

A fundamental movement pattern, squats require muscle and joint integration. Primarily, squats target these muscles:

  • Quadriceps
  • Gluteus minimus, maximus, and medius
  • Adductor (groin)
  • Hamstrings
  • Calves
  • Hip flexors

If you have knee injuries or pain, you can still do squats. Consider chair squats.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart in front of a chair.
  2. Bend your knees and hinge at the hips, lowering down and back until your bottom makes contact with the chair. Keep your arms extended in front of you.
  3. Use your heels to push up and return to the start position.

Utilizing Evidation to track progress and stay motivated

Building some of the exercises we listed into your daily workout at home can be either your regular workout or an occasional alternative to going to the gym. Using the Evidation app and platform will help you stay motivated as you track your progress.

Evidation can connect to your favorite fitness apps, including apps such as Fitbit, MyFitnessPal, Apple Health, Runkeeper, and more. With these apps, Evidation can help you track many of your health stats, including heart rate, steps taken, and exercise. Download the app today to learn more and start tracking your fitness journey.

Lifestyle Health & Wellness
April 17, 2024

How to reduce anxiety immediately: 5 quick strategies to relax, backed by Evidation

5 minutes

Learn how to quickly reduce anxiety and stress using these five effective relaxation strategies.

Anxiety is one of the most common and debilitating mental health conditions in the world, with over 300 million people living with anxiety disorders today. Our fast-paced and often chaotic lifestyles are breeding grounds for anxiety and stress, making it critical to educate people on how they can manage these conditions.

Whether you’re living with an anxiety disorder or you experience it on occasion, knowing how to address it quickly and effectively can make a significant difference. Wondering how to reduce anxiety immediately? Keep reading for five quick relaxation techniques that work.

How to quickly and effectively reduce anxiety

Anxiety can be crippling, but there are many ways to effectively manage it so you can refocus and continue with your day. Knowing the tools for dealing with anxiety can make all the difference. Here are five research-based strategies that can help you relax.

1. Deep breathing exercises

There’s a reason we always remind ourselves to “take a deep breath” whenever we’re feeling stressed, nervous, or panicked. The power of breath helps calm the nervous system, particularly the body’s fight or flight response, which is often triggered when we are in stressful situations. Our adrenaline kicks into high gear and can leave us feeling anxious and irritable, even after the anxiety has subsided.

When you focus your energy on breathing deeply, the central nervous system can relax as you breathe in more oxygen, bringing the body back to a rested state. As you slow your mind and your body down, you become more aware, centered, and present.

Tips to practice deep breathing

We recommend practicing deep breathing exercises before you’re in a stressful situation so you have some understanding of what to do. Take a seat in a comfortable chair and practice breathing slowly through your nose. Feel the oxygen fill your lungs as your chest rises. Slowly exhale the breath and repeat a few times.

This practice helps combat nervousness, stress, and anxiety that you may experience at work, at school, with your children, or in any other situation throughout the day.

2. Progressive muscle relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is an effective approach to relaxing the muscles that carry the physical weight of anxiety, including the neck, shoulders, jaw, back, and core.

PMR teaches us how to relax our bodies by alternating between tension and relaxation through the major muscle groups. Here’s how to practice progressive muscle relaxation:

  • Sit in a chair or lie down in a comfortable position
  • Take a deep breath, and contract one muscle group, like your thighs or calves, for 5 to 10 seconds
  • Exhale and quickly release the tension
  • Relax for ten to 20 seconds, then move on to the next muscle
  • Repeat until you’ve contracted and released each muscle group throughout your body

Through PMR, individuals learn how their muscles feel when they’re relaxed compared to how they feel when they’re tense. Over time, this practice will help to identify the stress signals in your body and how focused muscle relaxation can reduce stress.

3. Mindfulness and meditation techniques

Mindfulness teaches us to be fully present and aware of what’s going on, without feeling panic or stress in the moment. It encourages an inner stillness that many of us don’t know we have because we’re so caught up in our busy, chaotic lives. Mastering mindfulness takes practice, but those who make the effort learn to control their response to anxiety-inducing situations.

Meditation has long been touted as one of the most effective holistic approaches to combating anxiety, stress, and burnout. Anyone who searches “how to reduce anxiety naturally” will likely come across meditation techniques as a recommendation. It’s a powerful tool because it allows you to step away from the chaos and stress of your life to a safe, calm space where your body and mind can relax.

Guided meditation, PMR, breath awareness meditation, and body scan meditation are common and effective meditation techniques that people find most helpful when they’re dealing with stress or anxiety.

4. Visualization and guided imagery

Visualization and guided imagery are used to reduce anxiety and the negative emotions associated with it. By using visualization techniques (like picturing yourself on a tropical island), you allow your mind and body to fully relax in a place you feel safe and comfortable.

To practice guided imagery, find a quiet place and close your eyes. Picture a relaxing place, like a beach, lake, the mountains, or anywhere that feels peaceful to you. Imagine yourself feeling calm and relaxed.

Focus on the scene, whether it’s the sun on your skin, the breeze on the water, or birds chirping nearby. Remain here until you feel fully relaxed, acknowledging that you can come here anytime you feel anxious.

Visualization allows individuals to create positive outcomes for scenarios they are facing. Whether you’re stressed about a big presentation, nervous about a job interview, or any other situation that’s causing you anxiety, guided imagery allows you to see the positive outcomes rather than the worst possible scenario.

5. Sensory-based relaxation methods

Tapping into the senses is a great way to relax and re-center when experiencing anxiety. The sensory and nervous systems are intertwined, and many calming activities work to reduce stress and promote calm. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, here are some sensory-based relaxation methods to try:

  • Use a weighted blanket to apply deep pressure to the body
  • Listen to nature sounds or classical music
  • Diffuse calming essential oils for aromatherapy practice
  • Practice yoga or stretching to release tension

Bonus tips: Quick stress-busting physical activities

Exercise increases endorphins, improves mood, and reduces the negative effects of stress. Here are a few stress-busting activities to try when you’re stressed:

  • Pilates, yoga, or Tai Chi
  • Rowing or cycling
  • Swimming
  • Boxing
  • Walking

Final thoughts

In a world plagued by anxiety, it’s more important than ever to have the resources and knowledge to incorporate these relaxation strategies into our daily lives. This way, if you find yourself in a stressful situation that’s causing you anxiety, you’ll be well-equipped to handle any challenge with confidence.

Anxiety management is a journey, not a sprint. Try out these various relaxation techniques and methods as you see fit; don’t expect your anxiety to subside immediately. Good work takes practice and commitment, but we’re confident these strategies will help improve your anxiety and overall mental health.

Manage your physical and mental wellness with Evidation

Caring for our mental and physical health has never been more vital than it is today. With Evidation as a resource, Members can track healthy habits, like exercise, meditation, diet, and more, to help reduce anxiety and promote overall wellness. We’re committed to providing the tools, science-backed insights, and personalized content to support you on your health journey. Download the Evidation app to get started today.

Lifestyle Health & Wellness
April 12, 2024

3 effects of stress on the body and how to reduce stress in your daily routine

5 minutes

Stressors can have various negative effects on the body, and a stress management plan is key for staying healthy.

Stress doesn't just affect your mind – your body feels the effects of stress as well. From a lowered immune system to aches, pains, and more, both chronic and acute stress can make it hard to feel your best. While some types of stress can be reduced, stress itself is unavoidable. That being said, you can reduce the impact of stress on your health by utilizing stress management strategies that allow you to mitigate the effects of stress on your body.

Here, we'll take a look at the different ways stress can affect you physically, as well as steps you can take to manage stress in a way that positively contributes to your overall well-being.

The physiological effects of stress on the body

Our bodies are great at dealing with small doses of stress, but chronic stress and severe acute stress can both be physically taxing. In addition to mood changes, unmanaged stress can lead to both acute and chronic conditions that can make it difficult to get through the day.

How stress impacts immune function

When the body experiences stress, the brain releases cortisol, a hormone that's great for boosting immunity – in the short-term. When your body regularly releases cortisol due to chronic stress, or repeated acute stress events, you may experience inflammation that makes it harder for your body to fight illness.

Failure to manage stress levels can result in a number of immune system issues, including arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, fibromyalgia, and inflammatory bowel disease. Many people find that when their stress is left unmanaged, they turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as drinking, smoking, and overeating. These issues can create more stress in the body, creating a dangerous spiral.

The link between stress and cardiovascular health

Research shows that chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure, which can increase the risk of stroke, heart attacks, and heart disease. A 2020 study showed that certain types of stress – including social isolation, marital stress, trauma, work stress, and childhood abuse – are more likely to contribute to an increased risk of a cardiovascular event than other types of stress.

Strategies for reducing stress in daily life

While it's impossible to avoid all stress and anxiety that comes with the pressures of day-to-day life, implementing strategies that work to control your stress levels can help you feel your best.

Incorporating mindfulness and relaxation techniques

Meditation, yoga, and mindfulness techniques can work to promote relaxation. There's no need to attend a yoga class or book a session with a meditation expert (unless you want to) – there are plenty of ways for you to reap the benefits of mindfulness when you're on a budget or have a tight schedule.

Using an app like Calm can provide you with guided meditations that you can easily listen to whenever you have a few minutes of downtime. In the mood to fit a quick yoga flow into your day? We love Yoga with Adriene's free, positive yoga videos that offer modifications that make it easy for yogis of all experience levels to enjoy the benefit of regular practice.

Establishing healthy boundaries and prioritizing self-care

Elevated stress over time can lead to burnout, which can make it difficult to work, enjoy relationships, and feel happy and healthy. While the idea of burnout is often work-related, it can also apply to romantic relationships, friendships, and family issues. Creating boundaries can feel difficult at first, but doing so allows you to say yes to what really matters (including your own self-care).

If you're dealing with an onslaught of work that's beyond your pay grade in the office, schedule a meeting to talk with your supervisor about the boundaries you need to set in order to avoid burnout. A similar approach can be taken with family and friends whose needs are pushing you to your limit. Having an honest, open conversation about your bandwidth and availability can help others understand that saying no to requests and invitations isn't about them – it's about you prioritizing your own needs.

Scheduling your self-care activities as appointments can help you to prioritize the activities that help you manage stress. Creating time in your calendar to enjoy a walk, cook a new healthy meal, or talk with a trusted friend can all help you lower your baseline stress levels so that you're better able to handle whatever life throws your way.

The role of exercise and physical activity in stress management

When you're feeling stressed and overwhelmed, exercise can feel like the last thing you want to add to your schedule. Making physical activity a regular part of your life, however, can help to lower chronic stress levels and better equip you to deal with acute stress.

The immediate physical stress of exercise can help teach your body how to work through tough situations, bolstering your stress management toolkit. Working out can also support your immune, digestive, and cardiovascular health, mitigating the negative effects of stress on these vital systems.

While going through a tough workout can be a great way to lower stress levels, even short bursts of movement can have health benefits. Going for a few ten minute walks throughout the day can be a time-effective way to enjoy the benefits of exercise without adding another item to your to-do list.

Nutrition and diet tips for stress reduction

Meeting your body's nutritional needs can ease the physical effects of stress. Eating regularly throughout the day can help to keep your blood sugar levels even, which can help to keep your body's response to stress under control. Cutting down on caffeine, adding high-fiber foods (like oatmeal, vegetables, and fruits) to your diet can also help boost your body's ability to withstand stress.

Evidation: Supporting your physical and emotional well-being

At Evidation, we use the data you provide to offer personalized insights, tips, and tricks that can benefit your well-being. Try implementing a few of the tips above to begin the process of building your stress management toolkit. Figuring out what works for you to manage stress levels can take some time, but it's well worth the effort. Stress management is a crucial part of a healthy life, and we're honored to help you feel your best. Learn more about how Evidation works and download the app today.

Lifestyle Health & Wellness
April 10, 2024

Stress management techniques: 4 ways that Evidation can help

9 minutes

Exercise, deep breathing, relaxation practices, and time management are stress management techniques that can help you thrive under pressure.

Stress management is vital to a happy, healthy life, but figuring out how to get stress under control is often easier said than done. According to a 2023 study by the American Psychological Association, Americans have recently shown increased rates of diagnoses for both chronic health conditions and mental health issues, both indicators of stress. While this information can be daunting, there are steps you can take to mitigate the effects of stress on your mind and body. At Evidation, our team is here to provide you with the personalized insights you need to get your stress under control. Here, we'll explore stress management techniques that you can use to feel your best.

Understanding stress and its effects on health

When you pay attention, you can feel the immediate effects of stress on your body. From the feeling of your shoulders tensing when you receive difficult news to the flip-flops you feel in your stomach before taking the floor for a presentation at work, stress affects both your mental and physical health.

Let's take a look at what happens to your body and brain when you're met with a stressor.

When your brain senses a stressful event, the eyes and/or the ears work together to send sensory information to the amygdala, a part of the brain that helps with processing emotions. The amygdala works to determine whether a threat is present. If danger is perceived, a distress signal is sent to the hypothalamus, an area of the brain that works as the director of many aspects of the nervous system, including involuntary functions like blood pressure, heartbeat, and breathing.

After the hypothalamus receives a distress call from the amygdala, the sympathetic nervous system – the part of the brain responsible for the fight-or-flight response – is activated. The hypothalamus sends a message to the adrenal glands, which introduce adrenaline into the bloodstream. Adrenaline increases heart rate, pulse rate, blood pressure, and respiration rate. Alertness is increased as the eyes and ears become more sensitive. Blood sugar and fats are used for energy during this process.

After the initial surge of hormones subsides, the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands work together to activate the next phase of the stress response. If the brain continues to receive information that signals imminent danger, these organs work together to release cortisol, which allows the body to stay alert. After the threat has passed, the parasympathetic nervous system slows the stress response, allowing the body and brain's chemistry to return to normal.

When functioning properly, the body's stress response works to keep us safe. For many people, however, the brakes that are meant to stop the stress response don't work so well. This results in chronic, low-level stress that can cause a number of physical and mental health issues.

In addition to anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions, above-average release of stress hormones can cause problems with blood pressure, and can lead to an elevated risk of heart attack and stroke. Since cortisol works to help the body access energy, constant chronic stress can result in increased hunger and build up of excess adipose (fat) tissue, leading to weight gain.

Thankfully, there are many steps you can take to lower your stress levels and reduce the effects that stress has on your health.

Practical stress management techniques for everyday life

The best stress management strategies are the ones that you'll actually remember to do. It can take some time to figure out what approach to stress management is the right fit for your needs. Implementing a few strategies to manage stress each week can help you determine what works well for you and what doesn't.

Leveraging technology for stress relief: Evidation's approach

At Evidation, our team is here to provide you with the personalized insights you need to thrive, no matter what level of stress you're dealing with in your life.

Our app works to use the health data that you choose to share, as well as the information you provide us regarding your health and your goals, to help you live your best life. We're excited to work with you and use our technology to help lower your stress levels, simply by working with the data you're already tracking.

Monitoring stress levels with Evidation's health app

At Evidation, we use the health data you choose to share to provide you with articles and action items that can help you meet your health goals. By pairing with more than 20 apps, including Fitbit, Withings, Garmin, Dexcom, Apple Health, and Google Fit, we make it easy for you to get the information you need to move your health forward. We're able to use your sleep, heart rate, breathing rate, and other data that you provide to help you understand your body's response to stress.

Personalized recommendations for stress reduction

Many of our Evidation Members benefit from our stress reduction and management recommendations. Let's take a look at some of the most effective techniques our members use for managing stress.

Prioritize sleep

When it seems like your to-do list is never going to end, it can be hard to figure out how to get more sleep – but doing so is essential to your well-being. Sleep doesn't just give you a break from the stressful thoughts that may be running through your head, it can also help you recover from stress more quickly.

As we discussed, your body may go into fight-or-flight mode during times of stress, releasing hormones that can be vital for survival in times of danger. Your body perceives sleep deprivation as another type of stress, which can result in the unnecessary continual release of stress hormones.

Getting a good night's sleep is often more easily said than done, especially if you're dealing with an acute stressor that's making it hard to relax. Some people find that sleep affects their stress by making it hard to stay asleep, while others may wake up too early and find it difficult to go back to sleep. While everyone has trouble sleeping from time to time, chronic insomnia (difficulty sleeping that lasts for a month or longer) can have negative effects on your health.

Try these tips to make the most of your sleep:

  • Create the right environment for sleep. A cool, dark room is ideal for helping you get the rest you need.
  • Develop an effective bedtime routine. Stepping away from screens for an hour or so before you go to bed can help your brain prepare for sleep. Taking a warm bath or shower before transitioning into your cooler bedroom can help your body temperature take the small dip it needs to ease into restful sleep.
  • Consider cutting caffeine. For some, drinking coffee or tea late in the day can make it difficult to sleep at night. Consider lowering your caffeine intake, restricting caffeine to morning hours only, or eliminating caffeinated beverages if you're having trouble falling asleep.

Stay active

Exercise can work wonders for stress management. While it's ideal to shoot for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, shorter bursts of exercise can also help to support stress.

The benefits of getting active, even for short periods each day, include:

  • Stress reduction. Your body is better able to mitigate the fight or flight response when it gets practice during periods of physical activity. The physical effects of stress – such as damage to your cardiovascular system and a lowered immune system – can also be mitigated through exercise.
  • Endorphin boost. Endorphins are chemicals that help your brain and body feel relaxed and comfortable, and aerobic activity bumps up your brain's production of these feel-good hormones.
  • Moving meditation. Fully focusing on your workout can give your brain a break from the stressors of the day. Many people find that repetitive motion – like swimming, walking, or jogging – can help clear the mind and reduce stress.

If you haven't worked out in a while, it's a good idea to talk with your doctor about what type of exercise is the right fit for you. This is also an important step if you have certain health conditions or have experienced joint or muscular injuries in the past.

Engage in relaxation techniques

If you're dealing with stress and anxiety management struggles, adding relaxation techniques into your day can provide you with the foundation you need to function optimally.

  • Deep breathing is a simple practice that you can utilize anywhere, whether you're dealing with an acute stressor or you're simply working to lower your baseline stress levels. Many people find success with box breathing. To give it a try, breathe in for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, and then slowly release your breath over the next eight seconds. Repeat as necessary.
  • Visualization is another helpful technique that can help your mind get a break from stress. While a licensed therapist or counselor can work with you to help you develop effective visualization techniques, you can also work on visualization on your own. First, you'll think about a place that feels relaxing to you. Then, you'll use as many senses as possible to fully immerse yourself in your visualization. Notice what you can see, feel, hear, tough, and smell.
  • Meditation. There's more to meditation than simply sitting silently. Taking a few minutes to meditate can help you allow thoughts to flow freely through your mind, without having to pay attention to stressful or painful issues that arise. Focusing on a word, feeling, or your breathing can allow both your mind and body to get the break they need to handle stress effectively.

Practice time management

Avoiding burnout can be tough if you're in a stressful job or family situation, and using sound time management practices can help to ensure that you're finding the time necessary for self-care.

Just getting started with improving how you manage your time? Try these tips to get a good idea of how you can manage your time more effectively:

  • Audit your time. It's easy to get to the end of the day and feel like you weren't able to get much accomplished, even though it felt like you never stopped moving or working. Conducting an audit of your time can help you find areas where you can utilize your time more wisely. Try to reserve judgment as you conduct your time audit. Simply take the information for what it is, and look for places where you can change your approach and use your time more effectively.
  • Consider implementing the Eisenhower Matrix. While this tool sounds complicated, it's anything but. The Eisenhower Matrix involves splitting all of your tasks for the day into four quadrants: important and urgent, important but not urgent, urgent but not important, and not important and not urgent. Organizing your daily tasks this way can provide you with a simple visual that can help to effectively plan your day.
  • Chunk your time. The Pomodoro method is a popular time management technique that can be used to help you stay on track as you work through work and personal tasks. You'll need a timer (your cell phone works). Work for a 25-minute interval, then take a 5-minute break. After you go through this cycle four times, you'll take a 15-30 minute break to refocus. Many people find that this method of working helps to ease mental fatigue and boost concentration.

At Evidation, we're here to help you live your best life

Stress is unavoidable, and having the right coping strategies in your stress management tool kit can help you live your best life. At Evidation, our app offers valuable tools to help you track your stress levels and receive valuable insights that help you manage your stress, instead of letting your stress manage you. Empower yourself by downloading our app today.

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