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It’s conference time – time off from work, no household chores, great food and it’s free. Expect to feel exhilarated by all the new information you will take in, yet, wonder why by the end of the trip you feel like you’ve been run over by a steam roller. You may have trouble keeping awake during the long days inside, with no windows in conference rooms and many speakers to listen to. Don’t be surprised if at the end of the conference you end up with a bad case of jet lag. You may feel bloated and irregular. So what can you do to get the most out of conferences and still feel half human?

Being aware of your meals and snacks might help to ease the upset in schedule and to your system. You can be sure that meals will include rich desserts and often there will be plenty of muffins or chocolate chip cookies for snacks. So you think, “a little won’t hurt”. And it’s true a little won’t hurt – if you can stop at ‘a little’. Too much sugar may result is a dip in energy, and mental fog.

A large dose of dense carbohydrates (sugar, bread, desserts, cakes), with its brand of empty calories, can temporarily raise your blood sugar (as can caffeine), so that you feel a high, lots of energy – but not for long. An hour or two later, your blood sugar may plunge and you begin feeling lethargic, not able to concentrate. You begin thinking, “if only I could have a little nap!”

Remember that food alters your mood, and good wholesome foods such as fruit and vegetables nourishes the mind and body along with aiding regularity. Most conferences now include yogurt or fruit for snacks. It would be a good idea to reach for these high energy snacks. If there’s a grocery store near the conference centre, the following is a list of healthful snacks that will feed your brain and body and keep you alert! Some items such as power bars, you can bring with you.

Perfect snacks for high energy include:

×    fresh fruit – apples, peaches, plums, grapes etc. along with nuts or seeds

×    dried fruit; dates, figs, cranberries

×    power bars that contain protein

×    vegetables (baby carrots or cherry tomatoes) and nuts

×    nuts (raw almonds and walnuts) sunflower or pumpkin seeds

×    yogurt and fruit

×    cheese and fruit (or whole grain crackers)

These high powered snacks provide you with the needed protein and complex carbohydrates that your mind and body loves. In small amounts, they won’t make you fat, yet provides your body with needed nutrients. If your concentration is getting low, you just might be thirsty. Carry bottled water around with you and drink often. Water helps prevent dehydration, jet lag and boosts energy.  Some form of exercise – even walking around the block before the conference starts or at breaks will give your muscles an oxygen boost. You’ll feel revived, especially if the sun is shining outside.

Regarding desserts, on a scale of one to ten, have a taste and if it’s a ten, don’t feel too guilty and enjoy, or take a few bites. Otherwise, if the dessert isn’t great, the sugar content may not be worth it.  If it’s a dessert that contains fruit, remember that fruit supplies the body with vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.

Enjoy the conference; enjoy the meals. However, a few small changes may just help in your overall mood and concentration level so you can be fully aware, energetic and vital.

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In the winter months we often feel down, especially if the sun isn’t shining! This can be for many reasons. We miss the warm weather; we can’t get out for walks; we can’t get away for a vacation at this time; it’s too cold; too many bills to pay! One of the main reasons for feeling blue in the winter is lack of vitamin D – from the sun.

What Can Help

Get some exercise. If you don’t belong to a gym, walk in malls. Do some stretches every day. Exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression.

Some depression boosting nutrients:

  • Vitamin D. Ask your doctor for a Vitamin D, 25 Hydroxy test to determine your vitamin D stores. If they are low, you need to add more vitamin D3 to your diet in supplement form or sunshine.
  • B12 and folic acid. B12 levels can be tested by your doctor. This nutrient is important to mental health.
  • B Complex. If you’re tired, you could be low in B vitamins.
  • Fish oils (capsules or liquid). Quality brands include Nordic Naturals, Nutrasea, Carlson. Those looking for extra mental boosts, look for those formulas with much higher EPA to DHA on the list of ingredients.
  • St. Johns Wort – liquid or homeopathic preparations. Contra indicated if on depression medication, otherwise, it’s a great booster to mood.

Check with your doctor, naturopath or nutritionist for nutrients and dosages suited for you. One good site I recommend is www.doctoryourself.com. Hope to see you smiling soon.

Did anyone ever tell you to take a deep breath? Count to ten. Calm down.

If you have a pounding heart, sweaty palms, tense stomach, or fast breathing, aching neck, racing mind, it’s time to take a break. They are signals of stress chemicals surging through your body. You can put a stop to them and protect your health. Stress is said to be responsible for 80% of doctors’ visits.

The goal of relaxation is to release unnecessary muscle tension and quiet the mind and body. Breathing is our natural tension-releaser. We do it every minute of our life.

Focus On Your Breathing

Right now, just notice your breath going in and out through your nose. Be aware how the air goes down into your lungs and out again. Do this for about a minute. Just focusing on your breath is a way of relaxing.

Ten Second Break

  • Take a slow, deep belly breath. Count to 4 slowly as you inhale and exhale.
  • Take a second deep belly breath – Close your eyes as you start to inhale.
  • As you exhale, imagine or feel warmth coming over your body at your head and flowing into your hands and feet. Perhaps you can visualize warm sunshine or a heat lamp over you. Your body starts to feel heavy.
  • As heaviness and warmth are flowing in, think or repeat the phrase, “I Am Calm.”
  • Alternatively, you can also think, “I Am” as you breathe in and “Calm” as you breathe out. Open your eyes. Notice if you feel calmer.

Repeat these exercises when you need them as positive effects are cumulative.

Your mind and body will thank you.

Another computer crash?  Technology stress has scored again! Deadlines are approaching and critical files are lost.

As a society, we are dependant on computer technology and when we need it most, it often sabotages us. Computer crashes cause us anger, stress; cholesterol levels rise! We can get shaky, feel tense or sick to our stomach. Stress is responsible for 80% of all doctors’ visits.

Many people react emotionally to machines that have no sense of concern or let alone remorse for what they’ve done to us by stopping cold. To encourage anxiety relief, firstly, it’s best to alter your perception of events and attitudes so that you can remain calm in an increasingly technological society.

Three Rescue Remedies for Computer Stress

1) Take a few deep breaths and think to yourself: “Tomorrow the sun will rise again. This too will pass.” These positive thinking techniques help both mental and physical well-being.

2) Either fix the problem yourself or call a technician who can. In the meantime, to help you relax, either go for a short walk around the block, get a cup of soothing green tea or do shoulder rolls! Once you’re calm, you’ll be more able to form an action plan to resolve consequences of the crash. Negative attitudes (screaming at technicians) only alienates those who can help you.

3) Be prepared! Make sure you have excellent backup systems. If freezes or crashes do happen again, practice these simple stress relief tips to save your sanity!