Hangover Cures: Easing the pain

‘Tis the season to be jolly… and that usually means endless social functions and general overindulgence.

Let’s face it, eating and drinking is synonymous with this time of year – and it’s not without its repercussions. The most immediate consequence is the omnipotent hangover… and it’s unavoidable. Don’t worry though; we have a few handy tips to help lesson the pain (at least a little).

When you drink too much alcohol, your body becomes dehydrated and there’s a depletion of vitamins A, B (especially B6) and C. The tips below are aimed at helping your body get back to its “happy place” by rehydrating and replacing the lacking vitamins.

Water

If you’re reading this before your big night out, then try to ensure you drink plenty of water throughout the night. A good system is to drink a glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you consume.

Try to drink a lot of water before going to bed to prevent the symptoms of dehydration and to wash out the alcohol from your system. Continue to drink water throughout the day after.

This is by far the most effective way of dealing with a hangover.

Sleep

After you’ve rehydrated yourself, get as much sleep as possible.

Vitamins

Try to replenish the vitamins your body has lost. Take a good multivitamin or take Vitamin C and Vitamin B specifically.

Sports drinks

Sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade replace electrolytes and glucose.

Fruit

Fruit will give you the energy and vitamins your body needs. Bananas in particular are most effective as they are high in potassium and magnesium, which will help your pounding head.

Greasy food

There is no scientific proof to confirm that this works – in fact, adding all those fats and carbohydrates to your already sensitive tummy should make you feel worse. But it doesn’t. We recommend cold pizza from the night before but many people swear by your typical Wimpy breakfast.

In addition to the things you should do, here are a few things you should not do:

  • Don’t drink coffee. It’s a diuretic and that will only dehydrate you further.
  • Forget about the Hair of the Dog. Drinking more will only delay the inevitable.

Most importantly, pace yourself when you drink and be sure to use a taxi service if you’re too intoxicated to drive.

Our Festive De-Stress Guide

With just a few hours to go before Christmas, most of us are already whipped into a Festive Season frenzy. Merry making usually involves lots of eating and drinking, but also an overdose of family time. With all the shopping, wrapping, cooking, entertaining, bonding and partying it’s easy to forget to sometimes take some time to ourselves to de-stress.

A little planning goes a long way, so here are a few tips to make this time of year a little less stressful:

Make a list, check it twice (like Santa Clause)

  • Create a budget to ensure you don’t overspend this year. Calculate how much you can spend during this period, remembering to include expenses such as restaurant and drinks bills, presents, groceries, etc.
  • Before heading out to the buy Christmas presents, create a list of names with present ideas. Cross out the names as you buy the lists. (You making some of the gifts too – see some of our tips towards the end of this article.)
  • If your Christmas list is too long (and too expensive), consider creative ways of giving gifts. Many bigger families draw names from a hat and instead of buying for everyone, they buy for the person whose name they drew. Alternatively, you can also do a Secret Santa, where each person buys a generic gift and then on Christmas everyone takes a turn choosing a gift.
  • Where possible, avoid actually going to the shops and rather buy online.

Create a schedule… for you

  • On Christmas Eve, you’re going to Aunty Teresa’s house for dinner; Christmas Day will be spent with your husband’s side of the family at his cousin Gertrude’s home; on Boxing Day you’re having the family around to your place; there’s that braai at your friend Mickey’s place just before New Year’s and then of course there’s the New Year’s Eve party at that swanky restaurant in town. It’s exhausting just remembering all of it!

This Festive Season, be sure to schedule time for positive, relaxing activities that are focused on you and your needs. It might sound silly, but schedule some time for a longer lie in or a nap, take a long walk on your own, go for a manicure or a pedicure, or even take the time to plan one full day of healthy eating.

Dealing with family

  • Everything doesn’t have to be perfect – so don’t expect miracles. If you and a certain family member generally don’t get along, Christmas Day (or any other special occasion) won’t change anything.
  • Try to avoid topics that you know will cause disagreements.
  • Remember that the Festive Season is not a good time to discuss difficult issues. Set it aside for another time.
  • Learn to say no. You don’t have to attend every family event or activity.
  • Surround yourself with people who love you and accept you for who you are. This is not always your immediate family, it is someone or a group of people who add positivity and love to your life.

Get creative

Creativity helps to relieve stress. The creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps to resolve conflicts and problems, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight. (http://www.healthnewsdigest.com)

Below are a few creative projects to try over the next period:

Most importantly, look after yourselves and your loved ones this festive season. Remember, that sometimes this time of year truly can be perfectly imperfect.

Thyroid disorders and the chaos they cause

The thyroid is a small gland located in the front of your neck and throat. It’s a small gland that usually weighs less than 30 grams. If it’s functioning normally, you barely know about it, but if there’s a problem with it, it can wreak havoc with your body.

As small as it is, the thyroid has a huge role in our body’s function: it produces hormones that have an effect on metabolism, regulates calcium and phosphorus levels, produces proteins, maintains bone strength and controls body temperature.

Thyroid problems are more common in women than they are in men and they can be the result of too much or too little of the thyroid hormone called thyroxine. We outline three different types of thyroid disorders below:

Hypothyroidism

Occurring mainly in women aged 30 to 50 years old, hypothyroidism is the result of a reduced level of thyroxine.

Symptoms: Fatigue, weight gain, constipation, body aches, dry skin, fluid retention, depression.

Diagnosis & treatment: Because these symptoms are associated with a slow metabolism, hypothyroidism can go undetected for years. If you suspect you have hypothyroidism, ask your doctor to be tested. Treatment includes a daily tablet that controls thyroxine levels.

Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism occurs more often in younger women, aged 20 to 40, and it’s basically the exact opposite of hypothyroidism: the production of too much thyroxine hormone.

Symptoms: Restlessness and difficulty concentrating, irritability, difficulty sleeping, tremors, weight loss, palpitations, sweating, diarrhea, thinning hair, itchy skin, menstrual changes, muscle weakness.

Diagnosis & treatment: This too can be diagnosed with a blood test. Treatment can include mediation or radioactive iodine (RAI) treatment.

Goitre

A goitre occurs when the thyroid gland grows larger than normal. They are usually painless, but they can vary in size, making swallowing and breathing difficult if it gets too big.

Symptoms: A swollen thyroid gland, which leads to the swelling of the neck.

Diagnosis and treatment: Your GP will conduct a physical examination on your neck, feeling the gland with his fingers. Your doctor will also run blood tests to determine whether or not the goitre was caused by an overactive or underactive thyroid (goitres can occur in normally-functioning thyroid’s too).

Treatment for a goitre includes RAI treatment, iodine supplements or surgery if necessary – particularly if there is difficulty with swallowing or breathing.

Sources:

http://www.emedicinehealth.com/thyroid_problems/article_em.htm
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/167559.php

Destiny Women magazine

Say yes to a healthy diet; say yes to a healthy heart

Dean Ornish, M. D., a clinical professor and author of the Program for Reversing Heart Disease, says that 99% of heart disease is preventable by simply making changes to diet and lifestyle. In other words, a healthy diet can lower your risk of heart attack.

Start off by having a chat to your GP regarding your family history of heart disease, have your blood pressure checked every year and cholesterol tested at least every five years (if you are at a high risk of heart disease, you will have to check more often than that).

Then start making some positive changes to your diet. Here’s how:

Eat more fish, less meat

Oily fish such as salmon and tuna are high in Omega 3 fatty acids, which reduces inflammation throughout the body, lowers blood pressure and reduces blood clotting.

Try not to eat more than one serving of meat a day. Consider replacing a few servings of meat with hummus and legumes as they are also a good source of protein.

Increase your fruit intake

Especially berries and bananas. Berries are known to boost levels of good cholesterol and lower blood pressure. Bananas are high in potassium, which also helps to lower blood pressure. These are your “super fruits” when it comes to beating heart disease, but really, any fruit is good for your heart.

Eat lots of vegetables

Again, all vegetables are good for you, but spinach, kale and sweet potatoes are particularly high in potassium.

Monounsaturated fats are good

Don’t ban all fat from your diet – just stick to the good ones. Olive oil and avocados help to lower bad cholesterol and they reduce your risk of heart disease.

Swap simple carbohydrates for complex carbs

Think whole grain foods, like whole-wheat flour, oatmeal, brown rice instead of white bread, white rice or baked goods.

What we’ve just described above is basically a healthy, well balanced diet, one that any dietician would recommend if you were trying to lose weight. However, a healthy heart lifestyle is more than just your diet and unfortunately there’s no escaping another key element: Exercise.

Physical inactivity and obesity are risk factors in heart disease so to keep yourself heart healthy, try to exercise for 30 minutes at least five times per week. It doesn’t necessarily have to be heavy, strenuous exercise but you must get your heart rate up at least a little.

Lastly, if you are at risk of heart disease, learn to recognise the signs: pressure in the chest, neck, shoulders, arm or stomach when you’re physically active. Get tested if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms.

Coping with Exam Stress

Many South African university students are nearing the end of exams, with one or two left to go, while matrics across the country are bracing themselves for one of the most important exam seasons of their life so far.

By now you should have a solid review timetable in place with a good understanding of the work and a healthy knowledge of your weak and strong points within the syllabus. However, no matter how prepared you are, you might be struggling to cope with the stress of it all.

Remember that being prepared means revising the work as well as learning how to balance work, exercise and yes, even relaxation. Roger Mead, US Stress Management Consultant and General Secretary of the US International Stress Management Association says, “Stress is not about the exam, but about what you think of the exam. People shouldn’t see them as monsters they can’t escape.”

Below are some tips to help you cope with exams stress just before and during the  actual exam:

Get enough sleep and relaxation

A tired mind will be no good to you during an exam, so don’t pull an all-nighter the night before. Make sure you get a good night’s rest. At least an hour before the exam, stop everything and make a point of winding down and relaxing. Your body will thank you – you will be better able to cope with the stress of the actual exam and produce your best work.

Get some exercise

An exercise session, whether it’s a 10-minute walk or a full on gym work out, will help your body feel more relaxed and focused.

Eat good food

Eat a healthy meal before the exam, including fruits and vegetables, proteins and healthy carbohydrates (not heavy carbohydrates like rice and potatoes – they will just make you sleepy!). This will ensure you have the energy to get through the exam and even concentrate better.

Banish negativity

Manage your expectations and don’t let yourself fall into the trap of believing that anything less than an A+ is failure. You need to build your confidence and negative thinking will only pull you down. Try to avoid that stressed out friend – the one who gets too worked up about exams – because her stress is catchy.

Be prepared

At this stage in the game, we’re not talking about revision anymore. We’re talking about the actual exam – a last minute search for everything could create unnecessary panic. Make sure you have everything you need beforehand, such as your stationary, your exam number or student card, a bottle of water to keep you hydrated, etc.

Plan your time

Once you have the paper, start out by taking a quick look through the structure of the exam. Plan your approach – mark the questions that you know the answers to and complete them first. This will help boost your confidence, and a confidence booster in the exam is exactly what you need. Remember to leave some time at the end to carefully review and edit your answers.

Remain calm

If you find that you don’t know some of the answers, don’t let panic creep in. Focus on your breathing, remain calm, move to the next question and return to this one at a later stage if there is time.

Let it go

When you’re finished the exam, allow yourself at least a short moment of celebration. Don’t spend time debating answers with friends and stop analyzing your answers, trying to figure out where you went wrong – there’s nothing you can do at this stage except hope for the best.

Remember that these exams might seem like the most important thing in your life right now – but in years to come, you will see they are only a small part of your life. Try your best, work hard and concentrate, but don’t let them consume your very being.

And finally… Good luck!


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