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8 Reasons to Start Practicing Meditation Right Now!

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Meditation is fast growing in popularity. And for good reasons; more and more people are discovering its benefits.  However, despite the relatively recent surge in its popularity, this mind training technique has been in existence for centuries.

Long before modern medicine, as we know it today, ancient healers regularly incorporated meditation into their healing practices.

What Is Meditation?

Meditation is the regular process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts. You can use meditation to increase your self-awareness and also boost your awareness of your surroundings. For many, it is a healthy, no-adverse-effect way to decrease stress and improve concentration.

Our fast-paced, stressful lifestyle today has inspired an ever-growing number of people to practice meditation for its beneficial feelings and habits. These habits include; healthy sleep patterns, self-discipline, positive mood and outlook, and better tolerance for pain.

Today, a growing number of studies continue to link meditation with physical and mental wellness. Many others focus on understanding how meditation works and why it has a positive effect on the brain.

In this article, we’ll outline 8 evidence-based benefits of meditation. Read on!

Meditation Increases Immunity

Meditation can help to build up your immunity. According to a study conducted at Ohio State University, regular mindful muscle relaxation exercises reduced the risk of recurrent breast cancer.

Another Ohio state study of meditation’s effect on senior patients showed that meditation and relaxation exercises practices over a 4 week period improved patients’ lymphocytes for better immune function. As a result, the participants had improved immune resistance to viruses and tumors.

Meditation Reduces Stress

Stress reduction remains of the commonest reasons people practice meditation. In one study that included over 3,500 adults, meditation was shown to truly help in stress reduction.

Usually, increased mental and physical stress increased cortisol levels (cortisol is a stress hormone). This, in turn, produces many of the harmful effects of stress such as the release of cytokines, an inflammation-increasing chemical and this result in disrupted sleep, anxiety, and depression, increased blood pressure, fatigue and even confusion.

In an eight-week study, “mindfulness meditation”, reduced the inflammatory response triggered by stress.

There are many other studies with similar results. But one thing is clear; meditation can reduce symptoms in people with stress-promoted medical conditions.

Meditation Promotes Better Sleep

If you struggle with sleep, meditation is one practice you should look into. Regular meditation helps the body learn to relax. By training the mind to settle its attention on something e.g. the breath, distracting thoughts and emotions are acknowledged and allowed to pass.

Besides that, there are also guided meditations that are specifically designed to promote sleep.

Meditation Improves Happiness and Overall Wellbeing

One research conducted at the University of Utah reveals that mindfulness may be linked to self-regulation throughout the day, this, according to the study might be a major way that mindfulness aids emotional and physical wellbeing.

Once we’ve accepted who we truly are and learn to work directly with our thoughts, we unravel a loving capacity that has always been within us. It, therefore, comes as no surprise that mindful living boosts our mental clarity, increases happiness, and gives us true peace.

Meditation Controls Anxiety

Mindfulness has been shown to help reduce symptoms of anxiety disorders such as phobias, paranoia, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, and panic attacks. All of these can be triggered by stress and less stress means less anxiety.

In one study of over 2,000 participants, varieties of meditation practices were shown to reduce anxiety levels. Yoga, for example, was shown in one study to help people anxiety sufferers reduce symptoms of the condition. This may be largely due to the benefits of both physical activity and meditative practice.

Meditation Slows Aging

Meditation has been shown to change brain psychology to slow aging. According to Sara Lazar, a researcher at Harvard University, cognition seems to be more preserved in meditators. She adds that people who meditated regularly seem to have more gray matter (brain cells).

Elizabeth Hoge, another Harvard researcher did a study that suggested that meditators also have longer telomeres, the caps in chromosomes that indicate biological age. While the reason is not very clear, Hoge believes that something about meditation and how it reduces stress and its effects on the body may be a factor.

Meditation Lowers Blood Pressure

For people who practice meditation for medical reasons, this is another benefit. Meditation has been revealed by studies to help control blood pressure. A study published in the British Medical Journal showed that patients who performed meditation-based exercises had significantly reduced blood pressure than the participants in the control group.

Meditation Relieves IBS Symptoms

Around 15% of the world’s population is estimated to suffer from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). The condition is characterized by bloating, cramps, abdominal pain, and poor bowel behavior. Although its exact cause is unclear, regular meditation has been found to reduce the symptoms of this disorder.

Conclusion

Meditation is something everyone can and should do to improve their mental and emotional health. What’s even more fascinating about meditation is that it can be done anywhere. No special memberships or equipment required. Also, it has so many varieties each with its own benefits and strengths.

So, today, take up that challenge to incorporate meditation into your lifestyle and you’ll be glad you did.

 

Dawn is a health and fitness enthusiast, a massage therapist and she also loves to write!

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Why Does My Scalp Itch? Common Causes Of Itchy Scalp

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Why does my scalp itch so much? What could be the cause? If you have a constantly itchy scalp, you may have wondered why and also tried some remedies recommended by family and friends. So, why does your scalp itch? What causes an itchy scalp?

An itchy scalp can be a nightmare for anyone. In extreme cases, it can be difficult to think about anything else. All you want to do is scratch and scratch until you get some relief. The worse part? Scratching often worsens the itch!

When many of us think of head itches, we tend to associate it with dandruff or ringworm. But this is not always the case. Head itches can have several causes and to successfully put a stop to it or even minimize the itch, you have to first know the exact cause of your scalp itch.

Below, I’ll outline some of the possible causes of your itchy scalp and also some of the things you can do to reduce or eliminate the itch.

Head Lice

We wrongly tend to associate head lice with poor hygiene. And this isn’t true at all. Head lice often seek for and thrive in clean hair so hygiene has nothing to do with it. Head lice attach to your scalp, feeding mostly on blood. If you look closely, you may spot some adult lice moving around your scalp or see them on a clear white paper when you comb your hair.

What you can do about head lice

Instead of regular shampoos, opt for anti-lice shampoos containing insecticides such as permethrin or pyrethrin. Follow the instructions on your product’s box to completely get rid of the lice. These shampoos are usually effective when used as directed.

Reaction To Hair Product

If your hair starts itching after you make a hair product change or introduce a new product, it could be due to an allergic reaction to the ingredients in the product. This condition is referred to as contact dermatitis. It is more common among people who frequently dye their hair and the cause most of the time is para-phenylenediamine (PPD) a chemical present in black hair dyes.

Shampoos, conditioners or any other hair product can also cause allergy and itch when it touches your scalp. If your scalp starts to itch after using a shampoo or a conditioner, you may be allergic to one or more ingredients in it.

What you can do

To stop the itchiness, you have to first identify the product causing the itch. If you have difficulty knowing the exact product, you can have a licensed dermatologist help you do it. He should be able to tell from experience the ingredients in your hair care products that may be causing the itch. And once he discovers which, do your part by eliminating such from your hair care products.

Scalp Ringworm

This scalp infection is caused by fungus.  Scalp ringworm can cause a severely itchy rash, pus-filled bumps, hair loss, and redness. If you think scalp ringworm might be the cause of your severe scalp itch, you can report your suspicion to your dermatologist.

You want to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment for ringworm as the infection often requires prescription medication to completely go away.

Scabies

Scabies is another common cause of scalp itch. It occurs when a bug called the human itch mite burrows into your scalp causing it to become very itchy. You will notice a rash of little bumps that itch intensely. In severe cases, the itch can keep you awake at night.

What you can do

Your dermatologist will check to make sure that your itch is truly being caused by scabies. If it is, you will need a prescription for proper treatment.

Folliculitis

The inflammation of the hair follicles, this condition in addition to itching can lead to temporary hair loss. It can be caused by a bacterial or fungal infection.

What you can do

If your folliculitis is caused by a bacterial infection, it can be treated with antibiotics and if caused by a fungal infection, it can be treated with antifungal medication. However, ensure you get a proper diagnosis and then a prescription from a licensed dermatologist for proper treatment.

Alopecia Areata

This condition causes small patches of hair to fall out of your scalp. In some cases, it can also cause scalp itchiness. While it is still not very clear what triggers alopecia areata, many scientists believe that it may occur when a person’s immune system begins to attack their hair follicles.

The condition has been found to occur more in people with an autoimmune disorder or people with a family history of an autoimmune condition.

What you can do

Alopecia is a serious condition and you should not delay treating it. See a dermatologist if you notice symptoms such as hair loss and itching for proper diagnosis. Depending on the severity of your condition and the possible cause, you may get any of the following standard treatments for alopecia areata:

  • Antifungal medications
  • Immunotherapy
  • Steroids
  • Hair transplant
  • Finasteride (Propecia)
  • Minoxidil (Rogaine)

Scalp Psoriasis

Scalp psoriasis is a common cause of scalp itch. With scalp psoriasis, you will notice reddish patches, flaking, and dryness on your scalp. The itch can also range from mild to severe.

While there are several treatments for this condition, you have to start by getting a diagnosis from your dermatologist. After that, you will get a prescription and lifestyle changes recommended if required to help you treat and manage the condition successfully.

Product Buildup

Our haircare products can sometimes cause buildup. This is especially true with products containing silicones. While they make your hair look better when used, they can dry out your hair making it dull and lifeless if not properly washed out.

Buildups can also make your scalp red, itchy and irritated because of how they affect your hair. For one, buildups lock-in irritants and allergens that ordinarily do not agree with the hair and scalp. And the longer they stay in due to poor hair washing habits, the more likely they will be to cause itching.

Also, with the buildup covering the top of your scalp, the scalp’s natural shedding rate may be affected causing more itching, scalp redness and dryness.

What you can do

Whenever you wash your hair, rinse out every trace of your hair products with clean water. If you have to use hair products containing silicone, remember that these are more likely to cause a buildup leading to itchiness. You want to be extra thorough when washing hair with these kinds of products.

Nerve Issues

If your scalp remains itchy in the absence of a rash or any other skin condition, then it may be a sign of a nerve problem.

This can be due to nerve damage from a disease or a problem with the way the nerves work. Scarring is a common cause of nerve damage. A scar that runs deep enough to cause hair loss and scalp injury may have also damaged the nerves.

What you can do

See a dermatologist for examination, diagnosis, and treatment.

Skin Cancer

While not as common as the other possible causes, skin cancer can cause your scalp to itch. Have a dermatologist examine your scalp. With his experience, your dermatologist should be able to tell whether the itchy areas in your scalp require further testing to rule out skin cancer.

Why Does My Scalp Itch Excessively? Conclusion

Our scalps can itch for a lot of reasons and thankfully, most of these causes can be resolved with simple medications, lifestyle and product changes.

Always seek a professional’s opinion and this is particularly important if you are also losing hair on your scalp or notice other symptoms co-existing with the itching. Once these issues are corrected, your hair should grow back and return to its former state over time.

Thoughts? Questions? Share in the comment section below.

 

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6 Simple But Game-Changing Morning Habits To Help You Start Off The Day Right

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What’s your morning routine like? If you’re reading this, it is probably because your morning routine could use some improvements. Or, maybe you’re looking to finally overhaul your current routine or even create one.

Whichever it is, discussed below are some of the best tips to give you a great start each morning.

Begin Early

Beginning early will help you get ahead of the world. You get a few more hours to yourself when you rise early each day.

You have the extra hours to complete tasks or just any other activity you’d have spent the “regular hours” on.  You may not be a “morning person” but with constant practice, it will grow into a lifestyle.

Beginning early will help you get more done with far fewer distractions in the morning. You are more creative with your mind still fresh. You’re also a generally happier person and this is not unconnected to the joy of accomplishing more than you’d have done if you woke later.

Make Your Bed

Make your bed! A very small task but also one many fail to practice. Making your bed is the first task of the day and like every other task, completing it will give you a sense of pride, though small. It will also encourage you to take on several other tasks; step by step.

Work Out

Good old exercises! You can’t go wrong with exercising every morning. It holds so many benefits that you’ll definitely need for a successful and rewarding day.

Some of the benefits you’ll enjoy with an early morning workout include a fitter body, enhanced blood flow and the release of endorphins.

Morning workouts rev you up for the day ahead due to the improved overall energy levels. Exercises have been shown in many studies to fight depression and anxiety by improving the mood.

The best part? You don’t need to spend hours working out to enjoy the benefits. A quick 30-minute jump on the trampoline, yoga, a run on the treadmill, or even jogging around the neighborhood can provide you with the same benefits.

If you practice yoga, fixing it for mornings will help to ensure that you do it regularly and reap all of the mood-improving benefits essential for a great day.

Positive Affirmations

Daily positive affirmations can deeply and positively affect your subconscious, how you view yourself and the rest of the day. The affirmations do not have to be complex; they can be made up of simple lines of the good things you speak to yourself to help you triumph over negativity.

By consciously outlining your daily affirmations in line with your goals and dedicatedly repeating them each day, the words make an impression on your subconscious mind and help to counter those limiting thought patterns and behaviors.

You can say simple affirmations like;

I am getting that job at *insert here* company

I am going to succeed in all I do today

I am confident of achieving excellent results at work today

When you start affirming and visualizing these things, you start to believe that you can achieve it and this, in turn, will cause you to take action on them.

A Proper Breakfast

Breakfast is your first meal of the day and as expected, can significantly impact your performance the entire day. And this is why a proper breakfast is essential for providing you with good quality fuel. Instead of high-sugar, high-fat breakfasts opt for healthier options like a smoothie, oatmeal, fresh fruits, and low-fat breakfast sandwich. This combination filling, tasty and you’ll have your meal craving satisfied for longer.

Cold Showers

Cold showers may not be everyone’s favorite especially in winter, it holds so many benefits and many of our athletes swear by it! For one, cold showers improve blood flow, increase dopamine levels, and burn unhealthy fat.  Looking to improve your daily productivity levels? Then, you should consider including this highly beneficial activity into your daily routine. The rewards are more than worth it.

 

The above are just some of the activities you can include in your morning routine for a more productive and rewarding day. What are some morning routines that you’ve found to be game-changing on your productivity? Share in the comment section below.

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Overstaying Visitors? Effective Ways To Handle Guests Who Overstay Their Welcome

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Haven’t we all been there at some point in our lives?  Maybe you’re currently dealing with overstaying house guests who were only “visiting briefly”. But here you are; two weeks later wishing that today is the day they inform you of their exit tomorrow.

So, what can you do when guests overstay? How do you remain polite, avoid a confrontation and keep your cool in often obvious insensitivity?

Truth is, handling visitors who overstay can be both dicey and unpleasant for anyone. And it doesn’t matter whether they’re overstaying with just a few hours, a few days or even weeks. The result is the same; exhaustion and frustration!

 

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the ways you can effectively manage overstaying guests and eventually get your space, peace and quiet back.

Before anything…………………

Know when and how to speak

With an overstaying house guest, it can be tempting to do anything and everything possible to “kick” this person out.

However, knowing how and when to speak is crucial for everything; whether you just want them out of your house with no qualms about the turn your relations with that person takes after or you hope to continue your relations with that person.

We are encouraged every day to speak up and speak our minds; however, making this skill work for you is usually the hard part. And it shouldn’t be.

 

With overstaying visitors, it can be easy to leave the speaking far too late. When we eventually do, our message is often lost in an eruption of emotions which is usually a mix of both related and unrelated feelings that had been neatly tucked away.

This is usually due to several factors including our upbringing and life experiences. These can over time cause us to lose our voices especially our ability to speak for ourselves when it matters most.  If speaking and knowing when to speak aren’t skills that you have mastered, it is important that you learn how to do so now.

Overstaying House Guests: Things to Do

There are several ways you can manage an overstaying house guest especially one that shows no signs of leaving.

Have the “Dreaded Conversation”: Tell Them That They Have To Go

You’ve been trying so hard to be as hospitable as possible but now you’ve had enough, this guest has to go! While you can try to get your guest to leave with other methods, telling him directly to leave is often the most effective.

Politely but directly convey your message to your guest. Let them know that it is time to leave. You shouldn’t tolerate excuses, so do not spend too much time in a conversation.

You can simply start by telling your guest that while you hate to come across as impolite or rude, you can no longer have them in your home, at least not currently. Be firm and direct with it. Your guest will be able to tell that your decision is firm and final. You can also add that while you appreciate their visits and enjoyed your time with them, you want your space to yourself now.

It may seem difficult but directly telling your overstaying guest to leave once you can no longer have them around is crucial for preventing problems that could ruin your relationship with that guest. You’re not just getting them off your couch but also protecting the relations you may have with this person.

Provide Hints with Body Language

You can always count on your body language to provide hints to things you may not want to put in words. Granted, this step is more aggressive (albeit passively) than the other methods but if it drives home the message, why not?

Providing hints to your visitor with your body language can effectively indicate that you’ve grown weary of their visit and that it is time to go.

For example, if they overstaying by hours, you can yawn when they continue conversations or just continue with your old routine or chores as though they weren’t there.

You can also say things like “glad you came visiting today and I look forward to your next visit”.  Just about anything that will make your guest take the cue and bid you goodbye.

Plan Your Activities

This may not be as aggressive as the body language but it can be equally effective. For long-staying visitors e.g. those on vacations or holidays, an activity schedule will help to “remind” them of their stay duration.

Write down all of the things you plan on doing together, the dates and lastly a spot for the “last day” so they know and plan towards their eventual departure at the end of the vacation.

Plan Outdoor Activities

Including excursions and picnics in your daily activity helps to make sure that your guest spends as much time as possible outside. Aside from being a fun activity for both you and your guest, it will save you time, money and energy you would have spent doing things for the guest at home.

You can also collect brochures for local attractions. And then encourage your visitor to explore the area on his own.

If your guest offers to foot transport costs, tickets during your outings or offers to pay for any other thing, accept it willingly. Over-pampering will not only drill a hole in your pocket but will also encourage your guest to continue overstaying.

Set Rules

It’s easy to get so absorbed in being a good host that you forget to set rules. Always remember that even while you make every effort to be a good host, your space is sacred and so is your alone time in it.

From the onset of their visit, let your visitors know the rules in your home and in clear terms make it known to them that you do not tolerate any violation of these rules; no smoking, no visitors, no pets or any other rule.

It is simply out of respect for yourself and your needs, so don’t feel guilty about it. Setting and spelling out your rules will also help to prevent confrontations from misunderstandings later.

In the end, it still boils down to respecting yourself enough to follow through and knowing how much your peace of mind is worth to speak out for yourself if the need ever arises.

Offer To Gather Up Their Stuff for Them

Any good host would want to ensure that their guests comfortably make it to the door or the bus-stop. Offering to gather up their things for them and help them move to the door is an effective way to let them know that it is time to leave.

On the date slated for departure, provide the offer and to appear interested, ask them questions about their departure and journey.

With overstaying party guests, you could say things like; “let me get us one last drink”, “one last piece of the chocolate chip cookie”. This should tell your guest that the evening is coming to an end.

Involve Them In House Chores

When you let your guests get involved in the house chores or directly assign them house chores, they would understand that the visit is not going to be leisure or relaxation-filled. Not many look forward to house chores so your guest would likely want to leave your home and move somewhere else.

However, the tasks should not be too strenuous or backbreaking. Things like walking or feeding the pet dog, watering the plants or helping you buy house utilities are some of the chores you can push to the guest.

You can also ask that they clean or pick up after themselves every time. Though subtle and less-confrontational, you’d be surprised at how effective it is at getting anyone off your couch. Also, make them pay for their upkeep if they’re going to overstay.

Tell Them That Someone Else Is Expected

As hard as it may be, you may sometimes have to lie to an unyielding, overstaying visitor. You can tell them that other guests are on their way and that you have previously promised to spend some time with them.

 

Final Thoughts

You want to be a fantastic host and you’ve indeed been. But then, not every visitor will be respectful enough to not take advantage. This is where learning to say no and speaking up for yourself will help you avoid being taken advantage of. Be upfront and open in your communication.

And finally, unless you live alone, discuss with others in the home before letting a guest stay. Only let your guest come if they approve of it after considering the arrangement and your family’s comfort levels during the stay. This way, you’ll also have more people to weigh in if your guest tries overstaying.

 

Ever had to deal with an overstaying guest? How did you get them off your couch? Share in the comment section below. Dealing with an overstaying guest right now? Let us know if and how the methods above helped.

 

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