10 Proven Ways to Help Boost Your Mental Energy

brain excerise

Having a healthy brain is essential for all of us human beings. In order for us to contribute adept skills into our daily lives, we should think about how active our minds really are. Increasing your mental energy is great because you will advance your thinking potential while becoming a more well-rounded person. If you would like to improve your overall mental health, then listed below are ten ways you can boost your mental energy:

1. Exercise

In order to get the blood flowing in your brain, you should move around more. Whether it be from aerobics to cardio to a simple jog outside, once your body is moving, your brain will be stimulated for greater activities. Exercising will also increase the oxygen flow to the brain, which helps prevent memory loss common in Alzheimer’s or dementia. By exercising regularly, neurotransmitters known as endorphins are released. These include serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine which can help reduce stress and levels of anxiety, and enhance your mood.

2. Read something that you have never read before

Reading is an effective way to strengthen your higher-order thinking skills. Research has shown that reading a novel can enhance the brain’s neuron connections and improve the overall function of the brain. It was also revealed that reading strengthens the ability to empathize, and stimulates the imagination in a way that the reader was actually watching a movie. It is especially important to read about topics or genres that you have never really exposed yourself to before. This will help diversify your creative thinking abilities and it will also increase the neuronal connections in your brain due to brain plasticity and cognition.
10 Proven Ways to Help Boost Your Mental Energy

Image via: 10 Proven Ways to Help Boost Your Mental Energy

 

3. Get involved in a brain-training program

Brain training programs can help to improve brain plasticity and brain skills like memory, concentration, and many other skills that help boost mental energy.

4. Spend time with amazing people who are close to you

In our world of constant work, school, and other material demands, we often forget to appreciate the wonderful people in our lives. If you want to keep your brain healthy, then spend time with loved ones and individuals who have deep insight into life. Studies show that a strong support system and meaningful friendships are important for the health of the brain. Having a socially active life can help slow the rate of memory decline.

5. Clear your mind from all negative thoughts

Many times, you feel down and depressed because of all the pressing stressors that are rampant in your life. In order to have a sound mental state, try your best to erase all of the negative ideas that enter into your mind.

6. Do things that you are passionate about

Get involved in tons of activities that you never had the chance to do but always wanted to perform. Outdoor activities, sports, painting, watching operas, and more all help to foster creativity skills in the brain and contribute to a healthy mind. Opening up yourself to new experiences will stimulate your brain in a way that can help it adapt to new environments. Also, diversifying the activities you engage in will help sharpen your brain wave patterns. Some suggested activities include: painting, writing poetry, rafting, hiking, gardening, and more!

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7. Meditate

An easy definition of meditation is to be present in the world around you – to be conscious of what is going on by keeping your mind and breath steady. Many people find meditation to be helpful in coping with real-world situations and staying focused on difficult tasks. Jon Kabat-Zinn describes a plethora of benefits of meditation in his book Wherever You Go, There You Are. Some of them include enhancing neuroplasticity of neurons in your brain, boosting your immune system, and increasing the activity of your hippocampus and amygdala, which regulates your emotions.

8. Make sure to consume an adequate amount of water daily

Drinking water is the solution to almost all health issues. Increased intake of water will keep you hydrated during the day and therefore rejuvenate a lethargic brain. The cells of the brain require twice as much energy than other cells of the body and water is the most effective provider of this energy. When the brain has an adequate supply of water, you will think faster and be more focused, and have greater creativity and clarity.
Medical professionals suggest that the average human should be consuming about 64 ounces of water every day. That is closely equal to 8 glasses of water or 4 plastic bottles of water. Lack of water to the brain can cause numerous problems associated with focus, memory, and brain fatigue, as well as sleep issues, headaches, depression, anger, and more.
10 Proven Ways to Help Boost Your Mental Energy

Image via: 10 Proven Ways to Help Boost Your Mental Energy

9. Expose yourself to sunlight

Your body needs the light from the sun in order to function well. Studies have suggested a correlation between people who work after midnight or in locations that have no natural light, like dark factories or mine shafts, and mental health issues, like depression, sleep disorders, and other cognitive problems. This is explained by their circadian rhythm patterns being skewed from the rest of the population and lack of exposure to natural sunlight.

The sun is one of the main sources that can provide Vitamin D to your body. According to the Sunlight, Nutrition, and Health Research Center, low levels of Vitamin D are associated with cognitive impairments. These include the ability to rationalize and to calculate numerical figures. Also, Vitamin D may reduce the risk of of diseases that indirectly affect the brain’s functioning, like hypertension or cardiovascular disease.

10. Get enough sleep

You must get a decent amount of sleep if you want to maintain a healthy brain. To avoid sleep deprivation, the average person needs 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep. Lack of sleep can compromise critical thinking skills, creativity, and problem-solving abilities.

What Are the Health Benefits of Yoga for Women?

BY  ANDREA CESPEDES
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Unroll your yoga mat to experience some amazing benefits. A regular yoga practice offers both sexes increased flexibility, muscle tone, mental clarity, back health and enhanced circulation.

Some aspects of yoga are especially supportive for women. In addition to improving how you feel day in and day out, it can also ease symptoms related to hormonal shifts and health crises, such as breast cancer. Yoga also bolsters your mental health and can ease the stress that often comes with the multiple hats women wear at home and at work.

Hormonal Help

It’s no secret that hormones can wreak havoc on how you’re feeling. Depending on where you are in your cycle, you may have high energy, low energy, mild cramps or be incapacitated with fatigue.

Yoga helps you navigate the most unpleasant feelings of your cycle and ease contractions of the uterus that cause cramps. Moves such as a Reclined Spinal Twist, Seated Twist or Pigeon provide a salve. A restorative practice supports you in times of low energy, while a vigorous flow gets you moving when energy is high.

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During menopause, yoga can help you deal with the changes your body is going through. It’ll teach you to breathe through hot flashes and ease discomfort with restorative poses such as Bound Angle or Reclined Hero. A regular yoga practice helps other unpleasant side effects experienced during this hormonal shift, including insomnia, anxiety, depression and mood swings. Your practice helps with mental focus, so you’re less forgetful and may even calm you enough to help level out an erratic menstrual cycle.

Health Crises

Reach out to yoga during a health crises. In addition to easing anxiety and worry caused by poor health, it can actually improve symptoms and help with healing.

Take breast cancer, for example. Women suffer more than 99 percent of the breast cancer cases reported. A yoga intervention during all stages of cancer, from diagnosis to recovery, offers healing and solace. A 2009 study published in the International Journal of Yoga showed a significant correlation between a regular yoga practice and improvements in breast cancer and treatment symptoms, such as vomiting, stomach distress, pain and constipation.

A 2012 study in Cancer showed that breast cancer survivors suffering from persistent fatigue experienced greater energy and less malaise after a 12-week yoga intervention. Yoga can’t stop the disease, but it sure can offer assistance if you’re afflicted.

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Anxiety and Stress

Women are far more likely to suffer depression than men, showed research published in a 2015 issue of Psychiatry and Neuroscience. Anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed also afflict women in great numbers, reports the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Yoga is instrumental in treating these mental conditions as it helps stimulate feel-good chemicals in the brain, changes thought patterns and helps mitigate the stress response.

Yoga’s positive effects on depression and anxiety occur after just a few months. A study published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice in 2009 found that just two months of practicing yoga in a class environment twice per week for 90 minutes notably reduced perceived anxiety in women.

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Earlier research published in 2007 in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine showed that yoga offers promise in treating depression, too. The rhythmic breathing and chest-opening poses may have a direct impact on uplifting women’s moods.

Posture and Appearance

Yoga teaches body awareness and engagement of muscles you might otherwise forget about. As a result, yoga helps you naturally contract core stabilizing muscles and stand taller, so you look more confident and healthy. Good posture also makes you look thinner.

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Yoga has a direct correlation to weight maintenance, too. It’s not just that it burns calories, but a rigorous style helps. Instead, it seems to create a mindfulness that keeps you making good dietary choices and staying in touch with feelings of satiation, preventing weight gain overtime.

study published in 2005 by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute found that among more than 15,000 people, those who practiced yoga at least once per week for a minimum of 4 years gained less weight in middle age than those who reported little or no yoga practice. Weight gain often hits women hard; yoga may help prevent it.

Skip the studio – 5 benefits of a beach yoga practice

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When I came to Tamarindo I was disappointed to find that there were not any beach yoga classes. I love my heated indoor studio back in the States, but here I was hoping to find something more and take advantage of the amazing outdoor space. Uninspired by the thought of practicing indoors I decided to venture to the beach for my first attempt at a solo practice. I’ve never really enjoyed a solo practice other than refining specific poses and alignment in the mirror – my mind wanders, I get bored and time seems to go by so slowly.
Through my short time practicing out on the beach, I’ve learned so much about myself and my journey as a yogi. Now I not only embrace a solo practice, I crave it. Here are my top five benefits of a beach yoga practice.

1. Deepen your focus:

The saying goes a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. In my opinion the same goes with yoga. You must me present during the storm to test and grow your strength. It is “easy” to practice in a studio when the conditions are perfect – quiet, dimmed lights, no obvious distractions – but can you focus and quiet your mind when tourists are walking by, kids and dogs are running around, and surfers are off in the distance. Practicing on the beach builds a new element of focus, and reminds you to keep going despite all the noise around you.

2. Do what serves you; give up what doesn’t: 

For the past year and a half I’ve been dealing with a shoulder injury. In classes I would awkwardly modify poses that didn’t feel good or reluctantly take child’s pose if the pain was too much. Building a solo practice has made me more aware of my body’s own needs. I no longer feel obligated to practice poses that don’t serve me. I’ve removed chaturanga and other shoulder intense poses, which frees up my time to focus on other areas.  Now I invite in more of what serves me. If my hips are tight, I can focus on that and don’t have to worry about whether a teacher will build-in the poses that I need. If a pose feels good, I can linger there longer without being directed by the teacher’s pace.

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3.  Learn how you show up:

One of my favorite yoga teachers would always say how you show up on your mat is how you show up in life. I love this. When things get tough, will you throw in the towel? Without a teacher guiding your practice and telling you to hold a pose for a few more breaths, or to ignore the sweat dripping down your face or the burn in your quads, it can be tempting to exit poses before things get hard. Practicing on my own I’ve learned to embrace these challenges and stick things out to experience greater benefits. I love finding my new edge or limit each time I practice, and I often notice that when I just breathe through the difficulties I’m able to go to a place in my practice greater than I thought was possible.

4. Set your intention:

A yogi tradition that I’ve come to love is the idea of setting an intention for your practice. This is something I try to do off the mat as well – it is so important to me that actions are inline with intention (it’s like a simple math equation). An intention can be a goal, or an obstacle you need to overcome, or a quality you want to build more of (i.e. letting go of judgment, inviting in love, build clarity). When you practice on your own you can not only set an intention but you can start to build a flow/sequence that helps cultivate this intention in your life. Recently I’ve been setting an intention of becoming more grounded, finding balance, and building focus. In my physical yoga practice I’ve been spending more time on eagle, half moon, and warrior III, which are intense poses that requires you to get grounded, find balance and focus.

5. Share your passion:

If you love it, share it. Why do we keep yoga locked up in studios? Practicing outdoors will inspire and motivate others to try yoga.

Written by: Kale Yogi

Our Healthy Food Series

Canola Oil Is Bad For Health Of The Brain

canola

by  A Health Blog

Research has revealed that canola oil consumption is associated with weight gain, reduced learning ability and reduced memory. The researchers had previously made use of an Alzheimer’s disease mouse model to determine the health benefits of olive oil. They discovered that Alzheimer mice consuming an extra-virgin olive oil enriched diet experienced memory improvement and had reduced amyloid plaque and phosphorylated tau levels. For this current study, they wanted to see if canola oil had the same benefits for the brain.[1]

The researchers wanted to see how brain function is affected by canola oil consumption, so the study was focused on the impairment of memory and the formation of neurofibrillary tangles and amyloid plaques in the Alzheimer’s mouse model. Phosphorylated tau and amyloid plaques, responsible for tau neurofibrillary tangle formation, contribute to neuronal degeneration and dysfunction and Alzheimer’s memory loss. The mouse model was developed to reproduce the progress of human Alzheimer’s from an early asymptomatic phase to the late full-blown disease.

At 6 months old, the mice were split up into 2 groups before developing signs of Alzheimer’s. One of the groups consumed a normal diet, and the other group consumed a canola oil supplemented diet which amounted to approximately 2 tbsp of canola oil a day. They were then examined when they were 12 months old. Body weight was one of the differences seen between the 2 groups, the canola oil-enriched diet mice weighed considerably more compared to those on the regular diet. Additional differences were uncovered with maze tests for assessing learning ability, short-term memory and working memory. The most significant finding was that mice consuming canola oil for six months had working memory impairments.

Brain tissue examinations from both groups showed that mice consuming the canola oil supplemented diet had hugely reduced amyloid beta 1-40 levels, which is the more soluble kind of the amyloid beta proteins. Amyloid beta 1-40 is generally believed to play a beneficial part in the brain, acting as a buffer for amyloid beta 1-42, the insoluble and harmful kind. Because of reduced amyloid beta 1-40, the mice on the canola oil enriched diet also experienced an increase in amyloid plaque formation, with neurons surrounded by amyloid beta 1-42. A considerable reduction in the amount of contacts between neurons was also observed, indicating extensive injury of synapses, the areas where neurons make contact with each other, and which play an important part in memory retrieval and formation. The study results therefore suggest that canola oil consumption is detrimental to brain health.

canoloa oil memeory loss

 

High-Intensity Exercise Helps To Boost Memory

treadmill workout

by a health blog

Researchers have revealed that 6 weeks of intense exercise consisting of 20 minute interval training sessions improved high-interference memory significantly. High-interference memory is, as an example, what allows us to tell our car apart from another car of the identical model and make. The healthy young adults who took part in the study experienced increased memory performance over a relatively short time period after the training sessions.[1]

Those participants experiencing greater improvements in fitness had a greater increase in BDNF as well. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a protein supporting the survival, function and growth of brain cells. These kind of memory improvements from exercise could help to explain the already established aerobic exercise and improvement in academic performance association. As we get older, even more benefits can be expected in people with impaired memory caused by conditions like dementia.

The 95 individuals who participated in the study completed either 6 weeks of exercise training, an exercise with cognitive training combination, and a sedentary control group who did neither. The exercise training and combination training groups both experienced an improvement in high-interference memory task performance, while the sedentary group experienced no improvement. Memory, aerobic fitness and neurotrophic factor changes were measured before the study and after.

The outcome of the study reveals a potential mechanism for how a combination of exercise and cognitive training could be altering the brain to support cognition, which suggests that they work in conjunction through complementary brain pathways for improving high-interference memory. Research has begun to see if older people will have the same results from the exercise and cognitive training combination. One theory is that older people will experience greater benefits since this kind of memory declines as we get older. Neurotrophic factor availability however also declines as we get older and this could mean that the synergistic effects are not experienced. The results could have implications for the aging population that’s struggling with the problem of terrible diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Got Water……..don’t forget hydration during exercise !

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nassar

Catholics, ACLU push back as Michigan bills to protect children from sex assault advance

by  Kathleen Gray

LANSING – A Senate panel unanimously passed a package of 10 bills Tuesday geared toward protecting children from sexual assault, but the vote belied some concerns about the bills from both the Michigan Catholic Conference and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Included in the bills is an extension of the statute of limitations for both civil and criminal cases of sexual assault against children to 30 years beyond a person’s 18th birthday. And the sticking point for the two groups is that the bill makes that extension retroactive for civil cases back to 1993.

“There are constitutional implications on the retroactivity on the statute of limitations,” said Kimberly Buddin, an attorney with the ACLU of Michigan. “This makes illegal an act which was legal when it was committed. … And the Supreme Court has held that increasing statute of limitations retroactively is a violation.”

While the Michigan Catholic Conference supported the bulk of the bills, David Maluchnik, spokesman for the conference, said it still has concerns about the retroactivity.

 

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“We don’t think that does anything to protect children today or going forward,” he said. “There are concerns that it could create new classes of victims. But the bills were just dropped this morning. We need to take a closer look and until we know the impact of the totality of the bills, then we’ll share our concerns with elected officials.”

The Catholic Church has struggled with its own sexual abuse scandals across the country and in Michigan with priests accused of and some convicted of molesting young boys and girls.

More: Sister survivors of sexual assault gather in Lansing to lobby for changing Michigan laws

More: Feds sending more investigators to MSU’s campus

Larry Dubin, a law professor at University of Detroit Mercy, said he was also concerned about the increased penalties for child pornography charges and asked the senators to include an exception for people with developmental disabilities such as autism. He told lawmakers that his adult son is autistic, has problems making social connections and instead retreats to his computer. His son was arrested and charged with possessing child pornography.

“He relies on computer skills to learn about the world without having to interact with people,” Dubin said. “They worked out a plea agreement where he pleaded guilty and had to register as a sex offender even though he’s never been involved sexually with anyone.”

Dubin said he’s been contacted by 80 families with similar situations who have become victims of a very harsh criminal justice system.

“They’re not criminals. They don’t have criminal intent,” he said. “What he did was related to autism and he would never hurt anyone.”

The Senate panel was unmoved by the argument and passed the increased child pornography penalties.

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The current package of bills was written after the sexual abuse scandal surrounding former Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar came to light and more than 250 girls and young women came forward to say they were molested by Nassar during what was supposed to be medical treatment.

The package of bills would:

  • Extend the statute of limitations for civil and criminal sexual abuse claims to 30 years after a person’s 18th birthday;
  • Increase the penalties for possessing child pornography to five years in prison;
  • Expand the number of people who are mandated to report complaints of sexual abuse to include coaches and athletic trainers and increase the penalties to $1,000 and two years in prison for failing to report cases.
  • Clarify the law to ensure that governmental entities, including universities and colleges, do not have immunity from civil or criminal cases of sexual assault.

Senators enthusiastically supported the bills after hearing from some of Nassar’s victims and quick passage is expected in both the full Senate and the House of Representatives.

“I’m a Spartan and I can’t believe that a highly trained coach wouldn’t report this,” said Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “They know what they need to and if they can’t, they belong sitting in a cell next to Larry Nassar.”

Nassar was found guilty of sexual assault in both Ingham and Eaton counties and was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison. He also was found guilty of federal charges of possessing child pornography and has begun to serve a 60-year sentence on those charges in a federal prison in Tuscon, Ariz.

 

 

Top 10 Health Benefits of Sailing

Got Water ?

sailing

by Health Fitness Revolution

Whether you’re out on a lake to relax or competing at high speeds against other boats, sailing can be a great activity for your health and fitness. Not only are you controlling a large vessel, but you’re also adjusting constantly to Mother Nature’s elements, which can be a strong force that challenges your mental and physical fitness.

Here are the top 10 health benefits of sailing:

Muscle strength and endurance: The many activities involved in sailing, like pulling and hoisting of sails to maneuver a boat or a yacht, adds to your muscle strength for your shoulders and back.

Cardiovascular fitness: Sailing can also improve your cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of hypertension, obesity and other heart illness. This is because of the large amount of oxygen uptake that happens when you engage in intense activities.

Mental wellness: Being out on the water puts you in a good mood not just because of the calmness of the water but because of the salty air. The saltiness of the sea air is composed of charged ions that aid in the body’s oxygen absorption, which in turn balances serotonin levels. The more balanced your body’s serotonin levels are, the happier you’re going to be.

 

Lowers stress levels: The swooshing and splashing of water, the rhythmic movement of the yacht and the sound of the wind in the sails can all affect brainwave patterns. This relaxes and soothes a busy and highly stressed-out mind.

Increases agility: The various tasks associated with sailing also help improve your flexibility and agility. Activities like pulling lines or hoisting sails can significantly improve your hand-eye coordination and motor skills.

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Improves concentration: Because many people today are chronic multi-taskers, they should develop a deep sense of concentration. With the ultimate goal of staying safe while on board, sailing enhances a person’s ability to focus even with multiple tasks at hand.

Improves communication skills: To effectively control a boat, the captain and his crew must act as a unified unit. To do this they need to learn how to communicate effectively, especially through non-verbal means. Everyone on board has a crucial role to play in order to keep the ship afloat.

Spatial awareness: Sailing requires the participant to be aware of the dimension of the boat along with the space required for the maneuvering of the boat. By sailing, you can have an increased understanding of how much space something requires; this skill translates to skills required on land as well such as driving.

Organizational skills: Being on a ship requires that everything be kept in “shipshape.” After being exposed to this mentality, other aspects of your life begin to reflect this standard. You will become more organized in your personal life, which will boost motivation to eat healthier, exercise more and increase your quality of life.

Is it possible to recover from Rape and Sexual abuse? Yes or No

by Dr. Laura K. Kerr PHD

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When she was twenty-two years old, philosopher Karyn L. Freedman was viciously raped at knifepoint. She narrowly escaped being murdered and her body disposed, perhaps never to be found. In her memoir, One Hour in Paris, Freedman recounted her efforts to heal from this horrifying ordealNearly 25 years have passed since she was raped, but she has yet fully recovered and doubts she ever will. Even after years of therapy, support group meetings, and educating rape survivors in Africa about the effects of trauma, Freedman claimed:

“The biological truth of my trauma is anchored in me, but it lives there like a parasite. And as I move in and out of recovery I am reminded that however much work I do, healing from a traumatic experience is never complete. This is one of the most significant facts about psychological trauma. It is permanent. The psychological damage that results from the experience of terrorizing life events over which we have no control is profound. It sticks around for life. It is a chronic condition, which makes recovery from traumatic events an ongoing process.”

Freedman’s continued struggle is common. Susan J. Brison, also a philosopher and also brutally raped in France as an adult, wrote the following about the lingering impact of her rape:

“People ask me if I’m recovered now, and I reply that it depends on what that means. If they mean, ‘am I back to where I was before the attack’? I have to say, no, and I never will be. I am not the same person who set off, singing, on that sunny Fourth of July in the French countryside. I left her — and her trust, her innocence, her joie de vivre — in a rocky creek bed at the bottom of a ravine. I had to in order to survive. I now have my own understanding of what a friend described to me as a Jewish custom of giving those who have outlived a brush with death new names. The trauma has changed me forever, and if I insist too often that my friends and family acknowledge it, that’s because I’m afraid they don’t know who I am.”

Although I have never been raped as an adult, I was sexually abused as a child. I spent years nostalgically imagining the person I might have been had I not been abused, and went through periods haunted by nightmares and flashbacks that kept me reliving my twisted fate. Still, I consider myself lucky. I have managed to escape sexual revictimization as an adult, which happens with appalling regularity to women with histories like mine.

Yet like Freedman’s and Brison’s rapes, the impact of sexual abuse persists. Sometimes I fail to see the secureness of my present life because of the protracted shadow of fear that is cast by all forms of sexual violence. Something startles me and I am reminded that safety can be eclipsed in a moment. Even now, I am prone to dissociate the felt sense of my body when I am overwhelmed by fear. I learned to escape in my head conditions that were inescapable in my environment. Some habits are near impossible to break.

It has taken me a long time to honor these survival responses and acknowledge that sexual violence is not something I, or anyone else, fully recovers from, although this is not a reason to give up on recovery. Survivors can and do become strong again — sometimes stronger than they ever imagined — and often graced with an awareness of the fragile nature of life that deepens their capacity for compassion.

But the process of healing from sexual violence is slow, painful, and expensive. And because I have worked hard for a peaceful mind and body, I am protective of them. I have a low tolerance of toxic attitudes and behaviors that might upend my recovery. But I am also quick to stand up to injustices that impact others, and I have witnessed this trait in people like myself who are committed to healing their wounds of violence and abuse. Unintentionally, we become warriors of the heart — the would-be Bodhisattvas and protectors of those less fortunate and vulnerable — those we imagine are like we were before we reclaimed our right to dignity and self-preservation, and those we imagine could become victims like we once were.

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Not everyone likes the justice-seeking aspect of recovering survivors of sexual violence and other abuses. Anyone who needs to exert power over another, needs someone capable of being a victim. Furthermore, the psychological complexes and interpersonal dynamics that lead to subjugation extend well beyond the predator-prey dynamics of sexual violence.

I once had a supervisor describe my penchant to protect others as a “Joan of Arc” complex. This observation followed after I asked her to stop calling my clients names like “bitch,” “putz,” and “schmuck.” Shortly after my objections, I was removed from my position. Had I avoided the work of recovery, I might have lacked the courage to defend my clients, especially given what I sensed (and heard) about this person’s penchant for bullying. Had I not taken the time to address how sexual violence had led to certain defensive behaviors and beliefs in me, I might have continued my early life habit of silencing my objections to perceived wrongs, since this submissive style of defense had protected me. But it’s no way to live, even if the consequence of standing up to injustice is more injustice. The price of dignity can be great, but the price of submitting to injustice is greater.

In large part, although often unconscious, the commitment to heal is a sustained effort at avoiding becoming a victim again. And the changes we make in our efforts to ensure future safety and integrity also lead to resisting abuses of power in all aspects of our lives.

Knowledge is a powerful way to defend against further subjugation. In One Hour In Paris, Freedman shared an extensive knowledge of PTSD, the history of the DSM, and the treatment of psychological trauma. Obviously, I share her desire to know everything I can about healing. Every textbook I have read on the treatment of trauma has been with double vision: one eye on how to maintain my own recovery, the other eye on how to help others with their’s. Having fallen victim once, some of us arm ourselves with knowledge to fail-safe our recovery, but also to ensure we never fall victim again.

One outcome of this unanticipated expertise is a nuanced understanding of the consequences of unrestrained power that includes knowing how to heal from subjugation and avoid further victimization. This is valuable wisdom, and a largely untapped resource. The wisdom of recovery can enlighten efforts at creating a society centered on safety, respect, and fairness.

Because of the insights gained through recovery, I believe the commitment to heal is a generous act, even though the process means focusing intently on oneself. Individual efforts to heal become the groundwork for equality and respect in relationships, families, communities, work environments, and societies. Healing society really does begin with healing its members.

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Granted, as Freedman and Brison shared, even after an extended period of recovery, suffering still happens. No one ever completely gets over being a victim of a sexual predator. Still, with time and effort the reactions can be managed. In the process, the survivor often gains a stronger spirit, greater integrity, and better self-care that together foster a deep caring for others. As Brison also wrote:

“But if recovery means being able to incorporate this awful knowledge into my life and carry on, then, yes, I’m recovered. I don’t wake each day with a start, thinking: ‘this can’t have happened to me!” It happened. I have no guarantee that it won’t happen again, although my self-defense classes have given me the confidence  to move about in the world and to go for longer and longer walks—with my two big dogs. Sometimes I even manage to enjoy myself. And I no longer cringe when I see a woman jogging alone on the country road where I live, though I may still have a slight urge to rush out and protect her, to tell her to come inside where she’ll be safe. But I catch myself, like a mother learning to let go, and cheer her on, thinking, may she always be so carefree, so at home in her world. She has every right to be.”

In what follows, I discuss some of the reactions, beliefs, and emotions that interfere with seeking help following sexual violence, and thus getting the process of recovery started. I have found for myself, and for others I have had the honor to support in recovery, that it is difficult to accept the extent of the damage caused by sexual violence. The tendency is to believe that if you can avoid thinking about the rape or abuse, its impact will fade away. Furthermore, shame, no matter how undeserved, keeps women from seeking help. Taking a trauma-informed perspective can help overcome these obstacles to beginning recovery.

Initial steps towards healing

After sexual violence, most women want to forget what happened, and return to the lives they led prior to the assault. The survivor desires to be the person she was before, and avoid perceiving herself as irrevocably damaged by the rape or sexual abuse. Confusion, humiliation, and hurt are common, and contribute to self-doubt and silence.

Consequently, women often choose a course of action that will protect them from the imagined judgment of others, including avoiding seeking help. And who can blame us? Throughout history, women have been held responsible for the sexual violence perpetrated against them. Remaining silent just may be an archetypal defense response to the anticipated judgment and shaming that across the millennia have been the common response to sexually violated women (along with forced prostitution, stoning to death, and abandonment).

Freedman’s literal cry for help led to the police’s immediate involvement, and eventually the successful prosecution and imprisonment of the man who raped her. (Brison’s rapist was also prosecuted and imprisoned.) Freedman’s family was supportive and protective of her following the rape. However, like many women, Freedman initially shied from telling many about the rape, and instead told people she had been mugged. She also sought only limited professional support following her rape:

“outside of a couple of sessions with a psychologist when I first returned home from Paris (attended at the behest of my parents), I had made no serious effort to come to terms with the experience. I believed — wrongly, as it turns out — that the best way to deal with the trauma of that night was to distance myself from it.”

No one can anticipate the impact sexual violence is going to have, although anticipation isn’t usually needed, since reactions to sexual violence appear rather quickly. In his book, The Trauma Model, psychiatrist Colin Ross gave the following composite description of typical reactions to rape:

“She has nightmares of being chased and murdered, which she never had before. She has repeated intrusive recollections of the rape, sometimes including details she could not previously recall. She is tense, keyed up, anxious and fearful much of the time. She scans the environment for detail and has an extreme startle response to stimuli that previously would not have affected her….

“Because of the nightmares, she loses a lot of sleep. As well, she avoids the nightmares by staying up late. The resulting fatigue begins to affect her concentration and performance at work. She will not let her boyfriend, with whom she previously had frequent, mutually satisfying sexual relations, touch her. When he tries to touch her, she experiences fearful hyperarousal and has to take a shower. She takes at least three showers a day in order to get rid of the dirt on her body and she can still feel the rapist’s semen on her. She develops other psychosomatic symptoms including vaginal pain, painful periods, muscle and joint pains, and diarrhea and nausea.

“… exhausted from lack of sleep, and overwhelmed with traumatic anxiety, she begins to drink in the evenings and uses alcohol to go to sleep. She becomes tired, drained of energy, overwhelmed and despondent. She has many negative cognitions about herself, men and life in general.”

When these reactions are ignored, over time they become the ‘new norm’ as the person she was before the rape, and the woman’s prior way of being in her body and the world, begin to recede.

Freedman suffered many of the reactions Ross described. Finding herself living alone six years after the rape — a relationship ended due to problems with intimacy she believed the rape caused — Freedman’s reactions were exacerbated and became unavoidable:

“I had minor convulsions at the slightest unexpected noise, anything from the ringing of a telephone to the slamming shut of a book. My ability to fall and stay asleep, which had been a struggle since the rape, became seriously compromised. I would lie in bed for hours listening to the pounding of my own heart and trying to close off my mind to the unwanted images that flew threw it. These intrusive thoughts are a form of traumatic flashback, although since I wasn’t actually thinking (or writing or talking) about the rape at that time in my life, these images weren’t usually about me or Robert [the rapist] or the knife grazing lines on my breasts. Instead, the intrusive thoughts were centered on my friends and family, and every possible variation that my mind could configure on each one’s violent and imminent demise. In quick, successive flashes, I would imagine one sister or the other trampled by the crush of an uncontrollable mob, or my grandmother’s head ripped off by a bus whizzing past her, or a friend flattened to death by a crashing plane. At the time, alcohol was the only thing that gave me some temporary relief from these tormenting thoughts….”

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At one point, almost eight years after the rape, Freedman visited a psychiatrist who put her on clonazepam, a medication used to treat insomnia and panic attacks. Freedman never disclosed to her psychiatrist that she had been raped. It also seems her psychiatrist never asked if she had a history of trauma:

“By the spring of 1998 I had finally had enough. I decided that I needed to get some help. I went to see a psychiatrist, which is how I first ended up on clonazepam. Remarkably, I saw this doctor once a month for about a year, and not once in that time did I mention to her that I had been raped or almost killed. At the time I wasn’t even aware of this omission (I realized it only after I went back to see her following a long hiatus). It wasn’t that I had entirely blocked out any memory of the rape, but by this point I had assumed that it was long behind me, and I simply did not connect my wretched inner life with the aftermath of that traumatic experience. The event of August 1, 1990, had fallen off my radar even though I was living it out every day.”

Because many women avoid support, or get the wrong kind of support, or lack appropriate support and services, it’s vital they are told how sexual violence impacts the body and mind. This information is best received as close as possible to the time of the rape or sexual abuse. Knowing what to expect can decrease self-judgment, especially the belief that I should be over this already, which commonly creeps in, along with thoughts of self-blame. Such beliefs contribute to a self-persecuting spiral that increases the likelihood of substance abuse/dependency, along with debilitating low self-worth. Furthermore, substance abuse and low self-worth increase the likelihood of sexual revictimization.

Awareness of common reactions to a traumatic event can also help create a healthy distance from body sensations, thoughts, and feelings triggered by reminders of the trauma, including overwhelming fear that is much like the fear felt during the assault. Knowing these reactions can help disentangle disorienting and often frightening traumatic reminders from the ‘going on with ordinary life’ part of the self — that ‘old’ self who existed before the rape and who the survivor initially desires to become again — or for those sexually abused when young, who they hope to one day become.

Knowledge of natural reactions to traumatic situations is a resource that helps dampen their impact. Like it or not, sexual violence splits a person’s psyche such that when triggered by reminders of the assault, defense reactions are activated and override efforts to get on with ordinary life — including sleeping, working, meeting goals, playing, enjoying intimacy, and the like. This splitting between defense reactions and ‘ordinary life’ is a natural response to threat and overwhelming fear.

Trauma memories are not like regular memories, and the body and mind react to them differently. When sexual assault happens, the body (including the brain) instinctively organizes for survival, and triggers defense responses, such as fight, flight, freeze, submit, or a cry for help. This instinctual drive for survival overrides critically thinking about what is happening, in part because thinking about a threat while it’s happening can slow down survival responses. Instead, energy is diverted away from the frontal lobes — the area of the brain responsible for higher order cognitive processes, which includes creating coherent narratives of events. Without the frontal lobes fully functioning, there is no way to integrate overwhelming sensory information into a coherent, meaningful account of the trauma. Instead, emotional reactions are split-off from sensory memories, muscle memories, perceptions, and thoughts also registered at the time of the traumatic event. Thus, survival comes at a price: fragmented memories in search of integration haunt trauma survivors long after danger has passed.

Rape Pic

Traumatic reminders feel intrusive, whether these reminders are images, emotions, or body sensations. This is the startle response Freedman wrote about, and the panic attacks too. Yet there is also that other part of the self — the one that has relationships, holds a job, sets goals — but the capacity to express this part of the self is continuously overwhelmed by reminders of the attack or abuse. Healing is about regaining the ability to live from that ‘ordinary life’ part of the self — or for the survivor of child sexual abuse, establishing a sense of ‘ordinary life’ that feels safe and life-affirming — without overwhelming defense responses getting activated at inopportune times.

All of us continuously and unconsciously scan for the presence of danger, a process neuroscientist Stephen Porges called neuroception. However, following sexual violence, this natural unconscious process starts to hypervigilantly register potential signs of threat, often to the point of being overwhelmed, going numb, or dissociating. Having experienced the worst, the unconscious mind becomes primed to expect the worst.

The triggered defense responses, such as the desire to fight or flee that weren’t possible at the time of the assault, are once again truncated by overwhelming fear. Thus, the survivor’s own body and mind begin to feel like they are trapped in inescapable horror, regardless that the threat has long passed. Consequently, despite best intentions and well-laid plans, getting on with ordinary life is exceedingly difficult following rape or any form of sexual violence. We aren’t physiologically built to experience something as threatening and overwhelming as rape and sexual abuse and then get on with life as if nothing happened.

Getting back to ‘ordinary life’ begins with being aware of limiting beliefs, overwhelming emotions, and disruptive sensations as defense reactions, and then creating conditions that increase feelings of body safety, emotional safety, and safety in the environment. Some possible reactions to sexual violence include:

  • Self-blame
  • Depression
  • Hopelessness
  • Physical aches and pains
  • Suicidal thoughts and feelings
  • A heightened startle response
  • Irritability, easily angered
  • Fear of intimacy
  • Feelings of mistrust and betrayal
  • Sexual promiscuity or risk-taking behavior
  • Feeling numb, shut down, dissociating
  • Feelings of low self-worth
  • An inability to feel safe alone
  • Catastrophic and morbid thinking
  • Foreshortened sense of the future
  • Self-medicating (e.g, alcohol or other substances) to get to sleep or to control anxiety
  • Overwhelming fear and panic attacks
  • Feeling alienated from other people or foreign to them
  • Living split — a self presented to the world that hides the part of self that feels vulnerable and ashamed
  • Self-silencing around the sexual violence because of feelings of shame

Some of these reactions may seem to contradict each other. Contradiction is the nature of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, which alternatively involves

avoidance of reminders of the traumatic event and preoccupation with them. Reminders may be either real or symbolic, such as Freedman imagining the catastrophic death of family members. The body reacts to both in the same way — as potential threats.

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All of these reactions are the body’s and psyche’s natural efforts at self-preservation and protection from further threats. They are signs of suffering and signs of the need for support. They are not symptoms of a disease or evidence of weak character.

When survivors know the body’s natural reactions to traumatic events, they may be less likely to think there is something wrong with them, and more likely to see such changes as having to do with what happened to them. Unfortunately, however, it is highly probably that all survivors of sexual violence will experience at least some of these reactions.

(Visit this blog post for ways to increase a felt sense of safety.)

The power of shame

The hardest part about healing from sexual violence may be overcoming the shame that keeps women and girls silent in their suffering. Shame increases the likelihood that traumatic stress reactions will go unaddressed and instead become the ‘new norm,’ as ‘ordinary life’ becomes increasingly difficult.

For those of us sexually abused as children, silence is typically how we tried to stay safe — or we were led to believe silence would keep us safe. Shame is also a natural reaction to submitting to sexual violence, which initiates a spiral into low self-worth and blaming one’s own body for failing to protect from the abuse or for failing to hide the reactions to abuse (when of course the blame belonged to another). For those of us sexually abused when young, the splitting of self between defense responses and efforts to get on with ordinary life can become complex and entrenched if the abuse was chronic. And unfortunately, after a history of childhood sexual abuse, it typically takes many years to learn how to live peacefully and safely within one’s mind, body, and relationships and without shame.

Adult survivors of sexual violence are also at risk of becoming entrenched in traumatic defense responses that are exacerbated by feelings of shame. Even when a woman knows she is not to blame — and many doubt themselves — she can feel profoundly humiliated by sexual violence.

Most women, if not all, are aware of societal perceptions of women as irrevocably damaged by sexual violence. Even worse, in some Muslim countries such as Pakistan, Somalia, and Afghanistan, the failure to “resist rape” can lead to a woman’s death. In countries where men are prosecuted for rape, there are still age-old distinctions between the madonna and the whore that were initiated by patriarchal religions thousands of year ago, but continue to influence our collective unconscious and how women are perceived and judged. Women who are raped and sexually abused are regularly judged as at least partially at fault for their victimization. No wonder so many of us stay silent about sexual violence.

In her memoir, Freedman writes the following about how societal attitudes keep women in shame and silence:

“Whether to go public with her story is one of the toughest decisions a rape survivor ever faces…the vulnerability, the shame, the embarrassment, and the inescapable feeling that she should have been able to prevent herself from being attacked, and then some—all reinforced by the myth that, so long as you are careful, the world is a safe place. Rape intersects with multiple taboos—sex, violence, and trauma—and its savage intrusion on our sexuality crosses the boundary into that which is most personal and private. For all these reasons, it is simply not socially acceptable for a woman to speak out about her experience as a rape survivor. This taboo is more deeply ingrained in cultural norms in certain parts of the world, like south-central and eastern Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, where the survivor’s shame extends to her entire family, often permanently, and where the consequences for women who publicly identify as rape survivors can be disastrous, even fatal.”

The taboos that silence survivors of sexual violence also interfere with recovery. Although silence may feel as if it protects from further harm or judgment, it erodes the mind, body, and spirit. When the survivor remains silent, the self hidden deep within may eventually become unidentifiable — or unreachable — even by herself.

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To know ourselves, and fully recover, we must story our lives, and share our stories with others. Especially when there has been sexual violence, we must pull together the unintegrated bits of memory, and make ourselves and our stories whole again. However, storying trauma doesn’t require retelling every bit of the rape or sexual abuse, or even remembering everything that happened. The need to know everything beyond a fraction of doubt is the mindset of the courtroom, not the healing attitude of recovery. Rather, in recovery, we need the experience of what psychiatrist Daniel Siegel called “feeling felt” by another, sharing what we feel and having our feelings validated. Without this experience of “feeling felt,” we further fall victim to our sense of selves as shameful.

But the taboo surrounding sexual violence is real, and telling others about sexual violence can be compromising, even dangerous for some women. Fortunately, there are anonymous resources such as RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, and Pandora’s Project. Eventually, though, most women need professional support and the company of other survivors.

Like Freedman, I started my recovery work with a therapist, then took part in a group dedicated to survivors, and finally began helping others with their recoveries. In areas in the West where therapists and mental health services are accessible, this approach to treatment is common and I believe a good one. There are also specific modalities, such as EMDR and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, that are exceptional at treating traumatic reactions to sexual violence. The eventual goal of therapy is mindful awareness of how defense responses get triggered and learning how not to be overwhelmed by them. Recovery also involves ceasing to be afraid of one’s memories of what happened.

Treatment is most successful when joined with personal efforts at creating safety and peace in daily life. For me, this has included yoga, Buddhism, art classes, self-defense classes, journaling, exercising regularly, and deep connections with people I love and trust (especially my husband). Of course, everyone has unique ways of creating safety and peace, yet all need to make them priorities in their lives.

Recovery also involves feeling part of society without the fear of further violence, or fear of retribution for protecting oneself. Survivors share this aspect of recovery perhaps with all women. None of us really feel safe when rape and sexual abuse occur with regularity and impunity as they do today. Can any women feel safe when nearly 20 percent of women in the US are raped in their lifetimes and 1 in 5 girls in the US are sexual abused before the age of eighteen?  In many countries these percentages are much higher.

Sometimes I go weeks without my fear being triggered, which I feel is quite an accomplishment since I live in a densely populated city. I tend to enjoy these periods like an extended vacation. I know eventually I will read or hear that a woman’s been assaulted somewhere near where I live, or I will personally be sexually harassed. The old fear will be rekindled, although it is muted these days. Still, I am holding out for the possibility of full recovery, and I am waiting on society for the safe environment I need and deserve to get there.

 

Benefits of Swimming: 10 Reasons Every Woman Should Get in the Water

rio swimmer

Got Water?
What is Snorkeling?

by Cozia_Deesign Nov 2017 Outdoor Sports

snorkeling maui

If you ask yourself this question, you probably have yet to try this wonderful underwater adventure.
In our humble opinion snorkeling is one of the best ways of enjoying the ocean. In the water, with your full face mask or snorkeling gear on, you feel disconnected from the mundane and connected with nature instead. This is an experience that can completely redefine the way you spend a perfect day at the beach.
But enough of the deep stuff, simply put, snorkeling is swimming with a snorkel mask so you can enjoy the underwater views comfortably.

Snorkeling is an incredibly fun activity and one of the best ways to explore underwater without worrying you will run out of air. You can simply drift through the water, let yourself relax and enjoy the mysterious beauties of the ocean.

Why do people snorkel?
The simple answer to this is: because it’s incredibly fun. What’s more, we tried to ask as many nature lovers as we could, and everyone had their own answer. There are probably thousands of reasons why people choose to snorkel – from keeping fit to simply relaxing snorkeling is a great sport for all ages. It’s really easy to get started, safe and simply fascinating as you can explore a world you have never seen before.

Also, the costs can be a big plus. The price of a complete snorkel set is usually quite low. You don’t even need to know how to swim in order to be able to snorkel.

Most people snorkel for pleasure and relaxation, and the beauties of the underwater world. With such beauties to behold, it’s no wonder this activity is becoming more and more popular all over the world. There is a certain kind of freedom you can only find in the water, that can’t compare to any other activity.

When compared to scuba snorkeling is much more simple and far less expensive. In order to dive you need a license, special training, and equipment. Many experienced divers learned how to dive only after practicing snorkeling.

Besides relaxation and the freedom of the ocean snorkeling offers many health benefits improving both your mental health.

First, let’s explain what is snorkeling

Snorkeling is basically swimming with a snorkeling equipment which consists of a snorkel mask, snorkel tube, and fins. Additionally, to these items, some swimmers can also use snorkel bests for less experienced snorkelers and special wetsuits in cooler waters. Snorkeling is a recreational activity that offers the chance of observing marine life in a natural setting.

It is appealing for all ages and both to swimmers and nonswimmers.

There is evidence suggesting that snorkeling was practiced in Crete about 5000 years ago. Sea sponge farmers used carved reeds to dive underwater and pick natural sponge for commerce.

According to Wikipedia snorkeling is even mentioned by Aristotle as he describes divers using “instruments for respiration” that resemble an elephant’s trunk.

As technology advances snorkeling equipment became more and more complex allowing divers to explore the ocean’s depths without worries. The material was developed to make perfect fitting snorkel masks and goggles possible. These new designs endure the eroding ocean atmosphere.

Maui_Snorkeling_Tours

What are the basic rules of snorkeling?

The great thing about snorkeling is that the rules are incredibly simple and easy to follow. Basically, as long as you respect the environment and underwater life around you, you should be just fine. Here is a short list of basic guidelines you should always follow:

1. Always know how to prevent and eventually treat snorkeling injuries

You never know what can go wrong underwater so it is best to be well prepared for every scenario. Get well informed about the dangers that you might encounter while snorkeling and make sure you always a first aid kit close by.
Keep in mind that the best way to treat snorkeling injuries is to never let them happen in the first place. With snorkeling, a lot of prevention techniques are simply based on common sense. As long as you always keep your safety in mind as a top priority you shouldn’t have any trouble.
Statistically speaking, snorkeling accidents are very low on the list of accidents happening at the beach.

2. Do not touch, harass, harm or damage any marine life

Always keep your eyes open and be aware of your surroundings. Keep in mind that the smallest touch can damage fragile marine life permanently. Also, there is a large number of things are dangerous to touch and can cause serious injuries.

The rule of thumb with snorkeling is to look but don’t touch. Think of yourself as a spectator to the breathtaking spectacle. You get a wide view angle with a full face snorkel mask instead of a screen and there are plenty things happening for your sensory pleasure.

3. Never snorkel in places where you don’t feel safe

Before choosing your snorkeling spot, get very well informed. Learn about the depth of the water and the surroundings. Keep in mind that water can be deceiving and currents can be deadly.

Be very careful around rocky shores and minimize contact with the reef as much as possible. Also, make sure you always have a buddy by your side and never snorkel alone.
It’s always a good idea to take things slowly, get used to your new hobby before you try more challenging snorkeling spots.

4. Keep calm

Stay calm at all times and be aware of your breathing. Before snorkeling it is best to learn a few breathing exercises in order to make your experience much more pleasurable. These exercises make a significant difference as they gradually enhance the capacity of your lungs and help you stay underwater for a longer period of time.

Try to stay relaxed and swim slowly. Underwater life feels less threatened by a relaxed snorkeler and they won’t see you as posing a threat. They won’t run out of your way and you will be able to enjoy and observe marine life in its natural habitat.

5. Choose the right snorkeling equipment for you

When it comes to the right snorkeling equipment you will find a great number of opinions reviews and articles. The best choice is the choice you feel most comfortable with. It is very important to feel completely comfortable while snorkeling.

Make sure your snorkel mask or goggles fit just right and the tube doesn’t bother you in any way.

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What kind of equipment do you use when snorkeling?

The basic snorkeling equipment includes a mask or goggles, snorkel tube, and fins.

  • A mask covers your eyes and nose keeping the water away and protecting you from any leakage. This is basically your underwater window.
  • A snorkel tube is a hollow pipe attached to your mask. It sticks out of the water and allows you to breathe.
  • Diving fins give you more control and extra propulsion underwater.They will help you swim better and faster.

Optional snorkeling equipment:

  • diving socks if you can’t find diving fins that fit
  • Snorkeling vest essential for beginners.
  • Swim cap
  • Underwater whistle
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What you can expect to see while snorkeling

Depending on the snorkeling spot you choose you can experience a different number of sites and marine species. You can admire incredible life forms, corals, fish and in some places even shipwrecks. Depending on the snorkeling spot the area you can explore is more open or more limited. There are certain school that offer snorkeling tours so visitors can see dolphins, seals , whales and even sharks.

The better you get at snorkeling, the more opportunities to explore you will have. But don’t be impatient, take your time and enjoy every experience as it comes. When out there, it’s really important to always put your safety first.

Keep in mind that no two snorkeling spots are the same so every experience is different. Take advice from more experienced friends and instructors in order to plan your vacations around the perfect snorkeling spot for your experience level.

Top 10 Health Benefits of Snorkeling

  • Improves breathing: Snorkeling increases your maximal oxygen uptake, a good indicator of aerobic fitness. Breathing through a tube involves some resistance and requires greater exertion than free breathing. Snorkelers regulate in and out breaths evenly through the mouth, effectively engaging in a breathing exercise.
  • Overall fitness: Snorkeling is a recreational pastime that can help to motivate, tone and trim you. It works out quads, hamstrings, calves, ankles, hip flexors, core and shoulders. Snorkeling itself improves overall strength and endurance, reduces stress and burns about 300 calories an hour.
  • Cardiovascular health: Snorkeling is also good for your heart, as it increases the heart rate and strengthens the heart muscle. Improved cardiovascular fitness helps decrease the risk of certain health problems, such as coronary heart disease, heart failure, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Snorkeling also helps you build greater lung capacity when you are forced to hold your breath underwater for sustained periods of time.
  • Joint mobility: Like any water-based exercise, snorkeling has the added benefit of providing healthy exercise to those with joint pain, stiffness or obesity problems.  Exercising in the water reduces the impact forces generally associated with other cardiovascular exercises like walking and jogging. If you have trouble exercising because of movement restrictions, consider snorkeling as a means of kick-starting your exercise program. Once you regain some mobility, you can move on to other exercises or increase the frequency and intensity of your snorkeling workout.
  • Mental health: Exercise, including snorkeling, can help relieve stress and anxiety, according to the Mayo Clinic. The controlled mouth breathing required of snorkelers is similar to many of the meditative breathing techniques that seek to relax and calm the body. Snorkeling regularly may help you feel more calm and at ease through simple relaxation.
  • Overcome risk factors: Snorkeling is great for overcoming a fear of diving. Since you don’t have to go deep and you can stand up at anytime, it is a great introduction to what wearing a mask and breathing through your nose feels like. If at any time you feel claustrophobic, just stand up!
  • Better mood: Like all cardiovascular exercise, snorkeling has been shown to release endorphins that elevate mood. Snorkelers must practice controlled breathing in a rhythm similar to that used in many forms of meditation, which can calm the body and promote general relaxation.
  • Perfecting performance: Using a snorkel while training for or learning an aquatic sport can spark dramatic improvements in a short time. Front-mounted snorkels allow a swimmer to practice body position and arm pulls through the water without worrying about turning or raising the head to breathe. Triathletes use the front-mounted snorkel as they work out in the pool with freestyle drills such as side-kick-switch and sculling. The ability to move through the water and to breathe throughout a drill smoothly can build lung and leg strength in a swimmer.
  • Not tough on body: The buoyancy of water eases joint pain and stiffness, facilitating workouts to improve flexibility and endurance. The Wolters Kluwer Health Clinic recommends swimming for people with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing sponditis, conditions that cause inflammation, limited mobility and shoulder and neck problems. Using a snorkel and mask allows arthritis sufferers to limit painful neck movements so they can stick to an exercise routine.
  • Connects you with nature: Snorkeling allows you to encounter the most colorful creatures on earth. Watching their natural habitat and observing their behavior can be very helpful for patients who suffer from anxiety disorders and ADHD.

snorkle turtle

Got Water ?

In the Flu Battle, Hydration and Elevation may be your best weapons

New York Times by Kate Murphy January 2018

women sick flu

According to the misery map of influenza activity in the United States, there’s a good chance that you or someone you know has experienced, or will experience, the agony of this year’s strain, H3N2.

The map , from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, shows that it is a particularly wicked and widespread virus. And the current flu vaccine seems to be mismatched to the virus- in Australia, where flu season comes earlier, it was estimated to be only 10 percent effective.

Hospitals nationwide reported clogged emergency rooms, and pharmacies are experiencing shortages of over-the-counter and prescription flu remedies. and we’re just at the start of the flu season, which doesn’t end until May.

Vulnerable patients with weakened immune systems should consult their doctors, as should anyone who begins to have trouble breathing or feels faint. But for otherwise healthy individuals , the best strategy is to understand how flu affects your body, and practice self care accordingly.

Flu is spread predominantly by droplets in the air. so if you are within 3 to 6 feet of someone who is infected, you are likely to breathe in their germs exhalations. The virus will then latch onto the mucus membranes that line the back of your nose, your throat and your bronchial tubes. Next, the invaders hijack the epithelial cells that make up the mucous membranes, taking over their metabolic machinery, to replicate and make even more virus, which infects adjacent cells.

This initial phase takes one to four days. “The more you inhale, the shorter the incubation period”, said Dr. William Schaffner; an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University school of Medicine in Nashville. “In the beginning, you don’t feel sick. You don’t even know it’s there.”

As the virus colonizes your respiratory tract, your body starts to figure out something is a miss and rallies its immunologic troops in an inflammatory response, releasing proteins  called interferons- because they interfere with alien invaders. Interferons flood your bloodstream and set up camp in your mucus, prompting more proteins called cytokines to join the battle. These protein soldiers circulate throughout your body, ready to rumble.

“Paradoxically, our own soldiers created for the fight are what cause us to have symptoms”, said Dr. schaffner.

“War creates damage and so you get fever and a headache and muscular aches and pains,” which you experience as the abrupt and intense opening salvos of the flu. These early symptoms are usually what distinguishes the flu from just a normal cold.

The achiness and fever also signal that you need to start drinking a lot of fluids. The battle royal being waged inside you will dehydrate you more than you think. You may notice that your urine will get darker and you’ll have to go less often. Experts say to make sure you drink a cup or so of water or other liquid every hour; avoiding alcoholic and caffeinated beverages.

Drinking fluids will diminish your headache and also bolster your immune response because your protein soldiers are conveyed via bodily fluids. Dehydration hampers their movement. It’s one reason people tend to want soup when they’re sick and may crave watery fruits like citrus and melon.

sick with flu

While you may feel rotten all over, the real battle is going on in your respiratory tract where the virus is localized. When the war is winding down, you stop feeling achy and feverish but you have residual inflammation in your throat , sinuses and bronchial tubes.

All those cells lining your mucus membranes have been damaged and are like weeping sores, Dr. schaffner said. That’s why your nose is runny and you start to sneeze and cough to clear out the detritus.

Given this, over the counter medications that suppress your cough and dry your sinuses may not be the best idea.

“Certainly there is the thought that you don’t want to suppress a cough too much or dry out your nasal passages because you want to get rid of the infection,” said Dr. Tara Vijayan, an assistant clinical professor in the division of infectious diseases at the University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine. ” There’s a balance for sure. I don’t think you should suffer unnecessarily, but you need to weigh the true benefit.

Although you want to rest, lying flat all the time can be problematic because it collapses your lungs so you can’t cough as efficiently, trapping bacteria in your respiratory tract. If the virus destroys enough cells in your bronchial tubes it creates openings for bacteria to get into your lungs, which can lead to pneumonia, a potentially life threatening complication of the flu.

When your lungs are vertical rather than horizontal, “you’re able to breathe deeply and freely and you’re able  to cough out any inadvertent material, even microscopic bacteria, that get down into bronchial tubes,” Dr. Schaffner said

CDC recommends people who are hospitalized or at high risk for complications of the flu, such as older patients, pregnant women and those who are otherwise immunocompromised, take the antiviral drug oseltamivir, sold under the brand name Tamiflu, because observational data indicate  it might reduce the likelihood of death.

Other researchers, including those at the Cochrane Collaboration, disagree, saying that there’s not enough evidence to support  taking oseltamivir or its chemical cousin zanamivir (brand name Relenza). They question the wisdom of spending billions stockpiling them as many countries, including the United States, began doing amid fears of a future flu pandemic in the mid 200’s. Indeed, the World Health Organization last year downgraded oseltamivir from its list of essential medicines. It may or may not help, depending on which study you look at.

For healthy people who get the flu, most researchers agree the data indicates oseltamivir taken within 48 hours of onset can reduce the duration by about two-thirds of a day. But at around $154 for a course of the medication, that may not be worth it, given that the side effects include nausea and vomiting.

“We wish we had better drugs that could wipe out flu,” said Angela Campbell, a medical officer with the CDC’s Influenza Division. But she said oseltamivir is”what we have right now” and in outpatient situations “it’s really the clinician’s decision with the patient based on a number of factors,” including cost and effectiveness, whether it should be prescribed or not.

The CDC also still recommends getting this season’s flu shot, despite its questionable prophylactic value, because it might reduce the severity of the flu should you contract it. In previous years, against strains other than H3N2, flu shots have reported effectiveness of about 40 percent to 60 percent.

But beyond that, rest, fluids, not staying horizontal all day and perhaps also letting in fresh air and sunlight are the best things you can do for yourself. To prevent friends, family members and colleagues from getting sick, keep to yourself until 48 hours after your fever has subsided and you’re feeling better.

While you may continue to cough for weeks, Dr. Schaffner said you probably aren’t infectious. Just annoying.

Got Water ?

Surfing…the Health benefits.

Surfing originated in Hawaii. These days, people surf all over the world – wherever there is a wave. Australia has almost 40,000 kilometres of coastline, with many surf beaches. Surfers enjoy the physical benefits of paddling and surfing, being in the fresh air, as well as the overall benefits of surfing.

Surfing provides many health benefits including:

  • cardiovascular fitness – from paddling
  • shoulder and back strength – these muscles will strengthen from the paddling
  • leg and core strength – once you’re standing up on the board, strong legs and a strong core will keep you up.

Other benefits of surfing

Surfing provides a range of other benefits. It is:

  • a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy the natural environment
  • a good outlet for stress and tension.

Getting started

Surfing is not as easy as it looks. It is worth taking some lessons to give you the basics and hopefully get you up on your feet.

As surfing involves the ocean, you should be a strong swimmer and always be aware of the safety aspects of being in the surf. If you are not sure about a suitable surfing spot, ask the local lifesavers or surfshop.

Having the right equipment is essential to get the best out of the surf. Your board should suit your body and your ability. For example, start with a long board as they are easier to stand up on, paddle and ride. Wear a wetsuit if necessary to keep you in the water long enough to learn.

Paddling your board

There are three main methods to use when you paddle your board in the water:

  • Arm paddling – this mainly involves your arms. You need to position your body towards the nose of the board, keep your feet together and paddle with your arms using a freestyle swimming action (alternating your arms).
  • Kick paddling – this mainly involves your legs. You need to slide your body to the back of the board so your legs are free to kick.
  • Combination arm and kick paddling – this involves using both methods, which will help you to move more quickly.

Stand up paddling

Stand up paddling (SUP) brings together the skills of long boarding and paddling in a very dynamic way. Stand up paddlers stand on a board and use a long paddle to move through the water.The SUP boards have dimensions that are much larger than the everyday surfboard or long board and so the techniques to ride this equipment vary from it.Using the paddle adds another dimension to your surfing experience. As SUP is a new and developing discipline of surfing, the physical aspects to long-term participation are unknown at this stage.The health benefits and safety precautions are similar to surfing and long boarding, but SUP riders need to be aware that their equipment is larger and more dangerous to others in the surf.[

Surfing etiquette

Although surfing tends to be a fairly free sport and a mostly recreational activity, there are certain rules based on common sense that are important to consider, including:

  • If someone is already riding a wave, don’t try to paddle around them.
  • The person closest to the breaking wave has right of way.
  • Respect other riders’ right of way.
  • Share the surf and don’t steal other riders’ waves.
  • Remember that surf board riders cannot surf in between the flags on a patrolled beach.
  • Don’t take it out on other people if you’re having a bad day. Respect other people, their gear and their belongings. This applies not only in the water, but on the shore and in the car park.
  • Always apologise and make sure that everyone is okay if you make a mistake and cause a collision.

Learning to read the ocean

The ocean environment is a relaxing place, but it can also be dangerous. You need to be able to identify the safe and dangerous spots. People getting caught in rips are the cause of most surf rescues. A rip is a strong current running out to sea. You need to know how to identify and avoid them.

Where there is a rip you will see:

  • darker colours in the ocean (indicating deep water)
  • murky brownish water caused by sand being stirred from the bottom of the ocean
  • smoother surface with much smaller waves, alongside white water
  • waves breaking further out to sea on both sides of a rip
  • debris floating out to sea.

Enjoy surfing but at the same time be aware of rips, as they can pull a weak or tired swimmer out into deep water and into trouble.

Avoiding injury

Here are some tips to follow before you hit the waves:

  • Check the beach and make sure you are not alone – take a friend.
  • Look for any restrictions on the beach and follow them.
  • If you are a beginner, stick to beach breaks with a sandy beach.
  • Make sure the top of your board is waxed up or has some form of grip and check your leg rope is in good condition.
  • Wear a leg rope tied to your surfboard if you are a beginner.
  • Wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days.
  • Wear what makes you comfortable, everyone has different tolerances for cold water. If you would like some protection from the cold, wear a wetsuit, steamer, booties, gloves or head gear.
  • Watch the area before you go in to see the best place to paddle out. Watch other people to see how they are getting on out in the surf.
  • Warm up before entering the water.

Things to remember

  • Surfing has benefits for your health and overall wellbeing.
  • You need to take care in the water at all times.
  • Choose the equipment and the surf spot that’s suitable for your ability and fitness.