5 ways to ease social anxiety

If you have a fear of social situations, become anxious when social interaction is expected and fear being judged, criticised or embarrassed then you may be suffering from social anxiety. While many of us feel anxious about large events or speaking in front of groups, for many just the prospect of going to events and large gatherings makes them anxious. If you are someone who suffers from social anxiety, there are a few ways that you can help to ease this.

  1. Take a friend
    It’s always daunting meeting new people and going to dinners and events where you don’t know anyone. There’s often the fear of having no one to talk to, not knowing what to say, or being worried you’ll say the wrong thing. Wherever possible take a friend with you. Not only will they help to keep you relaxed, you’ll always have someone to chat to. It can be a lot easier to mingle with two of you rather than just on your own.
  2. Have an out

If you’re worried you’re not going to be able to survive the whole event, have an excuse pre-prepared. “I can come but I may need to leave early”, is all you have to say. Don’t make up an elaborate lie (which will probably just make your more anxious), just keep it simple. A statement like this gives you an option to politely leave if you need to, and also allows you to stay till the end if you’re having a good time.

5 ways to ease social anxiety

  1. Arrive Early

If you arrive late to an event, especially one where you don’t know anyone, it’s likely that everyone will have already formed groups and be chatting. Having to approach a group is daunting for most people, but especially for those with social anxiety. If you are one of the first to arrive you will often find that people will approach you and start a conversation and then the group will form around you.

  1. Learn some breathing techniques

Anxiety escalates quickly so learning how to focus on and manage your breathing can help tremendously.  If you are seeing a therapist for your anxiety they should be able to help you with some techniques. If not, try taking a friend to a yoga class and focus on some of their tips and methods.

5 ways to ease social anxiety

  1. Limit alcohol

While your fist instinct may be to grab a glass of champagne to help you feel more relaxed, it’s best to face these types of situations with a clear head.  Stick to soft drinks or tea and coffee if you can, or if drinking is expected stick to only one.

Social anxiety is a real and very daunting condition. These tips should help you feel better about social situations and make them a little less scary, but if you find that you are struggling and need help then the Beyond Blue website has some great resources and advice. You should also talk to your GP who can refer you to the right people for support.

social anxiety

Don’t Skip Breakfast! Quick and Easy Ways to Fit in Breakfast When You’re Busy

It’s not breaking news that breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day, but it seems that many of are not listening. In fact, a Harvard study found that up to 30% of us are not eating breakfast. While it’s easy to preach the importance of breakfast the reality is that most of us are busy in the morning. We’ve got early meetings, trips to the gym and getting the kids ready for school – not to mention the school drop off! Some days just getting out of the door on time is an achievement and breakfast is way down the list of priorities.

If you’re like me and always find yourself skipping breakfast due to a busy schedule, then these tips should help.

5 quick and easy ways to fit in breakfast

Quick and Easy Ways to Fit in Breakfast When You're Busy!

1. Make Smoothies

A smoothie is a quick and easy way to get a healthy breakfast when you’re in a rush. To make it even quicker you can make up smoothie bags – zip lock bags full of your ingredients that are kept in the freezer. I like to use banana, berries, chai seeds and a dash of honey, but the flavour options are endless. Simply pull them out of the freezer, add your milk of choice and blend. If you don’t have time to drink one at home, pop it in a travel cup and take it with you.

2. Make an Omelette

Omelettes are another healthy breakfast that you can prepare in advance. Chop up your fillings the night before (you can normally do a few days at a time) and then in the morning all you need to do is crack your eggs, add your bag of ingredients and wait the 3 or 4 minutes for it to cook. Breakfast in under 5 minutes! Add a slice of wholemeal bread for a more substantial meal.

3. Make Breakfast Muffins

Muffins don’t have to be unhealthy and there are some great recipes around for breakfast muffins. Make these in bulk and freeze them and then you can grab one on the run as you rush out the door. We really like this recipe and it freezes really well.

Quick and Easy Ways to Fit in Breakfast When You're Busy!

4. Keep breakfast foods at work

If you know you are often arriving at work without breakfast, why not embrace this and be prepared. Stock your work fridge with bread, cereal or yoghurt so you’ve always got something to eat when you get there. Even if your workplace doesn’t provide much it can be worth investing in a cheap toaster or a blender so you can make smoothies at work. Ask around the office and I’m sure others will chip in!

5. Keep it simple

Yes, it’s nice to have a lovely breakfast but sometimes you have to go with the easiest option. A slice of toast of a tub of yoghurt or a breakfast bar is better than nothing. Having a simple fall back option helps to ensure that you’re not left without. Stock your fridge with a few individual tubs of yoghurt that you can grab on the way out or pop some toast in while you’re getting ready. Any breakfast is better than no breakfast.

While it seems like you’re too busy, with a little bit of pre-planning you should find eating breakfast possible even with the busiest of schedule. It’s worth it – you’ll have more energy, be less cranky and start the day on a positive note!

5 reasons you need to switch off on weekends

Do you ever switch off on the weekend? We mean really switch off. We’re guessing the answer is probably no. It seems that the days of Saturday and Sunday being ‘family time’ and work free days have long gone, and to be honest most of us wouldn’t remember a time when working weekends wasn’t the norm for many career paths.

Regardless of your job, it is generally recognised that employees are entitled to two full days off a week, whether that be the actual ‘weekend’ or other designated days. Sadly, the work/life balance is often leaning too far towards the work side and we are finding ourselves blurring the lines and working on our days off. Even if you work for yourself, you’re not immune from this – in fact you’re probably one of the worst offenders!

If you’re guilty of this, there are some great reasons to start switching off on weekends:

5 reasons to switch off on weekends

You will be MORE productive if you work less

A Harvard study (and many other similar studies) has found that working more hours does not make you more productive in the long run. You are more likely to make mistakes, have accidents and spend time on tasks which are unimportant. In fact the study confirmed that having predictable time off (like weekends and holidays) actually made people MORE productive.

Family time is important too

There’s no doubt that family time is one of the main sacrifices that we make when working longer hours, and even if we are at home we are still contactable via so many methods. We lead such busy lifestyles, our children too, that the little time we do get for quality family time should be cherished. Emails will wait, phone calls can be returned and that report will still be there on Monday. Switch off your devices and head out to the park with the kids!

5 reasons to switch off on weekends

We need to distance ourselves from work

Traditionally work ended as we left the building, but now we carry work with us everywhere we go. It’s so easy to check in to see how a project is going, quickly reply to that email or have a scan of that report that you were just sent. Think about how much time you spend on your devices when you are away from work, and then think about how many of those tasks were urgent. Challenge yourself to go a whole weekend without doing any work related tasks (yes email counts!) and see how much better you feel by Monday.

Your mental and physical health will improve

Always being ‘connected’ and ‘switched on’ isn’t good for your mental health. Anxiety and stress generally increase when we are switched on all of the time. Schedule family and leisure activities into your weekend and treat them as you would any other appointment – do them! You’ll return to work feeling much more refreshed and relaxed.

You might enjoy it!

Once you get into the habit of switching off on weekends, you’ll have the challenge of finding other ways to spend your free time. Imagine the possibilities, and think of all the fun things you could be doing instead!

We challenge you to switch off for a whole weekend! What have you got to lose?

reduce stress

How to de-stress when you have a busy lifestyle

It’s no surprise that most of us are living lifestyles that are busier than ever before. Time is becoming a precious commodity and the rise of the ‘time poor’ culture is definitely upon us. The busier we become the more stressed we tend to be, but it doesn’t have to be this way. While it may seem that we are ‘too busy’ to concern ourselves with our health, taking a few moments each day to de-stress can make a significant difference to our mental health.

Some simple ways to de-stress include:

Exercise

Exercise is such a great way to de-stress. The type of exercise varies for everyone, but the studies conclusively show that consistently participating in some form of physical exercise is good for both your physical and mental health. The type of exercise doesn’t really matter and will differ for everyone – the main thing is to get moving! If time is an issue try to schedule your exercise on the way to or from work. Ride your bike or walk to work or fit in an exercise class on your lunch break. You’ll feel better for it and you might just enjoy it!

Leave the Office!

Even if you’re so busy that you don’t have time to take a break, at least take a location break. Grab your laptop or iPad and go to a local café with Wi-Fi or hotspot to your phone and work at the park. A simple change in location (especially if accompanied by a nice cup of coffee) can put you into a much better mood. The work is still getting done, but the change in scenery will be helping your stress levels to decrease.
how to destress when you lead a busy lifestyle

Schedule in your ‘de-stress’ time

Think about the one thing that you can do each day to ease your stress and put it in your diary. Treat it like any other appointment and stick to it. What you choose to do will be different for everyone. For some it may be a new hobby, a long walk, a session of yoga or a visit to the gym. For others it could simply be a cup of coffee and a chance to flick through a magazine or read a book. Either way – prioritize it and make sure you do it!

Get enough sleep

It’s a common misconception that the more busy and stressed we are, the less we should be sleeping. In fact the opposite is true. By prioritizing sleep, you will increase your productivity and be more alert and better equipped to deal with the stresses that the day throws at you.

how to destress when you lead a busy lifestyle

Out source

If you’re finding it stressful to do it all, sometimes it might be worthwhile to outsource some of your tasks. This could be as simple as having your groceries delivered or getting a gardener to mow the lawns, but in reality almost everything can be outsourced these days. Think about the tasks that stress you out the most and see if someone else can do them for you instead.

While it may seem like stress is just a part of life when you’re busy, it really doesn’t have to be. In the long run, taking the time to de-stress is hugely beneficially to all aspects of your life. Why not start now? Choose one activity that you know will decrease your stress levels and just do it!

reduce stress

5 simple tips for better sleep

Everyone needs to sleep but not everyone can just sleep when they want to. The Australian Sleep Health Foundation survey says “Australians are suffering from a fatigue and exhaustion on a daily basis due to inadequate or ineffective sleep”. The statistics are shocking.

Professor David Hillman, president of the Sleep Health Foundation, says at least nine per cent of all serious road crashes in the country are due to fatigue – a total of 25,920 injuries per year with associated costs of $277,912 per accident.

“It is time for people to make sleep a priority: 18 per cent of adults regularly sleep less than six hours per night and 20 per cent suffer chronically from poor sleep, half of these from a sleep disorder and the remainder from poor sleep habits,” Hillman said.

So try out these five tips to find that elusive good night’s sleep.

Keep bed time sacred

Go to bed the same time each night and wake up the same time each morning. We do the same thing for kids but we somehow forget to do it for ourselves as adults. Your body will figure out your sleeping rhythm and it’ll help you get a better sleep each night.

Avoid certain foods at night

Don’t be hungry or full closer to your bedtime, but most of all avoid anything with caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes or sugar. Stimulants will keep you awake and although alcohol can kick you unconscious, it won’t be a peaceful night’s sleep.

No screen time

We all know that kids should not have any screen time before bed because it affects their sleep. But we forget that the same rules apply to grown ups. There are several studies already conducted about how exposure to smart phone screens is related with lower sleep quality. Screens are becoming a regular part of everyone’s life. But the study showed that longer average screen time was connected with poor sleep quality and less sleep overall.

Read instead

If you can’t scroll through Facebook or Instagram before bed then what are you supposed to do? Reading, apparently. People who read have greater memory and mental abilities, and are better thinkers and speakers. But apart from that, reading also helps fight insomnia. A study showed that a mere six minutes of reading reduces stress by 68 per cent. This activity clears the mind and prepares the body for sleep. It doesn’t even matter what book you’re reading so you can read whatever you want.

Exercise is key

Doing any physical activity during the day actually helps with sleep. You don’t need to go on a 10K marathon or an F25 training. Even walking for over 30 minutes helps. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a study showed that people sleep a lot better and feel more active during the day if they get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. So get walking!

Try out these tips and write down what difference you feel after each night. This way, you have a good idea of what is working and what is not.

Sleep well!

5 lifestyle changes for a healthier you

Making lifestyle changes is not something you can do overnight. Making rash ‘resolutions’ often leads to a committed week or two before going back to your old habits. That’s why many psychologists recommend making gradual switches to your lifestyle rather than simply quitting your bad habits cold turkey.

Here are 5 habits that can easily be switched, resulting in a healthier you

Switch late nights for more sleep

If you’re a night owl there’s a good chance you’re getting less sleep than you need. It will come as no surprise that sleep is important, but often the reasons people stay up late (to work, study etc.) are working against them. Studies constantly show that lack of sleep actually makes you less productive, less efficient and can be a factor in reduced health. Try to switch your late nights for a consistent 7-8 hours sleep and you should soon find yourself more energetic and more productive! The odd powernap can’t hurt either!

lifestyle changes for a healthier you

Switch processed food for ‘real’ food

This one simple switch will make such a big difference to your health and diet. By avoiding highly processed foods and eating food made from real, fresh ingredients you will instantly reduce your intake of salt, high fructose corn syrup, sugar and unhealthy fats. You don’t need to make everything from scratch, and you can still eat out, just read the labels and check the ingredients. There are fresh, healthy versions of almost all meals and I guarantee they’ll taste better, and make you feel better than something processed from a packet.

lifestyle changes for a healthier you

Switch soft drink for water

Soft drinks contain empty calories and a LOT of sugar. Even the ‘diet’ versions are full of sweeteners that have questionable health benefits.  Empty calories are just that – food or drink that add nothing essential to your diet. Water contains zero calories and is an essential part of a healthy diet. By switching your soft drinks for water (add some lemon or lime for flavour, or try sparkling water instead) you’ll be reducing calories, increasing your hydration and enjoying the numerous health benefits that water provides.

lifestyle changes for a healthier you

Switch driving for walking or riding

I’m sure we’re all guilty of taking the car when we really could walk. Driving to the corner store, or taking the car to get lunch when we could have walked instead. We have become so reliant on our cars that we often forget that the option to walk is still there. Not only are you increasing your exercise, you’re getting all of the other benefits of walking – fresh air, sunshine and a chance to de-stress. If you own a bike, try scheduling a bike ride into your day, or at least on a weekend. If you have kids, take them with you – they’ll love the opportunity to ride their bikes with you. Challenge yourself to see how many times you can leave the car at home!

lifestyle changes for a healthier you

Switch your bad habits for something fun!

We all have our bad habits. For some of us it’s drinking or smoking, for others it’s chocolate cake or ice cream. It’s easy to say ‘give it up’, but often it’s not as easy as that. Why not save the money you would spend on your ‘bad habit’ and use it for something you enjoy. A new book, a trip to the movies or coffee with a friend. By rewarding yourself, you’ll find that it’s easier to make the transition and you’ll be more motivated to continue.

Don’t be too tough on yourself.  Making lifestyle changes isn’t easy and it’s something that can be done gradually. If you slip you, simply make the right choice next time. Each time you choose the better option, you’re a step closer to a healthier lifestyle. What are you going to switch today?

5 Simple Ways to Reduce Stress

We now live in such a connected environment that it is so easy to always be ‘on’. With email and social media at our fingertips it’s so difficult to actually switch off and this is one of the many reasons that people are experiencing more and more stress. Reducing stress isn’t difficult, it’s just an issue that is often overlooked.

This year we’re encouraging you to take a quick time out each day to take time for YOU and here are 5 easy ways that you can reduce your stress levels:

Walking

Sometimes the simplest strategies are the best. When you feel your stress levels rising, go for a walk. Leave your phone behind or use it to listen to your favourite music (no checking emails!) and just walk. Even the experts at Harvard agree that walking is a great stress buster.

reduce stress

Say no

It’s no joke that we are a society that is getting busier and busier. Often our days start with breakfast catch ups and end with after work drinks and down time is becoming rare.  If your life feels like a never ending round-a-bout then it’s time to start saying no. No one will think less of you for declining events and choosing to stay at home instead.

Unplug

Often we are so connected to the world, especially with our phones and social media that we never actually have the change to switch off. Gone are the days of leaving work and not thinking about it till you get there tomorrow, or going home and reading a good book. We are always checking Facebook, comparing our lives to those on Instagram and receiving emails and messages till all hours. To really relax try to un-plug. Switch off your phone (yes really – it will turn back on I promise!), turn off the TV and laptop and enjoy some tech free time. You’ll be amazed at how good you will feel.

Exercise

It really is true that you’ll feel better after some exercise. It also combines a few of the strategies above. Add your exercise time to your calendar, say no to conflicting appointments and unplug while you’re exercising. I promise you it will make you feel better when you’re done, no matter how much you try to talk yourself out of it to start with!

Read a book

Reading seems to be a lost art these days, but escaping into a good fiction novel is a great way to forget about the worries of the world. Studies show that reading really does release stress. In fact this article shows that reading for only 6 minutes will start to reduce your stress levels significantly. Go on, grab a great book and start reading!

I encourage you to put aside the time to do at least one of these things each day. It’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of day to day life, however taking 30 minutes to an hour a day to focus on stress reduction will be worth it. What are you waiting for?

reduce stress

You can also take a quality supplement to help reduce stress. Hivita Stress is a complete multivitamin formula that helps relieve stress, nervous tension and mild anxiety. It may also reduce tiredness, elevate mood and boost energy levels

5 Things to do when anxiety creeps in this festive season

It’s supposed to be a time of joy and time spent with loved ones, and for the most part Christmas and the festive season is all of that and more – but for some of us, it can also bring about an anxiety that creeps its way into these moments and makes you wonder why you bother to be a participant in such a busy and often chaotic time!

It’s not surprising that anxiety can come and find you during the holidays. Maybe you’re worried about Christmas lunch being at your house this year, or perhaps there are certain members of your family you would prefer to avoid. There’s also the exhaustion that comes with trying to keep up with the Christmas functions of your work, your partner’s work and your children’s school or kindergarten.

Here’s 5 things you should definitely try when faced with anxiety this festive season

1. Exercise

Walking is a great way to reduce anxiety. If you’re feeling overcrowded or consumed by all the ‘busy’ then a walk can help you regulate your breathing, provide distraction and clear your mind. If walking isn’t your thing there’s also running, yoga, pilates, dance, weights or anything else that gets you moving!

2. Eat Well and Boost Your Nutrition

When you’re feeling anxious you will probably just want to reach for the rest of your Advent calendar or the ice cream tub, but eating well is what you really need. Swap alcohol for water and dish up a delicious seafood platter to get those Omega 3 fatty-acids into your body. Your physical and mental health will thank you for it. For an extra boost, try Hivita Stress: a complete multivitamin formula to help fight stress and fatigue and relieve mild anxiety.

3. Take a Nap

If you’ve had a lot of late nights or your mind is just tired of all the rushing around and commitments then put your feet up and take a nap. It can be easier said than done, but if you lay down with your phone out of reach you might find yourself nodding off. You’ll wake up feeling refreshed and focused.

4. Adjust Your Priorities

If everything is considered ‘high priority’ on your list, then you’re bound to become anxious. If the anxiety starts to wash over you, immediately adjust your priorities. Take a few things you thought were top priorities and reconsider them. They can become a low priority or something that can be wiped off the list completely. Once you say ‘no’ to something you’ll free up time to relax and you’ll feel better for it.

Tell a Friend

Some of us might want to crawl under our bedcovers and ignore the world for a while when stress and anxiety loom, but talking a friend might actually help validate your feelings and they might offer you a fresh perspective on how to handle a situation.

If you’re feeling stressed and anxious during the festive season, always remember there’s a solution and it won’t last forever! Keep on top of your physical and mental health and you’ll find yourself relaxed and enjoying yourself. Look no further than Hivita to find the best vitamin range to suit you and your family during the festive season and any other time of the year.

Thanks to Angela from School of Mum for sharing her tips with us. 

Christmas anxiety

10 secrets to healthy living

Want to know our simple secrets to healthy living? Here’s our top 10 secrets for healthy living now, and well into your later years:

  1. Drink enough pure, filtered or spring water each day to produce light, straw-coloured urine and a pink, moist tongue
  2. Save drinking alcohol for special occasions only, never as a daily ritual, indulgence or addiction. It is a poison that your liver can only handle in small quantities without decompensating. Alcohol drinking predisposes us to many cancers
  3. Drink coffee the way they do in Europe, not the USA – sipped slowly, ideally without milk, in the company of a good friend or a good book.
  4. Gluten-free is not necessarily a healthy or balanced diet choice – only avoid eating glutens if you know you are sensitive to them or have coeliac disease
  5. Take your shopping trolley to the local organic or growers’ markets each weekend to select fresh, seasonal produce
  6. Eat a predominantly vegetarian wholefood diet, with 50% raw foods, with the addition of wild fish, seafood and occasional organic meats
  7. If you are in a relationship, enjoy a healthy, mutually-respectful sex life. Good sex keeps you beautiful, fit and glowing. It also balances your hormones and brain chemistry to create serenity and enjoyment
  8. Don’t blame anyone, even yourself, for anything, ever. Dare to be happy
  9. Smile at every opportunity, at people you don’t know, without fear of judgement
  10. Choose love instead of fear in every moment

21 ways to stay healthy when you sit at your desk all day

For those of us who sit down at a desk most of the day, health and well-being aren’t always easy to work into our lifestyles. Still, the facts show that we must be proactive about eating well and moving enough during the day in order to avoid weight gain, stress and flagging fitness.

Sitting down all day long is one of the worst things for your health, as it increases the likelihood of heart disease and weight gain — amongst other ills. We sit down at the office, then we sit in the car, and once home, we sit to eat and watch TV!

What to do? Small changes, practiced consistently over a long period of time, are the best way to increase health and well-being. Here are 21 easy-to-adopt ideas to get inspired. Remember, you don’t have to do them all!!

1. Take hourly breaks.

Every hour, get up from your desk and go for a quick walk anywhere (furthest restroom, copy machine, water cooler, colleague’s desk). Just move.

2. Stretch or move in place.

Don’t have anywhere to go? Touch your toes, walk or march in place for a few minutes, do a good set of jumping jacks (who cares what your neighbor thinks!).

3. Take a meeting on the move.

Have a meeting or brainstorm scheduled? Do it while you walk — not only good for fitness, but helps manage stress and fires up creativity!

4. Treat elevators, escalators and moving walkways as the enemy.

Unless you work at the top of a 40-story building, consider elevators your enemy. Ditto for escalators and walkways.

5. Forget phone and email.

Not always practical, but try visiting your colleagues in person every once in a while.

6. Walk at lunch.

Have an hour for lunch? Use half to eat, half to walk. Round up a few colleagues and make it a weekly date.

7. Count it out.

Get a pedometer and try to clock 10,000 steps per day.

8. Ditch the car.

When possible, walk, bike, run to work. If you live too far away, try parking far away from your destination and walking part of the way. Or get off the train/metro/bus several stops early.

9. Do something active before you get home.

Stop at the gym/pool/track on the way home from work.

10. Wake up earlier.

The easiest way to work more fitness into the day is with a DVD (yoga, cardio, strength training). Get moving before the rest of the world wakes up!

11. Schedule your weekly fitness on Sunday night.

Studies show that scheduling what you eat and when and how you exercise is the best way to stick to a healthy lifestyle. Write it down!

12. Set alarms on your computer or mobile device.

Every hour at work, have a little ringer go off to remind you to take a stretch or walk to the nearest copy machine.

13. Organize your office.

Use your time filing to stand up and move around your office. Don’t roll your chair around your office to get to your filing cabinets.

14. Walk when you talk.

Since most people talk on their mobile phones, make it a practice to get up from your seat and go for a walk when you’re on the phone.

15. Get friendly with your Tupperware.

If you cook a healthy meal at home, save part of it, and take it to work the next day for lunch. Add a few chopped veggies and you have a great homemade meal!

16. Go nuts!

Instead of buying candy bars or “health” bars (which are loaded with sugar) from the vending machine, keep handy a stash of dry fruit or nuts.

17. Load up on herbal teas.

Forget the coffee breaks with your friends and colleagues. Grab your favorite mug and start sampling herbal teas: try red fruits, verbena, mint for example.

18. Hit the water.

Get yourself a reusable water bottle and keep it on your desk. Make yourself drink at least one full bottle before lunch, and one full one before you go home at the end of the day. Drinking water will keep you fuller and less tempted to snack on empty calories.

19. Just say no!

Say, “No thanks,” to all the treats that get passed around the office: cakes, doughnuts, bagels, cookies. If you’re truly hungry, reach for the dried fruit and nuts.

20. Schedule your meals.

When scheduling your fitness on Sunday night (see above!), work out your meal plans in and out of the office, and include snacks.

21. Skip restaurants whenever possible.

Restaurant food is loaded with extra sugar and salt, and so is unlikely to be as healthy as something you can make at home. Better to have a simple lunch from home or leftovers from the night before. If you do eat out, choose fresh, healthy salads or other foods when possible. If you eat well at lunch, you won’t want to graze on junk food in the afternoon.

Have more ideas to add to this list? Please let us know!

St George Hospital Gains new life saving machines

Two new LUCAS 2 Chest Compression Systems have today been donated to St George Hospital by local business, Hivita Vitamins.

The LUCAS 2 is a mechanical chest compression device that can be deployed quickly and provides automatic external chest compressions to a patient suffering from sudden cardiac arrest. The use of the machine enables medical staff to attend to the patient while the compression system performs at least 100 compressions per minute with a depth of 2 inches.

A recent radio interview about the life saving capabilities of the LUCAS 2 so moved local resident from Kogarah Maria Jovanova, she told her company Hivita Vitamins what she’d heard and they have agreed to purchase two for St George Hospital.

“I heard on radio the story of a 41 year old mother of two young children who suffered a severe cardiac arrest but was saved due to the availability of the LUCAS 2 machine at a nearby hospital,” Maria Jovanova said. “When I told my work colleagues about it, we all agreed this would be a vital piece of equipment in any hospital or ambulance. When I enquired further, it was clear our local hospital St George, didn’t have the machine so our company, Hivita have now donated two.”

When activated, the LUCAS 2 compressions provide consistent, continuous perfusion to the brain, heart and major organs, giving the clinical staff the opportunity to focus on patient management. Even though the underlying cardiac problem can be repaired, without adequate perfusion there is the risk of brain damage.

“We are incredibly grateful for the donation of the two LUCAS 2 medical CPR devices,” said Dr Alex Tzannes, Emergency Physician at St George Hospital. “They have the potential to make the difference between life and death for victims of cardiac arrest.”

Hivita Vitamins owners, Gorge Jovanov and Stanika Jovanova are local business people who believe in supporting their community and health is of utmost importance.

“We have spent our working lives trying to improve the health of Australian’s through our vitamin supplements,” said Mr Jovanov. “If we can help in other ways such as through donating these life saving machines to St George Hospital, then we know we are making a difference to other people’s lives.”

Clinically dead for 40 minutes and alive to tell the tale

What started as a normal working day in suburban Melbourne for Vanessa, a 41-year-old mother of two, suddenly became a lengthy battle for her life. While sitting on her couch at home Vanessa started feeling chest pains and collapsed.

Fortunately, her mother was with her and remembered seeing the Australian Heart Foundation’s “Warning Signs” advertisement and recognised the symptoms of a heart attack. A call to ‘Triple 0’ had Mobile Intensive Care Ambulance (MICA) paramedics at the house within minutes. She arrested soon after the paramedics arrived, but was successfully defibrillated with a single shock and was stabilised for the journey to Monash Medical Centre in Melbourne, Australia.

During transportation, the ECG data was transmitted from the ambulance to the hospital to alert Emergency Department staff of an incoming STEMI patient and the need to activate the cardiac catheterisation lab. Upon arrival Vanessa was conscious and talking to the medical staff, however she suffered a second cardiac arrest while speaking to the Interventional Cardiologist. Nurses started manual CPR and defibrillation, but after a few minutes it became obvious that ventricular fibrillation could not be reverted and that resuscitation was likely to be protracted.

Several staff members were co-opted to transfer Vanessa to the operating table and to provide manual CPR. This quickly became a trying task given that the staff were wearing heavy lead aprons and standing on stools so as to be in the correct position to deliver compressions on the elevated operating table.

The Clinical Nurse Educator working in the adjacent lab was called to assist and made the decision to use the LUCAS 2 mechanical chest compression device to provide automatic external chest compressions. The radiolucent carbon fibre backboard was placed under Vanessa’s shoulders and the piston/suction cup placed over her chest. Once started, the LUCAS 2 applied continuous chest compressions of at least five centimetres at a consistent rate of 100 or more compressions per minute.

The mechanical compressions maintained blood pressure within the vessels and allowed the doctors to gain access to Vanessa’s femoral arteries. The Interventional Cardiologist performed an angiogram and then threaded catheters through to the site of the blockage to conduct an angioplasty to unblock the coronary arteries. The LUCAS 2 worked continuously the entire time under the drapes of the sterile field, protecting the staff from unnecessary exposure to fluoroscopy.

Despite having a downtime of approximately 53 minutes, she was discharged from the hospital just seven days later. Post operative tests indicated that she had no noticeable neurological deficits and following a stress echo cardiogram at 6 weeks Vanessa was cleared to return to full-time work and a fully normal life.

Embrace stress and live longer

Stress is bad for you – we all know that, right?

Actually, not quite…

It’s true that many studies have concluded that the negative effects of chronic stress can ultimately be lethal. And so we’ve all been trying to work out ways to minimise the long-term effects of a stressful lifestyle.

But earlier this year respected health psychologist, Kelly McGonigal, gave a TED talk outlining some new research that turns part of this thinking upside down. What the new science of stress reveals is that it’s not the experience of stress that is harmful, but how you perceive it.

When life gets particularly tricky and the adrenaline starts to pump, the heart pounds, you get slightly breathless and break into a sweat. If you believe that this is dangerous for your health, then it will be: what can actually happen is that the blood vessels around your heart constrict, limiting its ability to function properly.

However, if you can train yourself to view the stress as potentially beneficial, although your heart still beats faster, instead of tense, constricted blood vessels they stayed relaxed, as they do when we experience happiness – a much better cardio-vascular profile.

How can stress be regarded positively? Well, think of the increased heart rate as preparing you for action, and that breathing faster is pushing more oxygen to the brain. Meet the situation head on, and your response to it becomes healthier.

Moving away from physical specifics, consider a more holistic view of stress: maybe you were feeling stuck in a rut, and now here’s some excitement in your life. Or is it an opportunity to educate yourself? Does being backed into a corner push you to seek support from friends?  In fact, amongst the detail of Ms McGonigal’s talk there’s commentary on exactly this, and the positive effect of Oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone” that fine tunes your social instincts and enhances empathy. Really interesting stuff.

We’re not suggesting you create mountains out of molehills purely to increase your longevity, but having confidence in your ability to survive a stressful event can only help your physical and mental response.

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Raising happy and healthy kids

As a parent, you want nothing more than for your kids to be happy and healthy. Kids have different needs at every age and stage of their childhood, and we’ve endeavored to highlight some of the most important things below.

Kids’ health: Birth to 2 years

Avoid antibiotic use in this age group unless absolutely necessary for a proven bacterial infection (not “just in case”). These drugs have a devastating effect on the intestinal flora (probiotics) of children and adults, but it is most critical for these babies and infants to develop a healthy microbial balance to prevent digestive disorders such as reflux, constipation, bloating, flatulence, diarrhoea, malabsorption and failing to thrive and to gain weight. Probiotics are necessary to normalise a baby’s immunity and to avoid development of allergies and asthma.

Breastfeed your baby as long as possible, preferable to at least 12 months, to help the infant to establish a strong immune system. If a milk formula needs to be introduced ensure that your child is not sensitive or allergic to the protein in the product. No infant formula can give all the essential nutrients provided by breast milk, including substances like colostrum, which boosts immunity and lactoferrin, which prevents adhesion of microbes to the infant’s intestinal lining, so that gastroenteritis is less likely to occur in breastfed babies.

Have your baby checked by an osteopath or chiropractor who is experienced with treating newborns and children. A child that cries a lot, is irritable or does not settle to sleep well, vomits regularly or fails to thrive, could have a spinal alignment issue affecting peripheral nerve function. A safe and effective course of treatment can bring great relief to both the screaming child and the fraught family.

Kids Liquid Multivitamin

2-5 years

Avoid giving any dairy products to children with tonsillitis, constantly runny noses or recurrent ear infections (which can lead to glue ear and grommet surgery). A dairy-free diet will clear up these conditions within two weeks and avoid the need for repeated courses of antibiotics and unnecessary surgery. Have the child’s diet checked for adequate calcium intake from non-dairy sources, of which there are plenty such as green leafy vegetables, chickpeas, beans and legumes, sardines, salmon, tahini, carob, nuts and oats. Pineapple, papaya and garlic are foods which help to dissolve mucus in the ears, nose and throat. Steam inhalation and nasal saline sprays from the chemist also helps to liquefy mucus to help it to flow and to drain.

Breaking the cycle of recurrent infection in this age group can be achieved by supplementing with carotenes, vitamins C & D, zinc and iron. Olive leaf extract and garlic are effective antibacterial/antiviral medicines which can safely be given to these children, especially when they are attending day care, preschool and kindergarten.

Getting a pet or having siblings helps children to develop robust immune systems. Avoid sterilising their environment with disinfectants, this causes heightened susceptibility to infections by preventing a daily low-level inoculation with surface bugs to strengthen a child’s immunity.

Supplement this age group in particular with omega-3 oils to prevent behavioural disorders, such as ADHD. These oils also protect against eczema, asthma and dry skin conditions. Cold-pressed seed oils, such as cranberry seed oil, and olive oil need to be included in their diet to create a 1:1:6 ratio of omega 3:6:9 fatty acids for optimum wellbeing of brain, nervous system, skin and mucous membranes.

5-12 years

Protecting children in this age group from infection is important, especially during school terms. Echinacea, garlic, carotenes, zinc and vitamin C are excellent for boosting white blood cell activity and mucous membrane resistance to prevent microbial invasion. Bathe wounds in a colloidal silver solution then apply a dry dressing for magic healing! Manuka honey can also be applied to grazes to prevent infection and speed up healing (and the dressings don’t stick to it).

School age children are more likely to have injuries when they start playing sports, so keep some topical arnica gel handy for applying to bruises to reduce the soreness and swelling that can result from impact. Rescue Remedy is handy for managing the shock of accidents and injuries (also in the age 2-5 group)

Getting children active in their free time is important for their physical and social development. Extract the electronic entertainment or restrict it to minimal access s
o that children have sun exposure (vitamin D), time to play with others (social skills) and opportunity to undertake creative activities, such as craft, arts, music and dance. Plan fun family weekend outings, like picnics, beach trips, ice skating, zoo visits and bushwalks to get children off the couch, away from the computer, getting fit and experiencing the beauty of the natural world.

Encourage introspective activities to balance the hectic schedule that most family create for their children. Writing a journal or creative short stories, cooking and baking, doing puzzles, drawing and playing an instrument are just some examples (preferably not drums and percussion!)

Show these kids how to make a difference in the world – sponsor a child in Ehtiopia and help them to learn about their country and their life; sponsor an animalat the zoo and make it a project to learn as much as they can about their specie; get involved with local bush regeneration tree-planting activities; help them to build confidence and self-esteem with public speaking and debating activities, cultural performances and community engagement.

For me, the secret to being a good parent is to just do your best. As long as your kids feel loved, you’re more than halfway there.

Holistic tips for managing stress

Stress plays havoc with your health if you let it take hold of you. Its important to remember that you have choice in how you deal with day-to-day stresses.

Rather than tackle stress head on, why not become more fluid in dealing with challenging situations and flow around obstacles rather than butting up against them?

Here are some holistic tips to managing stress

1. Get the easy matters out of the way first at the start of your day

For example, try to not engage in difficult discussions with people who create conflict in your life, but rather write them an email or a letter. Don’t open the “heart sink” emails until you have dealt with the important matters of the day first, because they drain your energy and create mental distraction that can throw you off course.

2. Plan in catch-up time in your diary

If you are continually running late for appointments and deadlines, look at the number of commitments you make in a day and try to defer some to the next day to create “catch up time”. Plug some spaces into your diary for a herbal tea break or a 20-minute meditation to reset your nervous system to a lower level of tension – a bit like winding the volume down on your amplifier.

3. Give yourself healthy rewards

If you use alcohol or tobacco to reward yourself with a break, or to calm your nerves, find a safer, less-addictive alternative to create relaxation and a more enjoyable atmosphere at that time of the day. Have an aromatherapy bath surrounded by scented candles after work to soothe and unwind your body and mind. Save the money you would spend on wine and cigarettes for a weekly massage, or see a play with a friend, or put a deposit on your next holiday flights. There are loads of ways to immediately reduce stress. Just think about what soothes and calms you.

4. Go with the flow of life

Getting into “the flow” of life means taking the free-flowing path with less turbulence. Avoid obstacles, take on less challenges that might lead to conflicts. Think like a stream and create a path within the obstacles you face rather than trying to change them to suit ‘the plan’. Try to choose relaxing and enjoyable pursuits in your free time, such as a swim in the ocean or walking the dog. Caring for pets has been shown in scientific studies to reduce blood pressure and heart disease risk, as does having a creative pursuit such as painting, writing, playing music or gardening.

You can also relieve stress through exercise, and by changing your diet. Taking a high quality supplement can also play an important role in managing stress.

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Identifying different sources of stress

Are you overwhelmed at work? At home? Under financial pressures? It’s easy to tell when you’re feeling out of sorts, but analysing the real source of your anxiety is not always straightforward.

Here are a few clues to consider:

Workplace:

  • You keep leaving meetings feeling disappointed.
  • Are you underappreciated?
  • You’re being criticised but don’t understand why.
  • Is your role clearly defined?
  • There are never enough hours in the day.
  • Is your workload exceeding your capacity?

Home:

  • There’s a nagging, guilty feeling that won’t go away.
  • Are you a working mother, with friends & family who don’t fully understand your ambitions?
  • Everything’s changing constantly and you can’t keep up.
  • Have you got hormonal teenagers in the house?
  • You dread the end of the month.
  • Are family expenses consistently exceeding your income?
  • You’re exhausted.
  • Do you do all the family laundry, shopping, cooking and cleaning?

Major life events:

  • You feel like you’ve been hit by a truck.
  • Are you experiencing any of the following? (All significant events on the Holmes & Rahe Stress Scale, 1967)
  1. Death or terminal illness of a loved one
  2. Moving house
  3. Divorce
  4. Personal injury or illness
  5. Pregnancy

These are all legitimate reasons to feel stress and anxiety, and there are many more lurking out there. If life really is overwhelming, please seek help from a healthcare professional. Left untreated, the long-term effects can lead to serious illness, including cardiovascular disease, depression, IBS, insomnia, loss of fertility and serious skin conditions.

But remember, stress isn’t always a blanket negative.  Once you’ve identified what’s truly the problem, take all that nervous energy and channel it to find a solution.

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Managing stress when you are a workaholic

Are you a workaholic?

The ‘Workaholic” is a classic example of the individual who does not read the signs of stress and pushes through the warning signs, running the risk of developing a stress-related condition. He or she often experiences fatigue, has a poor diet and therefore poor general health. High stress levels, over-committed schedules, high caffeine intake and increased nicotine/alcohol intake lead to complications such as dependence on these substances for sustained performance.

The workaholic often is in denial of their stress problems, often becoming angry, impatient and manipulative. This can lead to communication breakdowns at work and home, refusing to acknowledge the dramas they are creating around them.

5 Signs you are a workaholic:

  1. Are you feeling tired, weary or run down?
  2. Do you have trouble sleeping?
  3. Can you feel your pulse or heart racing?
  4. Does your last meal feel like it is still processing?
  5. Have you had recurrent minor infections?

The common denominator between these complaints and conditions may be stress – mental, emotional or physical

How to manage stress around your busy schedule:

1. Natural stress evaporators:

  • Calming herbal teas and tisanes especially passionflower, lemon balm, St John’s wort, lavender, vervain and chamomile can soothe the edgy nervous system. It is best to drink three cups of calming herbal tea daily to sustain the relaxation effect of these herbs. They are also beneficial for  digestion and memory enhancement.
  • Sedative herbs, such as hops, valerian and zizyphus can improve the depth and duration of sleep for restorative benefits to the brain and nervous system.
  • Superfoods such as maca, spirulina, pomegranate and berries can be added to a predominantly organic diet to optimise the body’s nutrient stores so that they can be utilised f or replenishment and repair of tissues and organs affected by stress.
  • Essential fatty acids (from krill, oily fish, flaxseed) buffer the nervous system against the impact of stress and prevent chronic anxiety states and reduce phobias.
  • Replace nutrients to recharge neurochemicals and balance your nervous system, especially the B-complex of vitamins and cofactors such as choline, minerals (potassium, magnesium) and amino acids (lysine, glutamine).

These need to be sourced from a comprehensive diet or supplement regime. A high quality stress-relieving nutritional supplement should include high levels of B-vitamins, in particular a blend of nicotinamide and nicotinic acid. Cortisol metabolism requires adequate intake of vitamins B5 and B6 in particular.

 2. Stress relieving therapies:

Acupuncture and shiatsu can provide relief from tension, anxiety and depression, release stress and support systems recovery. Therapeutic massage is more than just a treat, it is necessary touch for relieving muscle tension, reducing pain and improving circulation. Yoga is the best stress antidote activity f or body, mind and spirit and meditation has been extensively researched and found to manage stress-related conditions impressively. In fact, it should be the core component of any stress­ management protocol!

3. Exercise relieving benefits:

Exercise reduces tension and the effects of stress, it also improves sleep, resets tone of nervous system, balances stress and sex hormones, improves libido, sexual function lowers blood pressure, improves circulation and improves digestion.

4. Making sure you are optimising your nutrition

Optimising nutritional uptake, so making sure your diet is healthy and you are supplementing your body appropriately, assists cellular regeneration, reduces cancer risk, reduces obesity, diabetes risk, reverses chronic lung disease, balances immunity, prevents dementia, prevents anxiety and depression, increases happiness and wellbeing, creates longevity, delays cellular ageing… All very good reasons to make sure you are considering complete wellness in your lifestyle.

To help manage your stress, don’t forget to:

  1. Eat a highly nutritious, unprocessed diet for strong cellular foundations
  2. Do regular stress-relief activities to defuse the tension
  3. Take a high-dose nutritional supplement to support the nervous system’s ongoing requirements under stress conditions
  4. Have a medical/naturopathic check-up to evaluate any complications of handling long term stress
  5. And importantly, develop a positive attitude and a sense of optimism, keeping work in perspective to greater wellness

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Are you stressed?

According to 2012 research published in the Australian Psychological Society, Australians reported significantly higher levels of distress and lower levels of well-being in 2012 compared with 2011, with 22% of Australians reporting moderate to severe levels of distress.

Younger adults continued to report much higher levels of stress and distress and lower levels of well-being compared with older Australians. Students and unemployed Australians  reported significantly  lower levels of wellbeing and higher levels of stress and distress than most other Australians.

Stress statistics in Australia:

  1. One in ten Australians reported depression and anxiety symptoms in the severe to extremely severe range, which is comparable to findings from 2011
  2. Younger adults reported significantly higher levels of anxiety and depression symptoms compared with older Australians, with this finding similar to 2011
  3. Unemployed Australians reported significantly higher levels of depression and anxiety symptoms than working or retired Australians

The most commonly reported cause of stress last year was financial issues, with close to 50% of Australians identifying personal finances as a cause of stress. Most surprisingly 40% of Australians reported that trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle was a source of stress.

Are you stressed?

Here is a checklist of the signs that give away that you are stressed

  1. Blotchy, clammy palms
  2. Pale complexion
  3. Nail biting
  4. Dilated pupils
  5. Scalloped tongue edges
  6. Elevated blood pressure
  7. Hair thinning and loss
  8. Dry skin, dry eyes, dry throat
  9. Impaired cognitive functioning
  10. Indigestion, bloating, flatulence, constipation
  11. Unexpected weight loss
  12. Weight gain in midriff region
  13. Menstrual irregularity
  14. Impotence

5 Strategies for managing stress:

  1. Watching TV or movies is Australia’s No.1 f avourite stress-busting pastime
  2. Spending time with friends or family
  3. Listening to music and reading are affordable and effective
  4. Consciously avoiding people or situations that are stressful
  5. Adjusting expectations and focusing on the positives

A good diet and exercise can also help relieve stress, as can a good night’s sleep and the power of perception. Taking a quality supplement such as Hivita Stress can also help relieve stress, nervous tension and mild anxiety.

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(Lynne Casey PhD MAPS, stress and wellbeing in Australia in 2012: A state-of-the-nation survey”, October 2012)