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Lactose Intolerance Symptoms and Treatments

By | General Wellbeing, Lifestyle, Nutrition | No Comments

Lactose Intolerance is a phrase that is commonly thrown around, but many people don’t realise the signs, symptoms, treatments and that yes! you can still consume some of your favourite dairy foods!

What is lactose intolerance?

Lactose intolerance comes from the body not having enough lactase enzymes in order to digest lactose.

What is lactose?

Lactose is a milk sugar that is broken down by the enzyme lactase, which is found in the small intestine. It is present in milk based products such as yoghurt, cream and cheese.

How do I know if I am lactose intolerant?

What are the signs/symptoms?

Symptoms may include:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Flactulence
  • Stomach cramps
  • Vomiting

Please note that these can also be common symptoms for many other conditions and it is important to speak with your GP before removing foods from your diet.

Does this mean I can never have milk or milk products again?

No! Everyone has different tolerance levels to lactose and therefore if you undertake tolerance testing with your dietitian you can assess how much lactose you can personally have. Generally speaking, many people can tolerate small quantities over time (depending how much you eat and eating it with other foods. For example, someone may be able to tolerate milk in their cereal but not tolerate a whole glass of milk OR they can tolerate milk in their coffee but not tolerate a bottle of strawberry Big M. Full cream milk seems to be better tolerated than low fat milks.

There are lactose free milk products in your local supermarket. If you enjoy the taste of cows milk then look out for labels that say ‘lactose free’

I love milk – what are some tasty alternatives?

Soy milk, almond milk and other milk alternatives do not contain lactose – but check the labels to ensure they are calcium enriched.

 

Are lactose free products available?

In recent times the lactose free product range has exploded into supermarkets. You definitely won’t miss out or feel left out when shopping for your favourite items like ice-cream!

How can I manage my intolerance to lactose?

If I am eating at a restaurant or am away on holiday and I’m not sure of the lactose content of some of the menu items, how do I help prevent the discomfort?

You can purchase lactase tablets or drops from your local pharmacy which can be added to food or taken along with food to help with digestion.

How to shop for and check the ingredients list at the supermarket

If you are trying to avoid lactose, ingredients to look for in lists on food labels include:

  • Milk solids
  • Non-fat milk solids
  • Whey
  • Milk sugar

Foods that may contain hidden lactose include:

  • Museli bars
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Quiche
  • Cheese sauces
  • Custard
  • Some breads and margarines
  • Pancakes
  • Processed breakfast cereals
  • Cakes and muffins

Can I eat cheese?

Hard cheeses are naturally low in lactose and can be safely consumed without symptoms and discomfort.

Some of these cheeses include:

  • Cheddar
  • Edam
  • Swiss
  • Mozzarella
  • Brie
  • Feta

Also, butter and cream actually contain very low levels of lactose and are well tolerated.

However, there are also lactose free cheeses readily available  at the supermarket

If you have lactose intolerant children

Meal planning with kids can be hard enough at the best of times, let alone when they have an intolerance. Thankfully there are many healthy options for your little ones with clear labels and ingredients you can feel confident about. 

Saabira Wazeer is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist at HealthMint.

She educates and helps clients manage lactose intolerance, including tolerance testing through trials.

To read more about Saabira and watch her introduce herself visit: www.healthmint.com.au/ourteam

Find out more about our Dietitian services head here: www.healthmint.com.au/our-services/dietitian/

Check out the Dietitians Association of Australia here: https://daa.asn.au/smart-eating-for-you/smart-eating-fast-facts/medical/understanding-lactose-intolerance/

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4 Reasons Your Urine Might Smell

By | Body Systems, Diabetes, General Wellbeing, Lifestyle | No Comments

4 Reasons Your Urine Might Smell

One of the best ways to tell what’s going on inside your body is to pay attention to what’s on the way out. Your kidneys act as filters for your body, and urine is how the waste they remove leaves your body. Urine is mostly water, so the waste is usually what gives it any smell or colour.

Normal urine is clear to straw coloured, and generally should not have a strong smell. If your urine output significantly changes and you can’t think of an obvious reason why, it could be a sign of something going on in your body. Here are 4 common changes to urine and what they might mean.

 

1. Dehydration

If you are not consuming adequate liquid, your urine output will reduce and become more concentrated. That could lead to a darker colour and strong smell, getting more noticeable as the dehydration worsens. Simple dehydration can be managed at home by drinking more liquids, but if your dehydration doesn’t resolve quickly, if you have other symptoms like diarrhoea and especially if your urine becomes very dark, you should see your doctor.

2. Oral Intake

 

Sometimes food and medication can change the colour or odour of urine. Asparagus is a classic example – often after eating this vegetable, urine can take on a very distinct odour. If the change is due to a food source it should go away within a day or two. If the change is due to medication, the changes might stay for as long as you are taking the medicine. Some foods and medications can even turn your pee pinkish-red. Feel free to mention the change to your doctor if you are concerned.

3. Infection

 

A urinary tract infection, or UTI, could cause your urine to change in appearance and smell. The presence of bacteria could cause your urine to have a foul smell, as well as appearing cloudy or even bloody. These symptoms could go along with a burning sensation when you pee, and a frequent urge to urinate. UTIs are fairly common, and will need to be assessed and treated by your doctor.

4. Diabetes

 

When a person has high blood sugar, excess sugar is excreted through the urine – which can cause urine to have an unusually sweet smell. In more dangerous cases, a “fruity” smell could be an indication of ketoacidosis, a condition where the body produces toxic substances due to extremely high blood sugar. Undiagnosed or untreated diabetes and ketoacidosis are potentially life-threatening conditions and should be considered an emergency.

If you see any change in your pee and can’t immediately think of what caused it – a recent meal or a new medication – you might want to think about seeing a doctor. Changes that last longer than a day or two and are accompanied by other symptoms should be addressed by a doctor as soon as you can. Some additional symptoms that can go along with urine changes could be pain in your side or back, fever, significantly increased thirst, fatigue, vomiting, or discharge. Your doctor can easily refer you for a urine test to see what’s going on.

Want more information?

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Common Health Myths

By | Body Systems, Featured, General Wellbeing, Lifestyle, Uncategorized | No Comments

It’s important to revisit what we know about our health to check that our knowledge is actually based on good science. Here are 5 common health myths you might have come across, and why they might not be as accurate as many people think.

  1. You can catch a cold by getting cold

It sounds obvious – if you get cold and wet, you’ll come down with a cold.  These days, most people know that colds are in fact caused by a virus, but they’re still quick to blame being cold for their illness.

We pick up viruses and other organisms through contact with other infected people. While these colds are more likely during the cold winter months, it’s likely that the majority of infections are picked up because bad weather forces people indoors, in closer proximity to one another.

The air temperature might have some impact on how long viruses can stay alive, and that inhaling cold air can cool the nasal passage down which can help some viruses to break the mucus barrier and enter the body. However, while cold weather can make it more likely that you will catch a cold, it’s not the weather’s fault when you’re ill.

  1. Cracking your joints can cause arthritis

People who crack their knuckles are routinely told they are making themselves more susceptible to arthritis. The truth is that the risk of arthritis is almost exactly the same for people who do crack their knuckles when compared to people who don’t.

When you crack your knuckles, you are pulling apart the joint very slightly. That causes a pressure decrease in the fluid that keeps the joints lubricated. Bubbles form in the fluid, and the variation in pressure causes the cracking sound. It might be annoying to people around you, but it won’t give you arthritis.

  1. Drink eight glasses of water every day.

Drinking water is essential for a healthy body, but how much should we be drinking? The answer is – enough. The amount of water each person needs can vary widely. Another factor that can influence how much water you need to consume is how much liquid you are consuming from other sources. 80% of an average person’s water intake is sourced from drinks (including caffeinated beverages like coffee), with 20% coming from the food they eat.

Studies show that on average, women require 2.7 litres of water per day, with men requiring 3.7 litres. However, that figure represents the total water intake – meaning your coffee counts. You should still try to drink water, but forcing yourself to drink a pre-determined amount is not necessary.

  1. Choosing low-fat products is better for your health

Low-fat products are sold as healthier options, but that advertising is misleading in many cases. Many low-fat products have increased sugar and salt to compensate for the loss of taste. Low-fat products can contain as many (or even more) kilojoules than their full-fat equivalents. Fat can help you feel full for longer, and a carefully balanced diet will include some healthy fats. Advertisers are very good at getting you to choose their product, but don’t be deceived by claims on the packaging.  A better strategy for choosing healthier options is to practice reading nutritional labels.

  1. The flu vaccine causes the flu

It’s a common misunderstanding that the flu vaccine can give people the flu. The truth is, you cannot catch influenza from a flu shot. The flu vaccine contains inactivated viruses that can’t harm you. However, some people do have mild side effects from the vaccination such as low-grade fever and body aches that can cause them to incorrectly self-diagnose with the flu. It’s important to remember that the flu vaccine is most often offered during periods of increased risk of catching the flu, which can cause a false association between the symptoms and the vaccine.

The vaccine only contains the strains of the influenza virus that authorities predict are the most likely for that season, which leaves people potentially open to other strains of influenza. It also does not provide 100% immunity, although most people will experience reduced symptoms if they do happen to catch the virus. Lastly, many people pick up a bad cold and mistakenly assume they have the flu – and blame their flu shot. Getting the flu shot helps protect you and vulnerable members of the community, and could save you from getting seriously sick.

When it comes to your health, the right advice is crucial. If you are looking for answers to your health questions, your GP is a great place to start. Cut through the conflicting information and get health advice tailored directly to your personal situation.

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Workplace Bullying and Mental Health

By | General Wellbeing, Lifestyle, Men's Health, Mental Health, Women's Health | No Comments

Is Workplace Bullying Affecting Your Mental Health?

Bullying is often discussed in relation to youth, but it’s a problem that can occur at almost any age. When discussing bullying as adults, it’s important to remember that bullying is often made up of small, repetitive incidents that seem insignificant on their own, but over time have a serious and detrimental effect on individuals and the wider workplace.

A report by Beyond Blue found that almost 1 in 2 Australians will experience workplace bullying at some time in their lives. Far from being a small annoyance, bullying can have real effects on people’s mental health. Let’s look at workplace bullying, and how it can have long-reaching consequences for individuals and their companies.

What is Workplace Bullying?

“Heads Up” defines workplace bullying as “repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards an employee or group of employees, that creates a risk to health and safety”. Bullying embarrasses, threatens or intimidates the person being bullied. It can happen in person, but can also happen out of sight or online.

The “risk to health and safety” applies when someone’s mental health is at stake, as well as their physical safety. Workplace bullying takes many forms, and it can have a significant effect on the health and wellbeing of the person being bullied, as well as on the culture of the workplace.

There are several types of bullying behaviour that are more common.

Cyberbullying:

 People can be bullied using technology. That might include having messages sent either to the person or about them via various forms, sharing media about a person such as videos or pictures, or posing as that person online.

Social bullying:

 Deliberately leaving someone else out in an attempt to make them feel bad, deliberately excluding someone from a conversation, using social gatherings to say unpleasant things about a person. Bear in mind, that doesn’t mean that everyone should be invited to every social gathering! Bullying occurs when the person is being repeatedly left out with the deliberate intent of making them feel excluded.

Physical bullying:

 Taking or destroying someone’s property or any unwanted touch can be a form of bullying. Physical bullying is starting to cross the line into explicitly illegal behaviour such as assault and theft.

Emotional bullying:

 Ridiculing, intimidating, or putting someone else down repeatedly is emotional bullying.

The Impact of Bullying

Bullying has a different effect on each person. People might feel alone, scared, powerless or miserable. Repetitive bullying can be overwhelming and feel like escape is impossible. Some people get angry, and spend time planning retribution. The effects of being bullied can build up over time, creating a high pressure situation.

Bullying can affect every part of someone’s life, from their relationships, confidence, how they present themselves, and what coping strategies they employ. People who are being bullied are often constantly on the alert to avoid unpleasant situations, which can be mentally exhausting and impact their working life.

Bullying in the workplace can have an effect on the business as well, especially because of lost productivity, absent employees, high turnover and low morale. The combined cost of bullying in Australian workplaces is estimated to be between $6 billion and $36 billion a year.

Putting a Stop to Workplace Bullying

In the past, management have often addressed bullying as an individual issue. However, beyondblue research has found that it is actually environmental factors that drive bullying, such as poor organisational culture and a lack of strong leadership.

Creating an environment that doesn’t allow bullying behaviour to occur is the best way to stop it from escalating. Businesses need to create strong, consistent approaches that do not tolerate bullying behaviour. A positive, respectful work culture goes a long way towards stopping bullying in the workplace.

If bullying does occur, the most important thing that individuals and businesses can do is treat it seriously. Bullying is often made up out of small incidents that seem insignificant on their own, but can build up to make a person miserable. Anyone who is being bullied needs to feel heard and supported. If you are being bullied, make sure you find a trustworthy person to talk to. Workplace bullying is a serious issue, and the impact on mental health should not be taken lightly by anyone involved.

sad-seasonal-affective-disorder

Coping with SAD

By | General Wellbeing, Lifestyle, Men's Health, Mental Health, Uncategorized, Women's Health | No Comments

Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder / SAD – How to Beat the Winter Blues

If you notice yourself getting down when temperatures start to drop, you could suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. It’s more than just feeling a bit gloomy – SAD is a recognised condition with millions of people experiencing symptoms at winter time. Thankfully, there are some easy steps you can take to stop the change in season from affecting your mood.

Follow the Light

Researchers have demonstrated a clear link between reduced light exposure and a drop in mental health for many people during the winter months. As the days get shorter but work hours remain the same, it can be hard for people to get enough natural light into their day. This is turn affects mood, sleep habits and can have other side effects like poor vitamin D levels.

If SAD is getting you down, you might have to think of creative ways to get more light into your day. If you can choose to sit next to a window at work, that could help you get that light ix throughout the day. Spending your lunch hour outside whenever possible is another great way to get some light. For those who can’t make it outside, light boxes can help. Setting up a bright station and spending time there daily can help life your mood.

Get Active

SAD can leave you feeling lethargic and unmotivated, but try to push through and get some movement into your day. Exercise is generally recommended to help combat depression, but has some benefits that specifically relate to SAD. If your exercise takes place outside or in front of a light box it can help you get some extra light into your day, and it can work to reduce the effects of the carbohydrates often craved by people experiencing SAD. Often the cold is a reason for people to stay inside, but some light exercise can have you warm again in no time. It doesn’t have to be long or strenuous – a walk outside during your lunch break might be enough to help you feel better.

Watch Your Food

Craving carbohydrate-rich food is a recognised symptom of SAD, and it can lead to a downwards shift in your mood, not to mention the physical effects and potential weight gain. If you’re tempted to fill your plate with comforting carbs, try to look for other solutions. Protein-rich meals will keep you feeling fuller for longer. Try swapping an omelette instead of cereal, and a chicken salad instead of a chicken sandwich. Fruit can help meet your cravings for sweet, but are also full of fibre and nutrients.

Sleep Soundly

How you sleep has a massive effect on your mood, and SAD can send your sleep patterns into a downwards spiral. Napping through the day, feeling lethargic and missing the usual light cues that help your brain wake up can disturb your sleep patterns. Try to help your body’s natural processes along. When you wake up, aim for bright lights and lots of activity. Instead of letting the lethargy glue you to the couch, try to fight it with activity. Then when sleep time comes around, low lights (especially minimising bright screens at least an hour before bed), and a warm, comfortable environment can help you drift off and sleep soundly.

If you are finding symptoms hard to shake off, if SAD is significantly affecting your life or if making basic changes doesn’t seem to be having an effect, it’s a good idea to discuss your symptoms with your GP. For most people, however, it won’t take much to boost your mood. You don’t have to succumb to the winter blues – a few basic changes should have you back to normal in no time.

Get Set to Quit for World No Tobacco Day

By | Cancer, General Wellbeing, Lifestyle

Get Set to Quit for World No Tobacco Day

 

 

We all know by now that smoking is not healthy, but over time it is easy to get complacent. May 31st is World No Tobacco Day, which is a yearly reminder of the damage that tobacco does to individuals, families and communities – and hopefully provides an extra incentive to quit. Here are some reasons to give a gentle reminder to your loved ones that it’s time to quit.

Tobacco and Heart Disease

The focus of this year’s No Tobacco Day is heart disease, which is just one of the many health concerns that come from smoking. Smoking puts people at a hugely increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one cause of death worldwide, and tobacco use is the second leading cause of CVD.

More than 7 million people worldwide die from tobacco-related disease. And it’s not just people who choose to smoke who are effected – around 900,000 of those deaths are non-smokers who were exposed to second-hand smoke from people around them.

Tobacco and Cancer

Cancer is a scary word – but even more scary is how much of a risk factor tobacco use can be. Smoking is the leading risk factor for preventable cancer, and 1 in 5 deaths from cancer are caused by smoking. The tobacco in cigarettes has more than 60 cancer-causing chemicals that are inhaled, and spread through the lungs and throughout the body.

Supporting Smokers

Just over 16% of Australians smoke, and 3 out of 4 smokers say they would like to quit. Clearly quitting is a difficult process, and it needs to be approached with support, respect and understanding. But while quitting is hard, the consequences of not quitting are much more serious.

It doesn’t matter how many times it takes for someone to fully quit, whether they cut down first or go “cold turkey”, whether they use nicotine products or simply stop all usage. The most important thing is that the tobacco goes, for good. Your wallet and every part of your body, including your future health, will thank you for it.

If you know a smoker or smoke yourself, it’s often best to have a plan in place before you quit. There are many good resources online to help you learn more about the quitting process. Another great place to get ongoing help and support is from your GP. They can advise you on what products and methods are available for you, and support you through the process.

On World No Tobacco Day, decide that today is the day to finally say goodbye to tobacco.

 

Click here to book an appointment with a GP to discuss quitting smoking ->

Listening Out for Hearing Loss: Hearing Awareness Week

By | Elderly and aging, General Wellbeing, Lifestyle

Listening Out for Hearing Loss

 

 

Did you know that it is estimated that 1 in 4 Australians could have some form of hearing damage by 2050? It takes the average Australian 7 years to seek help for hearing loss after they begin to suspect it might be a problem. Awareness of challenges faced by people with hearing loss is important, as is protecting hearing in people who do not yet have severe hearing loss.

Causes of Hearing Loss

There are many factors that could contribute to loss of hearing – genetics, diabetes and smoking can speed up its effects. However, a shocking one third of all cases of hearing loss are as a result of exposure to excessive noise.

Damage to hearing builds up over time. The louder the noise and the longer you are exposed to it, the greater the risk is to your hearing.

What is Excessive Noise?

As a general guide, noise is excessive when someone has to raise their voice to communicate to someone who is an arm’s length away. Workplace noise used to be the most common cause of hearing loss, but a major rising concern is personal listening devices, especially worn by young people. They really can cause permanent damage. The general rule is that if someone else can hear the music while ear buds are in, it’s too loud.

Just because someone already has hearing damage doesn’t mean they don’t have to worry about excessive noise – on the contrary, it’s even more important that they protect the hearing they have left. If you struggle to hear properly at a normal volume, don’t turn it louder – seek help.

Symptoms of Hearing Loss

Because losing your hearing is often a gradual process, it is easy to miss. People who know you well might notice the first signs of your hearing loss before you do. If you’re wondering if you might have some hearing loss, ask yourself:

  • Do other people complain about how loudly you turn up the TV or radio?
  • Are you uncomfortable in situations with a lot of background noise?
  • Do you strain to hear at places like the cinema?
  • Do you often have to ask people to repeat themselves?
  • Can you hear clearly when using your telephone?
  • Do you always hear the doorbell and your phone?
  • Do you hear that people are talking but struggle to make out all of the words?

The sooner someone addresses hearing loss, the better chance they have of slowing down its progression. If you have any suspicions, or even just want to reassure yourself, tests are very simple and cheap (or even free).

Take Action

If you have any concerns about your hearing, get checked. The treatments for hearing loss have come a long way since the days of big, clunky hearing aids, and new products are in development all the time, so the fear of hearing aids shouldn’t stop you from seeing someone about your hearing. Don’t wait for years, just to become another statistic. Ask your GP to refer you to a hearing specialist, and start taking control of your hearing – because once it’s gone, it won’t come back.

 

Click here to book an appointment with a GP to discuss hearing loss –>

5 Tricks to Make Your New Years Resolutions Stick

By | General Wellbeing, Lifestyle

5 Tricks to Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick

 

 

We’ve almost reached the end of January, and for many people the resolutions made this year are already starting to slip. If you made some health goals for this year, they’re worth keeping! Here are five simple tips to get you back on track, and to help make sure your health goals really stick.

  1. Pick a goal that’s right for you.

If you’re going to make changes, it has to be for the right reasons. There can be a lot of pressure from society in general to make certain goals, but they’re very unlikely to stick if you’re not personally convinced.

Don’t just dust off the same goals as every year – spend some time to carefully think about the goals that are really important to you and how you might realistically achieve them with the time and resources available to you this year.

  1. Be S.M.A.R.T. with your health.

In a 1981 paper in the Journal of Management Review, George T. Doran coined an acronym that can help you make goals you can actually keep. Think S.M.A.R.T.! Make sure your goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Vague or overly ambitious plans with no way to measure your achievements can trip you up before you even get started.

  1. Give yourself reason to celebrate.

While most people have an end-goal in mind, making a series of smaller goals to get to that point will help give you strategy and motivation. Give yourself a list of achievements to tick off along the way, and make sure to celebrate your progress! Small, permanent changes will lead to big results.

Remember that not all celebration has to include cake! Often we associate rewards with food-based treats, but for most health goals that strategy is unhelpful. Giving yourself some time off, purchasing a luxury item or a planned sleep-in will make you feel better in the long run.

  1. Stay positive.

It makes absolutely no sense to be mad at yourself for missing a step. Not only should you be proud that you are committed to improvement, remember that if your goals are making you more miserable than happy you’re more likely to throw in the towel. Take a deep breath and start again, as many times as it takes.

If you find that you’re consistently missing your targets, consider having another look at why that might be happening. Are your goals unrealistic? Do you need extra support? Do you have specific strategies in place for when you’re tempted to fall off the wagon? Your goals need to be designed to fit you, not the other way around.

  1. Get help.

Resolutions are much easier to keep when you work on them with other people. Instead of a vague announcement of your intentions, try to share your specific goals and strategies with someone who will help keep you on track in the long term.

Displaying your goals (short- and long-term) somewhere you can see them can help. There are also many apps and websites available to help you stay on track. If you have specific health goals, talk to your GP about safe and effective ways you can achieve them.

 

Click here to book an appointment with a GP to talk about your health goals –>

7 Tips to Ease Your Child Into School

By | Children's Health, Family Planning & Parenting, Lifestyle

7 Tips to Ease Your Child Into School

 

 

Starting school is a big moment for children, but also for their parents too! Your family life will experience changes, and preparing your child to start school before the big day arrives makes the transition easier on everybody. Here are some tips to help your child feel ready for this next big step.

  1. Practice basic skills.

Using the toilet independently, reading letters and numbers, recognising their name when written and being able to follow basic instructions are just some skills you might want to think about before starting school.

  1. Do a trial run.

Make arrangements to visit the school together and meet the teacher. Try to think about areas of school life that your child might find confronting – knowing where the toilets are, where they can play at lunchtime, how to get to their classroom, where they can get a drink of water and where you’ll be picking them up is a good start.

  1. Use resources.

There is a huge range of books available that deal with the topic of starting school in a positive and uplifting way. Whether you buy them or borrow from the library, reading about the subject together can make it seem less threatening. Many children’s TV shows also feature episodes where the main characters go to school for the first time.

  1. Make it fun.

Instead of seeing uniform shopping and buying school supplies as a chore, turn it into a chance to spend some one-on-one time with your child and get them involved in the process. Depending on their personality they might want to do a fashion show in their uniform, show their new purchases to other members of the family, or help decorate their new belongings.

  1. Know their level.

If they have previously been attending kindy or day-care, have a chat to the educators to see what your child has been doing. Most states make available online a list of basic skills they expect school-aged children to have mastered, although don’t panic if your child isn’t quite there yet – children learn fast! If you do have any concerns, their future teacher is a good person to speak to.

  1. Stay calm.

Children do pick up on their parents’ emotions, so try to keep your approach upbeat but calm – at least in front of them! While you definitely don’t want to focus on the negatives, for some children there is such a thing as too much enthusiasm. For most children it helps to approach the day like a fun adventure instead of a huge, life-changing event (even though you know it is!).

  1. Encourage communication.

School encourages independence – which is a good thing, but you need to know that your child will talk to you or a trusted adult if they are experiencing a problem. Start to practice communicating before they go to school. Open communication looks different for each family, but setting time aside for one-on-one chat about their day is vital.

It’s also important that you try to keep those talks as a safe space, where they don’t feel like they will get into trouble for sharing with you (within reason of course!). Setting up a habit of communicating about the small things will give them the opportunity to share any big things that might come up.

 

Gather people around you who can support you and your family during this time – join a parenting forum, speak to the teacher, try to meet other families going to the same school, or chat to people who have been through the process before. Soon the whole process will become routine, and you’ll be able to advise other parents in the same position.

Click here to book an appointment with a GP to discuss your child’s health or development ->

Mind Your Stress – How Mindfulness Can Improve Your Life

By | General Wellbeing, Lifestyle, Mental Health

Mind Your Stress – How Mindfulness Can Improve Your Life

 

 

Do you ever feel stressed, overwhelmed or anxious? It’s easy for life to become stressful, but mindfulness techniques can give you the tools to manage how you respond to the situations you’re in. Mindfulness is helpful for anyone, of any age, gender, religion or occupation. Here’s how you can become more mindful.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness encourages our brains to think clearly and focus on the present, instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. It’s easy to get into the habit of living life with your mind elsewhere – whether you’re eating, spending time with friends and family or working, we can become distracted and not fully present. Mindfulness techniques help you get off autopilot, feel better and reduce stress.

Most mindfulness techniques come from meditation principles. The aim of mindfulness is not to completely clear the mind, but to calm your thoughts and become more aware. The techniques are suitable for everybody and are backed by scientific studies as a way to reduce stress, increase self-awareness and improve mental health.

What are the benefits?

There are many benefits to practicing mindfulness techniques. There have been many studies that show real improvements for people who learn to be more mindful. Mindfulness can help you to:

  • Help with concentration
  • Improve the ability to relax
  • Reduce stress, anxiety and depression
  • Become more self-aware
  • Calm your nervous system
  • Improve the quality of your sleep
  • Clear your head

How do you become more mindful?

Basic techniques will encourage you to become aware of your surroundings and observe your own feelings, thoughts, and the input from your five senses, without judging or analysing. Mindfulness is a habit that you need to cultivate over time to get the best results. Your mind will want to wander, especially when you’re learning, but calmly return to what you’re doing. You might have thoughts come, but try to let them pass without analysing them.

You might want to try mindful meditation, where you sit quietly and focus on your breathing or a word or phrase. Mindful breathing is another technique that requires you to stop for a short while and think about your breathing – how it feels, how it sounds, how it affects your body. Progressive muscle relaxation is another common technique that involves tensing your muscles from toes to head, and then slowly relaxing each part of your body.

Where can you find more information?

There are plenty of resources available that can help you learn mindfulness techniques and make them a part of your daily life. The Smiling Mind app and ReachOut Breathe app are great options. There are plenty of great online resources available. If you are having trouble managing your stress, anxiety and/or depression, it’s a good idea to talk to your GP about your options. We are all able to benefit from being more mindful – it’s worth practicing.

 

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