Posts in mood
De-stress your weekends with Fall events this October!
 
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With a Friday afternoon sigh of relief that the work week is almost over, it’s time to put away your computer, switch off your notifications and relax into the tranquility of the weekend. Even if your agenda is crazy, it’s important to utilise the time that we get away from our desks to focus on activities that will allow us to enjoy some downtime to unwind, reflect and re energize for the upcoming week.

The (even though short) amount of time that we get over the weekend is vital to be used for leisurely activities to replenish our attention and motivation, revive your mind and body after all the thinking and doing it does through the work week.

Luckily, New York is a city where there’s always something new and exciting to experience and see! And with the change of season there’s even more new and and accessible ways to spend your free time this Fall.

For this reason, and to motivate you to get out there and relax into the weekend, here are some worthy events and activities you might want to check out. I know I will!

Sometimes the hustle and bustle of the city can get to be too much, try slowing the pace down and take a weekend trip upstate by taking a scenic drive up along the Hudson Valley - breathe in the fresh crisp air and let the beauty and tranquility of fall make this activity all the much more mind clearing and reinvigorating.

Ok, so this might be a winter activity but the rink is up! Take some time out of your day or night and skate across the rink and let any of your weeks thoughts slip away.

You can’t ignore the fact that it’s almost Spa Week in New York! Even just saying it makes me feel instantly relaxed! If you are looking to really unwind, take advantage of this event by zoning out while getting a relaxing facial or deep massage and letting your body unwind to refresh, refocus and reset.

If you’re a coffee lover, then this is your lucky weekend because the New York Coffee Festival is back! Take your time wandering through the vibrant coffee scene, smell the coffee scented air and taste test your way through different coffee brews, enjoy with friends as a way to unwind and relax.

Halloween is near and the Great Jack O Lantern Blaze is on! Make sure to make a stop, take in the bright lights of  the incredibly carved pumpkins and take a walk through the festival , get into the holiday spirit and let the creativity inspire you.

Looking for a more inspiring, positively uplifting and meditative approach to unwinding and relaxing? October events at Primary are a great way to connect with yourself and with others, dedicated to inspiring a better work life balance, from networking events and growing your business to self realization and discovery all while developing ways of taking care of your mind and body.

To keep your mind and body in balance, take the time out this weekend to relax and unwind by doing something that’s mindful to you.   


 
Time For a Tea Break
 
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As the magic of Fall and Winter will soon grace us it comes the time to pull out the winter warmers. Big sweaters, beanies, scarves, indulge in hot chocolate and sit under fluffy blankets watching our favorite movies. Although a much loved time of year, with all its beauty comes the undesirable dreaded cold and flu season.

Luckily, there's the deliciousness of a little something called herbal infused tea to not only delight us with warmth on those cooler days but also provide the health properties to prevent and rid our bodies of the bacteria and germs floating around the crisp air, while acting as a meditative practice aiding the mind and body into a state of relaxation.

Herbal tea has for a long time been considered a natural health remedy, by infusing plant materials such as blending leaves, fruits , bark and roots steeped in boiling water to retain the plants properties. Along with the obvious hydration and tasting incredibly delicious - the infusion of the herbs each contain various  medicinal qualities including antiviral properties, aiding digestion, acting as an anti inflammatory , while acting as an overall well rounded remedy for holistic healing and wellbeing.

Here are some of my favorite infused teas to get you started

  • Peppermint: Your belly’s best friend. Minty fresh flavor commonly used to support digestive discomfort, relieve nausea and reduce stomach inflammation and pain.  

  • Chamomile: For a good night sleep. The pleasant aroma and taste of the Chamomile flower provides its calming properties and stress reducing elements to calm and relax the body inducing it into sleep. While strengthening the immune system fighting cold, flu, sinus and congestion.

  • Hibiscus: Hello glowing skin. Fruity , sweet and delicious to drink, the floral infused ingredients are rich in antioxidants and high in vitamin C eliminating toxins with its liver support function giving you the perfect glowing skin.

  • Lemongrass and Ginger: Happier and healthier you. Zesty and uplifting , the combination of lemongrass and ginger reduces inflammation and high in antioxidants, fighting the common cold while providing a source of energy.

For more herbal blends flavors and benefits healthline lists its “top ten healthy herbal teas you should try” for a better healthier you.

Not a fan of the pre blended options? Try self infused tea as another great simple option to developing healthy flavorsome herbal teas tailored to your purpose and personal taste preference. Have a look at some of  these natural ingredients to help relieve any ailments you might be experiencing by letting their properties soothe you.

So every now and then when you feel that cold coming on - beat the symptoms by indulging in your favorite herbal tea blend and let the warmth take over.



 
health, mood, tea, wellnessLaura Santalucia
Relax with a DIY Massage
 
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Massages have a multitude of health benefits in addition to that “aahhhh”-inducing effect. However, you don’t have to find a professional to get the boosts of a massage--actually, you don’t have to find anyone!

Just like you can DIY your home decor or a multitude of crafts, you can DIY a massage (BYO oils or lotions optional!).

Self-massage can help relieve pain, including symptoms of osteoarthritis. Researchers had study participants suffering from osteoarthritis (OA) in the knee do 20-minute self-massage therapy sessions, focusing on their quadriceps muscle. The OA patients who did the self-massage felt significantly less OA pain and stiffness.

The benefits can also be mental. In one study, smokers trying to quit were prescribed three daily hand and ear self-massages during their withdrawal symptoms, including cigarette cravings. After one month, the smokers reported feeling less anxious and moody--two common smoking cessation withdrawal symptoms. Not only that, but those who did the self-massages smoked fewer cigarettes each day by the end of the study than those who did not do-self massage.

In a study of adults suffering from wrist and/or hand arthritis, self-massaging every day (paired with a weekly massage done by someone else) resulted in lower levels of anxiety, depression, and physical pain, while also increasing the strength of their grip.

Try massaging all the way down to your toes: Foot massages also have considerable benefits, including boosting your mood while tamping down stress. Also, in one study, researchers found that the immune systems of people who gave themselves foot massages improved over time. (Put that tip in your back pocket for flu season!)

DIY:

Here are some tips from the Arthritis Foundation, aimed at those with arthritis, but could be helpful to anyone interested in trying some self-massage:

  • Start by warming up your muscles by using large, vigorous strokes, then switch to smaller strokes focused on areas you’d like to target. Applying heat before starting your self-massage can also help your muscles relax.

  • When you move into the smaller strokes, you can try holding certain points, rubbing back and forth or deeper strokes along the length of your muscle

  • Pressure-wise, just be sure that you aren’t pressing hard enough that it hurts

  • You can add oil or lotion (scented for an aromatherapy boost as well!) to make the stroking easier.

  • If you already visit masseuses regularly, you can also add self-massage between visits to enjoy the benefits longer.

Go ahead, rub on some relaxation. You deserve it.


 

 
Play On: Have Some Fun For Your Health
 
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By Hannah Woit

What did you enjoy doing as a child that you no longer do as an adult? Make sandcastles? Spend some quality time with a coloring book or whizzing through the air on a swing set? Play a pickup game of soccer with your friends? The things that come to mind are likely to be what we used to do as play--and unfortunately have become activities we do less and less frequently as we grow up.

However, research indicates that we may want to pick these activities back up if we want to live our happiest, healthiest lives.

Are You Playful?

“Playfulness” can reference a person’s tendency to approach situations in ways that entertain those around them and make them more engaging and fun.

Playfulness in adults is associated with:

Play at Work?

Just as more foosball tables are popping up in workspaces, researchers are conducting more studies around playfulness at work. You might assume that play at the office leads to decreased productivity or distraction, but some research indicates that “organizational playfulness” can make for a climate that is more conducive to creativity. How? Researchers posit that playfulness can make people feel more open and motivated, and to forge more relationships built on working together. It can also foster greater trust amongst team members.

Also, making meetings more playful can actually make them more productive because play can inject energy and increase engagement during an otherwise dull meeting.

Make Time for Play:

Been a long time since you set out to play? If you need inspiration, University of Wisconsin psychologist Shilagh Mirgain, PhD suggests:

  • Game nights with friends

  • Play with pets or children

  • Arts and crafts

  • Playing in a physical group activity, such as tennis, Frisbee, or kickball

  • Doing something you enjoyed as a child

Mirgain also brings up scheduling time for play. However, don’t get too serious about it: play being voluntary is key. And it has to be something you enjoy (versus something other people tend to enjoy or something you think you’re supposed to enjoy).

Go on, get out there and have some fun!

 
Create Your Way Well
 
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By Hannah Woit

Maybe you’ve purchased one of the adult coloring books that has risen atop of Amazon’s bestseller list, ripped up all of your magazines to create a vision board, or have a home full of Pinterest-inspired DIY projects--coloring books are no longer just for kids. There are many factors that have contributed to the rise in adults doing art projects--and the pursuit of mindfulness and health is a major one.

Art therapy has been around for years. So how does using your creativity impact your health and wellbeing? Read on for ways that picking up a paintbrush, splurging on a set of colored pencils, or an art break at the office can be a boost.

Paint the Stress Away:

When researchers looked at how making art such as collaging, drawing, clay modeling, and coloring helped students in Maine cope one week before their final exams, the effect was clear: The subjects’ anxiety levels decreased, even only after doing art for a short time.

Some research has also indicated that the way participants are doing the art matters. When undergraduates at a Canadian university were assigned to groups that would either choose the colors they used or color by copying the colors in a completed image, the ones who had the ability to choose experienced greater drops in their anxiety levels than those in the other group after a coloring session.

However, some structure to the activity may actually be beneficial. Researchers in Illinois found that being assigned to color a mandala or plaid pattern resulted in a greater improvement in the intensity of the participants’ anxiety than those who were asked to draw freely.

Perk Up by Coloring:

As we’ve discussed previously, your health is tied to your emotions. It turns out that you can use art to change your mood. If you want to try an artistic pick-me-up, studies indicate that you may want to consider the structure of the activity. For example, coloring circular shapes versus squares might be more impactful in cheering you up, according to research. How you use your emotions also matters. Findings published in the Art Therapy Journal of the American Art Therapy Association have demonstrated that drawing freely may be more optimal than being instructed to draw with the intention of expressing how you’re feeling.

Consider this your coloring book prescription!

by Hannah Woit

 
Feel All the Feels: Emotional Management for Optimal Health
 
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By Hannah Woit

Your emotional feelings and physical feelings are connected. Positive emotions can benefit your health while negative ones can harm if they are not dealt with in the right way.

So, with that in mind, where do we go from here if we want to cultivate an emotional life that supports our overall health? Are we supposed to walk around pretending everything is fantastic and that we actually love the fact that we just dropped our ice cream cone on the ground or got all the way to the office only to realize we left our cell phone at home?

Deal With It:

For better or worse, life has its highs and lows. It would be silly to act as if that’s not true. In fact, ignoring your feelings--negative and positive--may be the worst thing you can do.

According to the University of Minnesota, failing to deal with or ignoring your anger can be associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, infection, and digestive issues. Instead, you should feel your emotions and express them without judging yourself.

Feel it, then you can let it go.

Work It Out:

If you tend to hold on to negative things that have happened, this doesn’t mean you are doomed for poor health. A study supported by Stanford and the Department for Veterans Affairs showed that you can learn how to forgive. In the study, adults who were trained in forgiveness experienced fewer physical ailments, less anger, and fewer feelings of hurt.

If you want to develop a more positive approach to life, there are things you can do to mould your outlook for the better. Dr. Barbara Fredrickson suggests that you aim to experience three positive feelings for every negative one to reverse the potential physical damage that negativity can inflict. And, she posits that positivity is like a muscle that can get stronger over time with practice to make you more resilient emotionally.

So, just like you have a gym or workout routine, it may be worth implementing a routine for checking in on and working through your emotions--your body will thank you.

 
Feelings: The Mind-Body Connection Important for Your Health
 
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By Hannah Woit

The impact of your emotions goes beyond your mental health--your feelings have implications for various aspects of your physical health as well. Here’s a rundown:

The Positive:

It pays to be positive! According to Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, in addition to increased creativity, awe, and possibilities, positivity can get you more sleep and happiness overall and less time for recovery from cardiovascular stress and colds.

And the correlation doesn’t seem to be that the happier you are, the better your health. How is your emodiversity? Emodiversity is the mixture of your emotions and their intensity. Research indicates that the more diverse the positive emotions you experience, the more likely you are to have lower inflammation. This seems to hold irrespective of your average positivity and negativity, your body mass index, anti-inflammatory medicines, personality type, and other factors.

Another boon for our physical health is our ability to forgive, which some in the medical field define as “fully accepting that a negative event has occurred and relinquishing our negative feelings surrounding the circumstance”. Studies have found that being more forgiving can be positive for our mental, emotional, and physical health. Forgiveness is associated with having lower blood pressure levels, superior cardiovascular health, a stronger immune system, and a longer lifespan.
 

The Negative:

Negative feelings and outlooks are associated with chronic stress. In the shorter term, this can throw your hormones out of balance, as well as the chemicals in your brain that have to do with happiness, and suppress your immune system. It can also prevent you from living a longer life by shortening your telomeres, which are the tips of the strands of your DNA, by quickening the aging process.

However, there are things you can do to combat negativity in a way that protects your health. Keep an eye out for this upcoming Monday’s post, which will feature tips for maximizing your positive emotions and processing your negative ones so you can live your happiest, healthiest life.

 
Do Your Surroundings Spark Joy?
 
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By Hannah Woit

Skip spring cleaning this year? It’s not too late!

You’ve likely heard of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. It is based on her KonMari Method of curating and organizing your living spaces in a way that creates joy in your life. There are 6 rules:

  1. Commit yourself to tidying up.

  2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle.

  3. Finish discarding first.

  4. Tidy by category; not by location.

  5. Follow the right order.

  6. Ask yourself if it sparks joy.

Some might assume that decluttering enthusiasts believe the fewer items, the better, but it’s not that simple, at least not when it comes to the KonMari Method. The key is having items around you that spark joy and to be grateful for them. You can also apply the principle to other areas of your life. For example, think about your schedule and ask yourself, what can you get rid of so that you have more time for what makes you happy and what really matters?

It’s not as simple as looking around and throwing out the junk mail that has piled up. Lisa suggests going deep--taking everything out of where it is stored so you can see everything. You may even rediscover something you’ve forgotten about that deserves to have a place in your home where you see it every day!

Intrigued? If you are a Primary member, please join us at Primary on Tuesday, July 10th at 5:30pm for “Tidy Up Your Home With KonMari & Start Living Your Best Life!”. Certified KonMari Consultant Lisa Tselebidis will teach you how to simplify your home space and life in a way that maximizes your joy. 

Lisa will cover:

  • The effects of clutter & disorganization on your well-being
  • Benefits of a tidy home
  • Vision creation
  • Introduction to the KonMari Method
  • Example of a KonMari transformation
  • Clothing folding demonstration

Calm your surroundings so you can calm your mind. And, make room for joy!

 
Your Vacation Rx, Part 2: What To Do?
 
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By Hannah Woit

What’s your ideal vacation? Camping in a forest, waking up with the sunrise? Checking off a long list of must-see destinations? Spending some serious time on a beach chair, doing little else?

How does your choice of vacation type impact your health? Although many of us may only link vacations and wellbeing in the context of spas or yoga retreats, what we do on our time off has very real implications for our health--including some you might not expect.

What’s on the itinerary?

Researchers have discovered that vacation and more and better quality hours of sleep are a boon for your health, so take advantage of the extra z’s! If you’re someone who has trouble sleeping in unfamiliar places, bring a travel size of your favorite scented candle or your pillow from home. Also, if you are a light sleeper, pack some earplugs and a sleep mask--and opt for more glamping over camping.

Make sure there are also opportunities for pleasure and savoring your experiences, as these are not only effective during vacation, but also the aftereffect.

And you don’t need to feel guilty about skipping your regular workout if that’s what you need to do to relax to the max. Researchers have found that physical activity doesn’t impact your overall health and wellbeing during vacation or after it.

Activities that researchers have identified an associated between higher degrees of relaxation and psychological detachment from work and greater enjoyment of what you do on vacation with having a positive impact on wellbeing even after coming home.

A working vacation?

If you’re one of those people who checks their email while on vacation and say it will make the transition back to work easier because less work will have accumulated, you may want to think twice about that, as working while you’re supposed to be off can hinder your sense of wellbeing some research indicates, even after you get back to your desk. However, experts disagree on this one, so if you like staying on top of things while you’re away, it may not impact your wellbeing, but be very mindful of your emotions and mood before and after working on vacation.

If you want to take a social media respite as well, here are some creative posts we’ve designed for you to put up to alert your followers so they don’t think you’ve fallen off the face of the earth.

Who’s coming?

Although social activities are generally a healthful addition to your vacation, so is  generally relaxing, so think twice about who you bring with you, researchers say. Other experts explain that your stress level and feelings about your travel companions are the top factors in determining your health and happiness on vaca. If you’re traveling with a challenging crew, keep in mind that you may need another vacation after your vacation (or at least a few free days at home to decompress before heading to the office).

Bon voyage!

 
Your Vacation Rx, Part 1: Formulate a Plan
 
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By Hannah Woit

What is linked to reduced risk of coronary heart disease, decreased anxiety, and higher job satisfaction, yet 40% of employees take zero to 25% of what is available to them?

Vacation days.

If you’ve got them, use them--for the sake of your health, research says.

The various health benefits of vacation last different lengths of time upon returning to work, but if you’re nervous about taking time off, consider a respite’s impact on work absenteeism: Odds are that you’ll be less likely to call in sick to work for the month following your vacation.

You don’t need to go on a yoga retreat to design your vacation in a way that can boost your health. Taking time off can be a valuable tool in your wellness toolbox and to use vacation days in the most health-promoting way possible, there are some things you may want to keep in mind when strategizing your time away.

Pull up your Google Calendar or grab your pencil and planner and start implementing your solid vacation strategy!

How Often?:

Since the wellbeing effect of your vacation starts to lapse pretty soon after your return to the office and that you’ll be back at your prior level of wellbeing within one to four weeks, researchers suggest that breaking up your vacation time may be better for you than taking it all at once each year.

How Long?:

Studies show that your health and wellbeing increase quickly after vacation starts and peak 8 days into the vacation, so you may not squeeze all the health benefits you can out of your vacation if you take a shorter break. However, the research seems to indicate that no matter the length of vacation, the benefits you’ll get from the time off will start to decrease after your last day,

Where To?:

Warmer, sunnier locales are ideal if recuperation is your goal, research indicates. And for all of the stressed types out there counting down the days until vacation, take heart: The more work strain you experience before your departure, the greater benefit you’ll experience if you’re able to really get away and unplug.

Consider time zones too, as the greater the number of hours are between your home and vacation time zones, the more exhaustive effect it is likely to have.

On Monday, check back here on the Primary blog for your next step in setting up the vacation you need to feel your best: building your itinerary (or lack thereof!).

 
Primary Colors: The Optimal Office Hues for Productivity
 
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By Hannah Woit

First impressions are powerful. But we may not be thinking about one of the greatest factors of that initial assessment. For example, a study out of the University of Winnipeg found that one quality determines about 62-90 percent of someone’s first impression of a product: color.

Color is not necessarily something many of us think about on a regular basis, but hues are powerful. Just like the aroma tickling your nose impacts your mood, the colors in your surroundings may affect how you feel and act, in general and about certain things.

So, what does this mean for work? According to research review from the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Architecture, it depends on two things: your goals and the makeup of your team.

 

Going for the Gold--Goals:

  • Tackling a detail-oriented project: You should be seeing red (literally, not figuratively!).

  • Working on getting your creative juices flowing: Opt for blue.

  • Completing a task where accuracy is top priority: Go for darker shades of blue, red, green, or purple rather than lighter tones.

  • Creating a place where people feel less distracted by their surroundings and where they enjoy working: White is the way to go.

  • Cultivating job satisfaction: Blue-green is your best bet.

 

The Eyes of the Beholders--Your Team:

  • The degree to which each person is sensitive to his or her surroundings also mediates the impact of color on work performance.

  • For those more affected by how the office looks around them, blue-green colors are better than red, but predominantly white offices are optimal.

  • For those who tend to filter out the effects of their environment, red can boost their work more than blue-green.

You don’t have to paint your office walls (or even have office walls!) to take advantage of color’s power. In fact, since the likelihood that everyone’s goals and sensitivity to their surroundings are uniform is low, the best way to tap into this is to ensure that you and your coworkers are able to personalize your workspaces to your own liking with desk accessories such as desk pads and notebooks.

Think beyond your office walls and you’re golden!

 
Events to Kick Off a Strong Summer
 
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By Hannah Woit

There is no shortage of incredible opportunities for helping you feel your best in New York City, including Primary’s full slate of events and classes, but sometimes it can feel as if there is a shortage of time to take advantage of them and they often fall by the wayside when we get busy unless we commit in advance. Make sure you plan a feel-good summer this year--here are some wellness-centric events to make sure are on your calendar so you can thrive over the next two months!

Art Without Ego with Kyoun Sokuzan

June 11, 7pm

MNDFL / Greenwich Village

10 E 8th Street

New York, NY 10003

$35

Flex your creative muscle while also strengthening your mind with an event that melds meditation and art. Zen teacher Kyoun Sokuzan will lead you in thinking about breaking through any obstacles you face between you and fully realizing your creativity.

 

Daybreaker

June 16, Yoga 10am - 11am;  Dance Party 11am - 1pm

Location TBA

Yoga and Dance Party: $40 + $3.20 fee

Dance Party Only: $25 + $2.75 fee

Daybreaker is a morning yoga sess and dance party that happens in 22 cities around the globe. They’re coming to NYC June 16 to give the crowd their signature “DOSE”, which stands for Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins, the natural feel-good hormones and brain chemicals your body produces after a fun yoga class or dance party. It’s bring your own mat for yoga, but Daybreaker will bring the energy and non-alcoholic beverages you need for a morning boost!

 

NYC Parks: Bronx Recreation 5th Annual Family Fitness Festival

June 16, 12pm-3pm

Williamsbridge Oval Recreation Center in Williamsbridge Oval

3225 Reservoir Oval East

Bronx, NY 10467

Free

If you’re looking for a kiddo-friendly event, check out this free fitness fest in the Bronx. It will feature cooking and fitness demonstrations, games, sports (including relay races), and arts & crafts, face painting, and more! Attendees will also get a chance to create their own “fruit creature” and enter free raffles and giveaways.

 

How to Have a Great Day!

June 20, 6pm-7:15pm

Primary

26 Broadway, 8th floor

New York, NY 10004

Free; Email rebeca@liveprimary.com to sign up!

Join Primary for an event that will give you the tools you need to make the most of each day in ways that feel good. Transformational Health and Life Coach, 500 Hour Registered Yoga Teacher and Inspired Living Facilitator, Stacy Brass-Russell will introduce guests to simple and enjoyable things you can do now to create positive changes.

 

Shambhala Training Weekend I: Feel Human Again

June 29 - July 1

Shambhala Meditation Center of New York

118 W 22nd Street, 6th Floor

New York, NY 10011

$275 for Patrons

$225 for General Public

$180 for Members

This immersive weekend takes place at the Shambhala Meditation Center of New York, but is open to new and experienced meditators alike. Led by Natalie Baker, a Buddhist practitioner and licensed psychotherapist, attendees will learn and practice mindfulness-awareness meditation, including sitting and walking meditations. One-on-one time with meditation instructors will also be available as an option. The meditations will be interspersed with lectures and discussions in small groups.

 
health, mood, eventsHannah Woit
Want to Think Better? Get On Your Feet
 
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By Hannah Woit

A new study out of the University of California Los Angeles gives new meaning to the phrase “thinking on your feet”. The benefits of standing during the workday for your cardiovascular health and weight are well documented, but this study marks a remarkable foray in that it links sitting to inferior brain health as we age.

As we get older, part of our brains associated with memory (the medial temporal lobe, which houses the hippocampus) atrophies. What is new about these findings is that although researchers have looked at the association between physical activity and brain health, this focuses on the time one spends sitting versus standing, a seemingly more accessible and simple change to make for most people than a change in exercise. (Interestingly, the team at UCLA did not find a relationship between levels of physical activity and the thickness of the medial temporal lobe.)

There had been indications in previous studies that reducing sitting time might be more potent than getting in more time at the gym or your favorite fitness studio when it comes to improving certain health indicators. For example, one study drawing on data from fifty-four countries demonstrated an association between sitting less and reduced mortality, but not between mortality and exercise.

Ready to take a stand for your health?

Here are a few things to think about, especially when it comes to standing at the office, where many of us spend a large portion of our sedentary time:

  1. Try standing every time you do a certain activity at work, such as talking on the phone.

  2. Suggest your team go for a walking meeting.

  3. Try a standing desk.

  4. If you know there is somewhere you’ll be standing for a long period of time, make sure to wear comfortable shoes and you may want to get an anti-fatigue mat.

  5. Your feet and legs may need time to adjust to standing for longer periods of time. If you find you’re tired of standing, try taking a break and sitting until your legs recover.

 
Biotics on the Brain
 
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By Hannah Woit

Have food on your mind? Ever make a decision based on a “gut feeling”?

Sure, you may be thinking about how long until you can dig into your office lunch or feel butterflies in your stomach before making a big decision, but your food is also on your mind in another sense.

More and more information is coming to light regarding how what you eat and what is in your gut can impact your brain.

How? The answer gets back to our recent topic of the microbiome and the importance of having both prebiotics and probiotics in your diet.

According to researchers, probiotics release a type of acid, called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) associated with reduced anxiety and gut microorganisms may affect the impulses that reach your cerebral cortex--and all of this may influence your behavior.

These microorganisms in your gut have been termed “psychobiotics”.

Different types of bacteria can:

  • Help moderate the levels of harmful bacteria in your gut

  • On a hormonal level, stop the cortisol and adrenaline response that can be hazardous to your health

  • Help turn off chronic stress responses via the immune system

Plus, your gut actually contains neurons, in the form of your enteric nervous system which controls your digestion. Some in the field have started referring to this system as your “second brain”.

So, what does this mean for you? Think about reaching for:

Dark chocolate can boost the levels of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium in your gut because the polyphenols in chocolate, as a prebiotic, can help them thrive.

Yogurt often has Lactobacillus acidophilus, which helps your spinal cord’s cannabinoid receptors, which are associated with your ability to regulate pain.

Probiotic shots, such as Pure Green’s Blue Biotic Shot, a new addition to Primary’s cafe menu. It is a potent combination of probiotics, blue algae, ginger, lemon, manuka honey, and filtered water.

 
Bathe Your Way Well
 
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By Hannah Woit

Do you ever want to escape into a cocoon when life gets tough, just to be alone and to tune out?

Thanks to the popularity of various wellness-conducive baths, you can have your choice of bath. Take your pick!

1. The Basic Bath:

If you’re a bathing traditionalist, a good old soak in the tub can often to the trick. Some people swear by their epsom salts, others by their favorite bath oils, but even basic baths have benefits. The temperature can be key: baths on the warmer end of the temperature spectrum have been shown to improve blood pressure and other research has indicated that they can also reduce blood sugar levels.

2. Sound Baths:

As we’ve covered here previously, sound can have a healing effect. Various studies have found links between tension reduction and improved cognitive performance. Focusing on sound can be a great option if you find yourself wanting to drown out the cacophony of city life. To step it up a notch, join a sound bath and tune out to the sound of gongs and singing bowls while also getting in some time to meditate.

3. Forest Bathing:

We’ve also discussed the power of nature in enhancing our wellbeing, especially in the workplace. But if you get a chance to become fully immersed in nature, take it! Forest bathing, also known as “Shinrin-Yoku”, the Japanese tradition of going out into nature, is gaining traction in the Western world, and it’s no wonder. Besides the fresh air and calming effect, researchers have found that it can even help reduce pain. It’s a hot topic in research right now, so we are only beginning to understand the myriad of effects nature can have on us. Be sure to use all five of your senses mindfully to soak up the benefits.

 
The Sound of Healing
 
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By Hannah Woit

What is the soundscape of your life? Honking and beeping as you walk down the city street? That collection of songs that helps get you through mile after mile on your runs? The sound of a long-distance friend or family member’s voice on the phone? That podcast you can’t get enough of?

The soundscape in your life can be a powerful influence on your mood and wellbeing. In this spirit, more and more people are gravitating towards “sound baths”, sessions where you are immersed in sound in the hopes of having some sort of positive psychological or other benefit.

Many of us are painfully aware of the environmental pollution around us in the air and water, so we seek the fresher feeling air in the woods or choose to swim in a lake far from a city rather than jump into the Hudson. However, it’s worth taking a minute to think about a different type of pollution--”noise pollution”. The  EPA defines noise pollution as “unwanted or disturbing sound” and researchers have found links between environmental noise and our cognitive performance.

The increasingly popular sound baths, often done using tuning forks, crystal or Tibetan singing bowls, or gongs, may be a way to combat noise pollution and replace it with something that feels more soothing.

Though definitive research on the impact of sound baths on health is scarce, their popularity highlights people’s beliefs in the power of sound as a potentially centering and calming tool in meditation. In fact, sound baths may also be even more powerful when it comes to newcomers to meditation. One study found that participants who were not aware of the impact of sound meditation enjoyed larger decreases in tension than their peers when a Tibetan singing bowl was played for them.

Finding it hard to calm your mind during meditation? Might be worth incorporating sound into your practice--to tune in so you can tune out.

 
An Attitude of Gratitude
 
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By Hannah Woit

When William Arthur Ward said, "Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it,” he probably wasn’t thinking about showing gratitude to others as a gift to yourself. But living a life of gratefulness can actually boost your own health and happiness.

Research has demonstrated that those who take stock of what they have to be grateful for in life tend to be happier. Focusing on gratitude has also been found to help with depression--in a study at Berkeley, a group of students receiving mental health counseling were asked to write weekly letters of gratitude to another person for 3 weeks. It seems you don’t even need to send the notes--only a minority of letter writers actually sent the letters, but still reported better health outcomes over time as compared to those receiving counseling who didn’t write letters.

Gratitude may also be the gift that keeps on giving. When the Berkeley researchers looked at the brain activity of the students using an fMRI scanner, the results they saw led them to surmise that you can make your brain more sensitive to gratitude over time, which could make you happier in the long run.

If writing isn’t your thing, you can also take a few minutes to meditate and/or visualize the things you are grateful for. If you work in Primary’s coworking space or offices, take a few minutes each day in the nap room or attend a meditation class to build a gratitude practice into your schedule.

Expressing thanks can also help your team’s performance at the office. University of Pennsylvania researchers found that participants who received a pep talk that included a thank you for their work were 50% more productive than ones who did not get a pep talk. If you are getting frustrated with the pace of a long term work project, focusing on gratitude can also make you more patient, other research indicates.

After all, as Eckhart Tolle has said, "Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance."

 
Snack Smarter
 
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By Hannah Woit

, on average, Americans spend close to 100,000 hours on work-related activities. Yeah, you’ll be needing snacks.

If you are looking to optimize your productivity, reach for a brain-boosting snack to satiate your hunger while giving your brain the fuel it needs. For extra credit, stock snacks at the office that include these 3 nutrients:

1. Probiotics:

As Scientific American put it, “Mental health may depend on creatures in the gut.” Early research indicates that probiotics may lessen symptoms of depression by increasing serotonin and/or decreasing the amount of proteins that indicate inflammation.

Sources: If you’re at Primary, you can score your probiotics by trying a kombucha (Primary serves Revive), a grapeshot juice from Pure Green, or Maple Hill yogurt. Kefir is also great, but if dairy isn’t your thing, other fermented foods, such as certain kimchi and sauerkraut, can also be good options!

2. Turmeric:

The curcumin in turmeric is an antioxidant powerhouse that may protect your brain from cell damage. In ayurvedic tradition, it is used for multiple ailments, including fatigue.

Sources: Like probiotics, turmeric is available as a dietary supplement, but you can also buy this super spice on the shelf of your local supermarket and use it as a savory seasoning atop snacks like popcorn or grab a turmeric latte.

3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

Omega-3s have been shown to lessen cognitive decline in the elderly. Research has also indicated that they may help with depression. Other studies have suggested that they can also combat inflammation.

Sources: Fish can be a great source for omega-3s, but for snacks, good bets are adding chia or flax seeds to a yogurt or, at Primary, a snack with olive oil, like a Crack of Dawn bar from Early Bird, a Brooklyn-based company.

 
Energize Your Workspace
 
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By Hannah Woit

New York City has an undeniable energy about it. Is it due to the fact that it was built on top of crystals? We’ll leave that up to you to decide, but according to the American Museum of Natural History garnet lies underground in NYC and you may come across at least one outcrop in Central Park with mica and garnet. (Another cool fact: when Pangaea was formed 450 million years ago, the land that is now NYC was at its center, for all of you who consider NYC to be the center of the world!)

Josiah Bouricius, Primary’s feng shui consultant, has paid special attention to Primary’s location and layout to help set coworking and office members up for energetic success.

One way is by looking at the space’s stars. We’re not talking about stars in the traditional terms in this case, but stars as energies that collect in different areas at different times. They can be positive or negative. When they’re positive, you can use colors, objects, or other elements as “activations”. Negative stars get “cures” to counteract them.

For example, the purple amethyst crystal you’ll see on top of the front desk when you enter Primary is positioned to cure the 20-year conflict star there.

Entrances are particularly meaningfulas the “mouth of Qi”, where energy enters a space, they set the tone for a whole space, so if you have your own office, pay special attention to them. Entryways also connect your space with the larger world. Primary has a fame star, with fire energy, in the entrance area. The chairs there are orange, which is evocative of fire, to help activate the star. If you have a fame star at the entrance to your space, you can also place a plant in the area, as their wood qi enhances the star’s fire energy.

Depending on your preferences, you can use a variety of objects as cures and activationseverything from a laughing buddha to a picture of Oprah placed strategically can impact the energy of a space.

When it comes to energy coming from the earth, Josiah uses small copper rods as cures negative energy like geopathic stress, which is radiation from the earth resulting most frequently from fault lines or underground water.

 
Your Social Media Rx
 
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By Hannah Woit

Do you feel more chipper after a few minutes on Facebook? More inspired after scrolling Instagram? Pepped up by Twitter? Have you ever actually paused to see how you feel after spending some time on social media channels? Maybe, maybe not.

It’s worth spending a moment to check in with yourself to see how you feel the next time you log off. There’s a lot of noise these days about how social media and screen time affects our wellbeing. Some point to reasons to be concerned about social media use, but the effect of it on wellness is unclear. Researchers in Austria found that while people tend to expect that Facebook will boost their mood, the more time they spend on it, they worse they feel. They chalked it up to users’ feeling as if they had wasted time. Another study indicated that Facebook can trigger envy that causes depressive feelings.

You can have a healthy approach to social media though: the same research team found that if you don’t experience Facebook-induced envy, the social media site can actually improve your mood.

The types of social media you use and how you use them also matter. Pew research found that women who use Twitter in particular multiple times, exchange 25 emails, and send two photos on their cell phones each day are 21% less stressed than women who don’t use Twitter, email, or share photos. They also found that people who are on social are more aware of the events going on in their connections’ lives, but when the events are distressing, that can make users more stressed.

You can detox your social media feeds by unfollowing or unfriending people who don’t lift you up, but if you find yourself scrolling away mindlessly on Instagram or walking away from Facebook thinking about all of the life milestones you haven’t achieved, a full-on social media break might be in order.

If the thought of being out of touch with your friends and followers for a noticeable amount of time makes you uneasy or you’re afraid of appearing unresponsive, give them a heads up. That doesn’t mean you have to mass message everyone--just change your profile photo or add a post with an image that functions like the social media equivalent of an “out of office” email. Try the one at the top of the post to get started. Enjoy!