Breathe Deep People

“I’m going home to watch some TV and de-stress!” How often have you heard this? But lying like a couch potato in front of the television doesn’t lower blood pressure at all.

The easiest way to de-stress is to do some deep breathing exercises.

They recommend around half an hour a day, but actually, even a few minutes help.

What a bargain! It doesn’t cost anything and we all do it anyway.  Even better, we don’t need a special place or fancy equipment. In fact, if you catch a taxi, bus or train home, you can do it on the way and be all nice and relaxed and de-stressed by the time you get there.

There are several different methods of breathing to relax but the American Institute of Stress recommends a technique called the “Quieting Response”. It only takes 6 seconds to do and apparently it works like a bomb.

First, you smile inwardly, with your mouth and your eyes. We all know the benefits of smiling outwardly, but this is something different, it somehow makes you relax. (Go on; try it quickly while you are reading this.) Then they tell you to imagine holes in the soles of your feet. As you breathe in (a nice deep breath) you visualize hot air flowing up through your body to your lungs. You relax each part of your body as the hot air hits. Then you breathe it all out again, imagining it flowing down, down, down—back out through the holes in your soles!

Pretty darn easy, right? I’m going to try it next time I’m stressed. Kids get stressed too you know!

True story, often when we are stressed we tense up and it takes a concerted physical act to release that tension.

Did you know?

  • If you opened up your lungs flat, they would cover an entire tennis court?
  • In people, the left lung is smaller than the right lung. Why? So that there‘s space for your heart.
  • The average person breathes around 27 litres of air a minute.
  • Children laugh about 300 times a day whereas adults only laugh around 15 times. We’ve talked about laughing before – it releases all those good hormones.
  • Last bit of useless information… when you sneeze, the air comes out of your body at around 16 km per hour!

Take time out to sniff the daisies people!

Sibo

When the chips are down

Potatoes are gluten free! True story.

We were shopping the other day and had stopped at the frozen food isle to get some veggies and chips. Whilst mum was busy agonising over beans or peas, I noticed a dude taking packets of chips out of his trolley and putting them back in the freezer. He had about ten packets. He then rummaged around in the piles in the freezer, picked out random bags of the same brand of chips and placed them in his trolley.

I watched for a while, entranced.

Then I couldn’t help myself, I asked him what was wrong with the chips he had put back (they looked exactly the same to me.)

Mum gave me one of her dirty looks that says “Sibo! Why are you bothering strangers? Oh wait… WHY are you talking to strangers in the first place?”

The man shrugged his shoulders and told me he did not want “gluten free” chips. He pointed to a speech bubble on the top of the packet.

Mum clutched her head, completely forgetting he was a stranger and spoke to him herself. “Oh my word! Whatever next?” Then she checked our chips to see that they weren’t of the ‘gluten free’ variety.

A few weeks later we popped into a different store and mum grabbed a bag of oven-bake chips without thinking. When we got home, she noticed they were gluten free. She moaned to Dad about how they were taking all the goodness out of everything and soon we might just as well eat twigs.

Dad just smiled and gave mum a hug. Then he told her that chips are made of potatoes and there is no gluten in them to begin with.  It was just packaging. Some people have gluten allergies and don’t know which foods contain what. So having the information on the package made it easier.

Think mum felt a bit foolish, because she huffed and puffed and said they might as well label them ‘boneless’ too then!

I did some research and according to Medical News TodayGluten is a family of proteins found in grains like wheat, spelt, rye and barley. Gliadin and glutenin are the two main gluten proteins.”

Apparently most people tolerate gluten quite finely, but some folk suffer from a condition called Celiac disease and gluten is really bad for them.

The bottom line is—potatoes do not contain gluten.

You can have your chips and eat them people!

Sibo

Getting Organised

Stress is a horrible thing. It often sneaks up on a person and causes all sorts of problems. There are many reasons why one gets stressed out but one of the worst causes of stress is being disorganised and finding yourself running out of time, or arriving at a place without important stuff that you need.

Like the homework you left on the dining room table or your PE clothes, or your permission slip to go on an outing.

There’s a relatively easy way to eliminate such stress.

Plan your day.

Ergh! Sibo. I hear you say… that’s so boring.

Not really—if you plan your day, you’d probably have more free time to do fun stuff.  

How many times have we all rushed around, looking for something at the last minute, panicking like crazy when we can’t find it—only to find that it’s right there, under our nose. Or even worse, having to leave the house without it.

Use a diary or planner and write down everything that you have to do the night before.

This way you won’t wake up in the middle of the night, think of something you have to do the next day and lay there worrying that you’ll have forgotten it by morning.

Part of planning, is developing a routine.

  • Try to go bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time in the morning. Set two alarms if you have a hard time waking up.
  • Have a shower, get dressed, and eat your breakfast (or the other way around if you are a messy eater).
  • Rather be ready to leave five minutes early than be running five minutes late.
  • Pack your school things the night before. Make certain all the stuff you need for the next day is in your case before you go to sleep. One less thing to worry about.
  • Create a routine for yourself as far as your homework is concerned too. Try and do it at the same time every day. Don’t leave it for after supper when you are too tired to think either.
  • Keep the space where you do your homework neat tidy so that you don’t get distracted.
  • Lastly, don’t multi-task. While you might think you’re getting loads of things done all at once, usually nothing gets done properly. Do one thing at a time and do it well.

Being organised means being in control.

Sibo

Bloody Business

South Africa is currently running out of blood. That sounds crazy–especially when people are walking around full of blood that they could share. Well… maybe not everybody can share their blood because there are conditions prescribed as far as sharing blood goes.  However, it’s seriously scary, because one never knows when you might be in a situation where you need safe blood.

What is “safe blood”?

It’s blood that is free from HIV, Hepatitis B and C and syphilis – these can easily be transmitted through transfusion.

If you are fit and healthy please consider donating – you never know when you yourself might need a blood transfusion.

In South Africa, every unit of blood that is collected goes through stringent testing to ensure that it is safe.

So how much of your precious life blood do they take? Only 480ml. It’s less than 10% of the total blood volume of an adult. Most adults have between 4.5 and 5 litres of blood in their bodies. The lost fluid is replaced in the body within 36 hours. (However, if you weigh less than 50kg you’re not allowed to donate because you don’t actually have enough blood to spare.)

You are, by law, not allowed to give blood more than every 56 days. This means that a person would only give three or four times a year. Not too much to ask really – is it?

In South Africa people between the age of 16 and 65 are allowed to give blood —if they are fit and healthy. There’s a questionnaire that has to be completed, regarding your health and life style. A finger prick test is done to check iron levels before donating. Blood pressure is also checked to make sure that people are actually healthy enough to donate.

Remember – you need to eat and drink enough fluid (not alcohol) before donating.

Or course, if you’ve had flu or have been sick in the last few days you are not allowed to donate because it would be bad for you. Also, if you have been to the dentist or had surgery recently, you could also be excluded. Recent body piercings and tattoos would kick you out of the system too.

Don’t even think about trying to share your blood if you have had malaria—then you have to wait for three whole years before you can donate again.

For more information on giving blood – go to http://www.sanbs.org.za/ .

Give people! It might save lives!

Blood is life.

Sibo.

Weeds and Seeds

You’ve most likely all heard people say “Oh my goodness, you’ve grown like a weed!” meaning that you have grown taller since that person last saw you. Of course, this is really irritating when the last time was about ten years ago, obviously you would have grown up—duh! Adults are always doing this.

I was working in my veggie garden last weekend, trying to get it all neat and tidy for World Food Day on Tuesday  16th October, when I realised that there were lovely little patches of bright green, dark green and in-between green that did not belong there. I was amazed to see that weeds had sprouted, literally overnight, into real plants that required some serious attention.

Most probably the few drops of rain helped them to grow faster too! Not sure what it is about Mother Nature, but rain always makes plants sprout much faster than municipality water does.

We have a composter into which we throw all our veggie scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds and stuff from the garden, and so we have been making our own lovely compost. This is great stuff when it comes to growing things, but you do get some surprises too! I’d planted spinach and celery, together with some herbs. Of course I also planted flowers – to make the veggie bed look pretty. Dad said I was crazy and should plant the whole thing with vegetables, but I thought that was a tad boring.

Back to my surprise… up came all these little tomato plants. They had survived the heat in the composter and quickly germinated once they saw sunlight. So we now have some unplanned, fabulous looking, tomatoes too.

I realised that weeds are, in fact, a bit like problems too. You get those skinny little ones that are easy to get rid of with your fingers. Then you get those plants that have roots that look like a carrot on steroids and need the right tools to get rid of them. It certainly does not help to just pull the top leaves off and leave that nasty root behind because it will simply grow again—very quickly too.

To celebrate World Food Day I’m going to share ‘Sibo and the Veggie Bed’ on my website  for anybody to read freely for the next couple of days.

Try growing your own food people!

Sibo

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Friends for Life

Many people suffer from anxiety problems these days. Anxiety is having an irrational fear of something or somebody (not to be confused with nervousness). If you don’t have this disorder, then it’s easy to brush it off and think that the person is being full of nonsense, but in actual fact it’s a very real thing. It can affect every aspect of life—from school, to work, to relationships.

What happens is that something upsets or affects the person and, in a very short period of time, they have an anxiety or panic attack.

These are symptoms of these attacks (normally the person won’t have all of them, but could have at least four):

  • Anxiety and panic
  • Sudden overwhelming fear
  • Trembling
  • Palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Sense of choking

It is quite scary watching a friend or relation have one of these attacks if you don’t know what to do.

There are ways that you can help. Obviously not to stop them having the panic attack in the first place—that is something that only the person themselves can do—but if you know how to behave around them when it happens, it makes it easier for both of you.

Let them know that it is okay if they leave the place that is causing anxiety. Sometimes being in a crowd can bring on an attack. Just quietly lead them away from all the people, but don’t pressure them in any way.

Let them know that they are safe. Even if it’s perfectly obvious to you that there’s nothing to worry about, it’s a very real fear for the person who is having the attack. Reassure them that there is no real reason to be panicking. Remind them that you are there to help them.

Reassure the person that the attack won’t last long. Panic attacks and anxiety attacks are only temporary, but sometimes the person forgets that and so it is good to remind them.

Gently remind them to breathe. People having attacks often gasp alarmingly and forget to breathe! Here’s a good way to do it… tell them to take a deep breath and count to four, exhale again to the count of four. Do this over and over. Breathe with them.

Please do stay with them. Do not leave them alone.

Things you SHOULD NOT DO…

  • Get irritated and yell at them.
  • Ask them why they are panicking.
  • Tell them to calm down.
  • Brush it off and say they are imagining things.
  • Talk rubbish and say “Oh look! There’s a flying tiger!” to try and distract them.

Be a good friend.

Sibo
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Sleep Tight

Last week’s blog was about being prepared for exams. One of the things mentioned was that you need to get enough sleep.

Often sleep is underrated and people tend to think that they can get by with fewer hours. Actually, this isn’t such a smart thing to do.

Between the ages of seven and twelve years old, it is recommended that one gets ten or eleven hours sleep a night. This is not just to stop kids from becoming cranky either—this is why you need enough sleep

  • Muscles repair themselves during the night. Not only arm and leg muscles, this includes the heart muscle too.
  • Sleep controls the signals that indicate when one is hungry or full – and this allows a person to maintain a good weight.
  • Whilst slumbering at night, brains store up all the stuff learnt during the day – so that it can be recalled later, when needed.
  • If one doesn’t sleep properly at night, it’s harder to pay attention at school during the day. Mistakes are made more easily if you’re tired.

If you don’t get enough sleep at night scientists recommend having a little nap during the day to make up the sleep time. Don’t take that nap during school time though—you’d been looking for trouble!

Apparently—it should take about fifteen to twenty minutes to fall asleep from when your head hits the pillow.

Most kids don’t have a problem falling asleep, but if you do there are a couple of things that can help – like having a warm glass of milk before bedtime, or having a bath. Reading a book before you go to sleep is also better than watching television. It’s important not to be too hot or too cold in bed—that can also disturb your sleep patterns.

Of course teenagers can get away with a little less sleep – like eight to nine hours a night. Although often they don’t get anywhere near this amount of sleep and so they really do need to sleep in over the weekends.

Seems like the older you get the less sleep you need. Most people need around eight hours a night to function properly though scientists recently found out that there are some people who have a rare mutated gene condition that allow them to sleep only six hours without any negative effects.

Sleep tight and sweet dreams.

Sibo
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Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude!

The last in our series of Women’s Month blogs is one about attitude. (Circle of Life, Power posing, Health Tips for Women, With Compliments)

Often we simply look at things the wrong way. It’s so easy to be fed up and miffed with somebody or something and let it spoil our day. It’s also easy to brood and let things fester and before we know it, something relatively little has turned into a great huge monster that discolours life in general.

Not only our lives, but those around us!

Here are a couple of easy methods that will help kick those gloomy habits.

  • Start a gratitude journal.
    It does not have to be a fancy one; get an exercise book and decorate the cover. Write down five things that you’re grateful for every day. This way one starts thinking (and acting) positively, looking for the good in life. It’s a well-known fact that having a positive attitude increases one’s happiness. Let’s face it – it’s hard to be depressed or stressed if you’re a happy-chappy, right?
  • Replace the word ‘have’ with ‘get.
    Sounds crazy but it makes a person see things in a different light. Instead of having to go to school or work, we get to go to school or work. This means we are fortunate to do so – many people don’t have jobs or would love to be able to go to work. Saying “I get to go to school’ means I’m able to learn and get somewhere in life. Even saying I get to go grocery shopping, implies that you have the money to do it, which is great.
  • Walk away from whingy whiny people.
    Folk who complain all the time drag us down too. If you can’t walk away, then don’t agree with them and validate their feelings.
  • Breathe!
    This is an easy one, but requires us to focus on how we do it. Often we find that we tend to stop breathing when concentrating, or we breathe in a shallow manner. Take deep breathes people. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Start with breathing in to the count of five, and breathing out again to the count of five and gradually increase the count. Oxygenating our bodies properly relieves stress, helps with pain and just generally makes one feel better. Try it.

YOU have total control over YOUR thoughts and actions!

It’s a change of mind-set people. Have a happy day!

Sibo

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Circle of Life

Hah! You didn’t really think you were going to get away without a blog on exercise during women’s month… did you? (No! Power posing does not count as exercise.)

Whilst smiling and complimenting might exercise your soul (as well as those of other people) and laughing might be great for your belly and face, it is important to stay fit.

Exercising releases those endorphins that make you feel happy and lessen the perception of pain. Apparently it does not matter how long you exercise for to release those hormones – the effect is the same, whether you go for an hour long jog or jog on the spot for ten minutes.

If cycling, jogging or gym is your thing – then great – you don’t have to read any further. However, if you are one of those ladies who groan at the thought of doing some physical activity – then this is for you.

Hula hoop people!

It’s the most awesome activity that the whole family can do.

It strengthens core muscles and improves posture no end, in addition to shaving centimetres off the squidgy bits of body and defining leg muscles.

Kids can happily use the normal hula hoops that you find easily in shops.

But ladies… here’s the good part – you can make your own, extra-large hula hoop, very cheaply!

Toddle off to the local hardware store (or nursery) and buy five metres of 25mm black piping. Yup – the stuff that gets used in the garden or irrigation. At the same time, get a 25mm connector and some insulation tape.

Lay the piping down in the sun for an hour or so to soften it slightly. Then chop off approximately 50cm from either end.

Boil the kettle, pour some boiling water into a mug and quickly dip each end of the piping into the water, then plug them together with the connector whilst the plastic is still soft.

Voila! You have a huge hoop.

You are probably going to look at it and gasp… NO WAYS CAN I USE THAT THING!!

But try it. Go on. Try. You’ll see that hula hooping with an enormous hoop is much easier than one of those small ones.

Taping it up to look pretty is optional. It does make it a little heavier, which is even better for losing weight.

Whilst you are hooping, you can do arm exercises to further tone up.

Or mediate and plan your day.

Let’s all BE who we ARE ladies.

Sibo

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Posing for Power!

Still celebrating Women’s month this week and today we’re talking about posing for power, or maybe that should be power posing.

Did you know that the way you sit or stand, even for a short a period like two minutes, raises testosterone levels and lowers the stress hormone cortisol?

Long words… what do they mean… basically it boils down to the fact that research has shown it makes you feel different and therefore you’ll do your job better or interact with somebody in a more confident way—and better still, be perceived in a different way.

Like… as not such a pushover!  If that sounds good to you – read on!

Often when we are not sure of ourselves we tend to cringe into as small a space as possible… wrapping our arms around our bodies, curling into a little ball, trying to be invisible. Right?

Well, power posing is all about stretching and expanding your body to take up as much space as humanly possible.

It really has been proven that the way you stand can make you feel more confident.

Testosterone is your “dominance” hormone. Often one associates this with men, but women have those hormones too and it’s time we started using them more!  The amazing fact is that after just two minutes of standing in a power pose, those hormones can rise by as much as twenty per cent!

Even better, not only do your good hormones rise, but the meanie old cortisol (stress) hormones take a dive. It’s common knowledge that when a person is less stressed, they can think and act a whole lot clearer.

You don’t have to stand like that in public either, you can do it in private, before you have to go and talk to your boss, the head master or a parental agent – anybody who makes you feel anxious or nervous without good reason.

This works if you are being bullied too – own your space!

What exactly is a power stance? It’s not hard and there are different poses—but this is the most common:

  • Stand tall with your legs apart, shoulders down and back, head up.
  • Puff your chest out
  • Put your hands on your hips (yes – just like superwoman!)
  • Breathe deeply (in through your nose, out through your mouth—quality breaths people).

Researchers also say that power stances actually start with sleeping. No more curling up in foetal positions! You might wake up wondering why you feel out of sorts. Rather lie in an open position with your arms and legs outstretched!

Go for it ladies – own your power!

Sibo
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