Five advices for combating stress

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Stress can harm our physical and mental health: it may have a negative impact on our mood, cause insomnia and the development of several chronical diseases. However, avoiding stress is not an easy task.” Nowadays, the job market is extremely demanding, we face an overwhelming amount of information, and there is a huge number of technological innovations and devices distracting us continuously. The world is more and more challenging, and to live in a calm and relaxed manner seems unattainable.

However, being able to achieve peace of mind, controlling negative thoughts is crucial for a healthy mind and body. We describe bellow five techniques recommended by Harvard Health Publishing to prevent anxiety in order to live healthier:

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Advice 1: Give a good laugh

The first advice is to stay positive and laugh: these behaviours lower levels of stress hormones, reduce inflammation in arteries, and increase “good” HDL cholesterol. According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter stimulates circulation and many organs, aids muscle relaxation, and activates and relieves our stress response. It also improves our mood and our immune system and relieves pain while increasing personal satisfaction, which in turn helps to reduce depression and anxiety.

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Advice 2: Meditate

Many authors have said how important meditation is for releasing stress and managing fears and negative thoughts. And the best part is that meditation is actually free! One may meditate anytime and anywhere, improving mental and emotional health. It also boosts concentration and improves our mood. Recently, many have discovered the benefits of mindfulness, a practice that helps release anxiety and depression, and entails a number of modalities, such as mindful eatinga technique that allows us to absorb all the sounds around and various tastes of the food while eating.

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Advice 3: Practice exercise

According to Harvard Health Publishing, “every time you are physically active, whether you take a walk or play tennis, your body releases mood-boosting chemicals called endorphins”. Regular exercise is considered a natural anti-depressive, and may help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety by releasing feel-good endorphins, a natural cannabis-like brain chemical (endogenous cannabinoids), as well as other natural brain substances that can enhance our sense of wellbeing. On the other hand, when we exercise, we also take our mind off worries, escaping the cycle of negative thoughts, improving our good mood, our memory and our thinking skills. Exercise is key to achieving a happy and focused brain.

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Advice 4: Unplug

We spend our day fully connected with various technological devices such as a computer, tablet, smartphone and television. We inexorably check arriving emails, text messages, or social media posts. At the same time, we are inescapably distracted by commercials on TV or any other media. In order to avoid stress, we need to unplug for a reasonable time, saving some moments just for us, and escaping devices that can generate stress in our minds.

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Advice 5: Escape stress

As Harvard Health Publishing recommends, we should find ways to take the edge off our stress. Very simple things can give us much needed break from stressors in our life, such as a warm bath, listening to music, or spending time on a favourite hobby. Find a way that allows you to release stress and use it to alleviate anxiety.

 

Sources:

 

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Alzheimer’s Disease: hindering the onset of the condition

Many thoughts cross our mind when we think about ageing. When it comes to mental health, we are increasingly aware of the impact of Alzheimer’s disease for the patient and for his/her carers. Uncertainty makes us wonder what causes the disease and how can we prevent it.

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Understanding Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia among older adults, as explained by the National Institute of Aging from U.S.A. This is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks like driving a car, cooking a meal, or paying bills. Usually, people who suffer from the condition ask the same questions over and over, get lost easily, lose things or put them in odd places, and find simple things utterly confusing. In some cases, they become worried, angry, or violent, as the disease progresses.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association from U.S.A., individuals with Alzheimer’s dementia experience multiple symptoms that change over a period of years, and reflect the degree of damage to neurons in different parts of the brain. Early symptoms include difficulty remembering recent conversations, names or events, apathy and depression. Later symptoms vary between impaired communication; disorientation, confusion; poor judgment; behavioural changes; and difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking. Alzheimer’s disease is ultimately fatal.

Is prevention in our hands?

 Genetic is a crucial risk factor for late-onset of Alzheimer’s disease, and until now, no lifestyle factor has shown to reduce the risk of developing the condition; however, according to the Mayo Clinic website, some changes in our behaviour can help.

Evidence suggests that the same factors that place us at risk of heart disease may also increase our chances of developing Alzheimer’s.

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Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke.

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Uncontrolledvascular risk factors, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Having diabetes can be also considered a risk.

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Refraining from physical activity.

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Not pursuing a heart-healthy diet containing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, chicken, nuts and vegetables, while limiting saturated fats, red meat and sugar.

 

Additional studies also pointed out that having a mentally stimulating job, engaging in mentally stimulating activities and exercising the brain throughout life may have a positive influence on the disease’s onset. Remaining socially active may too support your brain’s health and possibly reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

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Formal education and thinking (cognitive) skills, such as memory.

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Mentally stimulating job.

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Socially engagement.

Ask for professional help

If you wish to undergo diagnosis or treatment or if you are a carer of someone with Alzheimer’s disease, you may contact us and get more information about our services. Finding an expert in the field may not be an easy task, especially if we are in a foreign country and facing a new language. Medical Port provides the access to the most appropriate specialists, arranging English-speaking staff able to understand and answer your needs and concerns.

 

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Stroke: stay safe and act fast

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 15 million people worldwide are affected by stroke each year. Of these, 5 million die and a similar number become permanently disabled. A stroke can seriously damage the brain, reducing functionality and quality of life permanently, so it is important to understand and learn how to avoid it.

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How a stroke develops in our bodies

As explained by the WHO, our brain can only function if adequately irrigated by blood. Two large blood vessels, running along either side of the neck, carry blood from the heart to the brain. Arriving at the brain, these in turn narrow gradually until becoming tiny tubular passages supplying oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the brain. When this flow of blood is significantly reduced or even interrupted; the brain loses its ability to nourish and function, becoming seriously damaged.

Effects of this condition depend on which part of the brain is affected and how severe the damage is. A stroke may affect just one part of the body, such as the face, an arm or a leg. In other situations, it can completely paralyse important bodily functions.

When it develops into its most dangerous outcome, it is called a major stroke. A very severe stroke can cause sudden death. To realize if someone is having a stroke, it is important to observe the symptoms. The most common one is a sudden weakness of the face, arm or leg, most often on one side of the body. Other symptoms may occur, including sudden onset, numbness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body; confusion; difficulty speaking or understanding speech; difficulty seeing with one or both eyes; difficulty walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; severe headache with no known cause; fainting or unconsciousness.

Symptoms of a minor stroke may be similar to those of major strokes, but milder and of shorter duration, even less than an hour. In such cases, the person recovers without treatment.

ACT FAST

Strokes can strike suddenly and be fatal if assistance is immediate. When detecting signs of stroke it is urgent to call a doctor or ambulance. A stroke can progress fast so it is imperative to take action even if the symptoms don’t appear severe. Think “FAST” and pay attention to the following symptoms:

Barry Langdon-Lassagne CC 3.0                                 Face. Ask the person to smile. Observe the lips are uneven.

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                              Arms. Ask the person to raise both arms. Is one arm drifting downwards or unable to rise?

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                             Speech. Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Notice if the speech is slurred or strange.

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                           Time. If you detect any of these signs, call an ambulance immediately.

 

Stay safe

Pursuing healthy life habits daily can save lives, especially if we stick to the following advice:

CigaretteIf you’re a smoker, quit. The risk of stroke drops immediately after a person quit using tobacco products, and can be reduced by as much as half after 1 year. Every way of smoking is harmful, being it in cigarettes, cigars, pipe smoking, tobacco chewing, and even second-hand tobacco smoke.

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Adopt a healthy diet. Eat at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day and two servings of oily fish a week. Avoid unhealthy meals with too much food, calories, fat, sugar or salt.

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Limit alcohol. We may not entirely quit alcohol, but it is important to learn how to be moderate: a man should not drink more than two alcoholic drinks a day and women not more than one.

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Practise physical activity. Exercise lowers the risk of stroke for many reasons. It helps the body to burn sugars and fats and to keep a proper weight; lowers blood pressure; increases oxygen levels in your body; reduces stress; strengthens the heart muscle and bones, and improves blood circulation and muscle tone.

Check yourself regularly

Prevention includes regularly visiting our physician and being aware of our overall health. If you are living in Portugal and need medical assistance with English-speaking staff, you may contact us and we will support you with local arrangements according to your condition and availability.

 

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Improve your health and your life with mindfulness techniques

Mindfulness refers to the ability that we have of being in the here and now, completely aware of everything we are experiencing both inside ourselves and around us. We develop this attitude by deliberately choosing to focus on the things that we usually do not pay attention to.

Mindfulness is being advocated by personalities from all the spheres of the society around the world: physicians, celebrities, politicians, sports players and C-level managers. Also referred as meditation, this technique aims to improve people’s lives by becoming more aware of the world around them, more focused, and to make better decisions everyday.

On the long term, mindfulness practice will foster the development of brain areas responsible for the integration of emotion and thought, as well as for self-awareness. These changes will help you perform better at decision making and dealing with emotional challenges.

Through systematic practice of mindfulness you will also be able to strengthen and develop new self-regulating and control strategies as you will learn how to relax and simultaneously be aware of what might be disturbing you, without losing sight of what really matters to you at any time.

Mindfulness can improve your life by: changing the way your brain works, teaching it a whole new way of functioning with more clarity, a more relaxed attention and a better control over your behavior and your personal choices.

Learning how to practice mindfulness can be hard since most people are not used to enter in the state of meditation, but these kinds of techniques can be taught with the help of professionals. Medical Port partnered with Oficina da Piscologia and developed special mindfulness programs that help you achieve the results you need in your life. Whether it is to lose weight, be more focused at work, sleep better or have a healthier lifestyle. Learn more about our mindfulness program here.