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    4 Ways To Get Better Quality Sleep. Plus, WIN With Sloom

    Struggling to get those precious ZZZ’s? You’re not alone. 1 in 14 South Africans suffer from insomnia according to a Human Sciences Research Council study. But, to become your healthiest self, sleep has to be at the forefront of your wellness routine. This is why it’s so important to improve sleep quality.
    And although it might feel like there is nothing to be done when you’re counting sheep, there are actually a few things you can do to get better quality sleep.
    But first, what causes insomnia?
    The answer isn’t always simple. But, all that tossing and turning can often be linked to underlying problems with your lifestyle, environment, or overall health. When it comes to your environment, there are a few things you can do to make a positive difference.
    Here are 4 things you can do to improve sleep quality right now
    1. Cool it!
    Are you one of those people who loves feeling the heat and getting cozy when you get into bed? That might be part of the reason you’re struggling to get quality sleep. In fact, A National Sleep Foundation poll found that a cool room temp was one of the most important factors in getting a good night’s sleep.
    According to doctors, the best temperature to sleep is approximately 18.3°C. So it might be time to send your heaters and electric blankets on vacay for a bit. Sorry!

    2. Stay In The Dark
    Think that crack beneath your door or semi-sheer curtains aren’t doing too much damage? Think again! Being exposed to light at night may be linked to depression, anxiety, and obesity. And of course, it impacts the quality of your sleep. Exposure to light actually blocks the production of melatonin, which then interrupts your sleep cycle.
    So when you turn off the lights, look for any spots where light is creeping in. Buy black-out curtains, and cover any other spaces where light creeps through. That includes putting stickers over that flashing WiFi router light and if you live with other people roll up a towel and place it at the bottom of the door.
    3. Get Moving
    Yip, that’s right. Exercising really can help improve sleep quality. Recent research has found that exercise decreases sleep complaints as well as insomnia. Plus, it was found that moderate-to-vigorous exercise could improve sleep quality by reducing the time it takes to fall asleep. Say cheers to counting sheep!
    Not sure where to start? Try this 25 minute Total-Body HIIT workout.

    4. Make Your Bed, And Lie In It!
    It might seem like a lie that you tell yourself when you’re buying cute bedding or a new mattress, but what you’re sleeping on actually does impact your sleep. Research has shown that sleeping on a good mattress with adjustable firmness, promotes comfort, proper spinal alignment, and quality sleep.
    That’s why we love Sloom. They’re a South African brand that aims to give you the best night’s sleep without any of the confusion or frustration that often comes with buying a new mattress or pillows. They are really well known for their customisable and adjustable mattress that you can change on the fly. And now, they’ve upped the ante with a new product (spoiler alert: you can win it!)
    Ever heard of a height adjustable memory foam pillow? Sloom will soon be launching this first-of-its-kind in SA to help you get quality sleep. The good news is that you could win 2 of these pillows, valued at R1 200, before the official launch.
    How do you enter?
    It’s so easy!
    1. Make sure that you are following us on instagram @womenshealthmagsa and Then fill in your details here.3. The winner will be chosen randomly.4. To be eligible for the prize, you must be over 18 and a South African resident.5. The winner will be randomly selected and notified.

    READ MORE ON: Sleep wellness Win More

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    What Is Holotropic Breathwork—And What Can It Do For Your Mental Health?

    There are a lot of trendy treatments out there that promise to bring a new level of awareness to your mental health. But there’s one, in particular, that’s been popping up all over social media as of late, even though it’s not exactly new: holotropic breathwork.
    Holotropic breathwork is a breathing practice where you do fast, controlled breathing patterns, usually in a group setting, to help influence your mind and emotions, says Prof Matthew Johnson, a professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Johns Hopkins Medicine, who is researching holotropic breathwork.
    The name derives from the Greek words holos, which means whole, and trepein, which means moving in the direction of something. It was developed by psychiatrists Stanislav and Christina Grof in the 1970s as a way for people to develop an altered state of consciousness without using drugs. The idea is that it can push people toward positive transformation and wholeness. It’s also used as a tool in therapy, and it’s now even being studied as a potential treatment for people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
    Got questions on how, exactly, this all works? Here’s what you need to know.
    What does holotropic breathwork do?
    Holotropic breathwork is not going for a calming effect and instead has a goal of reaching a psychedelic type of experience, per Johnson. “It may not necessarily be easy, and it will be intense,” he says. “But it can be an opportunity to explore one’s own mind in a useful way.” It’s meant to trigger intense emotions, sensory changes, and insights.
    It is different from other breathing exercises, BTW. It’s meant to be done in pairs and overseen by someone who has been specially trained in holotropic breathwork, explains Dr Laurane McGlynn, a licensed psychologist and certified holotropic breathwork facilitator who offers weekend workshops.
    The sessions are usually set to specific kinds of music and can go on for up to three hours. “Of all of the different breathing exercises, holotropic breathwork is more on the evocative and energetic side,” Johnson says. “The breathing is definitely heavier than some other varieties.”
    READ MORE: Feeling Burned Out? Try This Super Simple Breathing Technique
    What happens during holotropic breathwork?
    Holotropic breathwork sessions are typically done in groups, with people pairing off. One person is the breather, who actually does the breathing exercise, while the other is the sitter, who is essentially there to observe. “The sitter’s role is simply to be present and available to support the breather—not to interfere, interrupt, or try to guide the process,” McGlynn says. “In addition, trained facilitators are available to offer support or body work—focused release work—as needed or requested by the breather.”
    During a session, the room is usually darkened, and cushions, mattresses, and blankets are available for the breather to use. One session usually lasts from two and a half to three hours, and there’s a schedule from start to finish. “In the first hour of a breathing session, music with fast rhythms, such as drumming music, is used to support breathing,” McGlynn explains. “In the second hour, more dramatic pieces of music are used to facilitate breakthroughs. In the last hour, slow or spiritual music is played.”
    READ MORE: How To Use Breathing To Get A Better Workout

    The breather has their eyes closed and lies down on a mat. They use their own breath and the music in the room “to enter a non-ordinary state of consciousness. This state activates the natural inner healing process of the individual’s psyche, bringing him or her a particular set of internal experiences,” McGlynn says. While there can be recurring themes with holotropic breathwork, she points out that “no two sessions are ever alike.”
    As for what this feels like, there’s a range. “At more extreme levels, someone can feel removed from themselves, like they’re not in their own body or they might actually feel more in touch with their own body,” Johnson says. “There is often sobbing and people may cough up a lot of phlegm. Sometimes folks will feel like they’re purging the body of toxins or negative thoughts.”
    At the end of the session, the breather is encouraged to create a mandala (geometric configuration of symbols) to visually represent their experience, McGlynn says. There may also be a group discussion at the end where people can share their experience.
    READ MORE: 5 Breathing Drills That Work Your Core Muscles — No Crunches Required
    Can you do holotropic breathwork on your own?
    Not really. Certain elements have to be in place for the breathing exercise to be actually considered holotropic breathwork, according to McGlynn. “If it is shorter or done alone, then it is not holotropic breathwork,” she says.
    Why is partnering up so important? “If a person encounters material that may be difficult to process, they do not have any support to process or integrate that experience,” McGlynn explains. “Holotropic breathwork offers a safe and supportive setting to process the experiences a breather may encounter during their session.” That’s where the sitter comes in.
    If you want to give it a shot, you can find a practitioner here or here.

    This article was originally published in

    READ MORE ON: Mental Health More

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    What General Health Checks You Should Be having, According to Your Age

    Haven’t had a health check in a while, or ever?
    You’re not alone. Most people wait until they’re sick to see a GP, so there’s not usually much time in a consultation to also talk about preventative health.
    So, should you book a check with your GP just to talk about what you can do to stay well? And if so what should you be discussing?
    It depends on your life stage.

    Doctors won’t check you for everything
    It may surprise you there is no evidence that a “general health checks” will give you better health outcomes. But at varying ages, it’s hard to know exactly what you need to get at the ‘general’ health check.
    Some preventive checks in low-risk and otherwise well patients have shown no benefit, including some blood tests and imaging investigations, such as whole body CTs or MRIs for cancer screening.
    As well as being a waste of your time and money, there is another concern with generic health screening: it may lead to overdiagnosis, which results in additional tests, appointments, anxiety, drugs and even operations. Ironically, this can leave you less healthy.
    This is why doctors don’t “check you for everything”, but are guided by what you personally would benefit from, based on your individual history, as well as which tests have evidence for their benefits outweighing any harms.
    One of your doctor’s key considerations will be your age.

    READ MORE: How To Adapt Your Fitness and Nutrition For Every Age

    Young adults (20–30s)
    The main evidence-based screening check for young adults is the cervical screening test for women. This is a five-yearly cervical swab which looks for the human papillomavirus (HPV) and pre-cancerous cells.
    When young women present for their cervical smear test, several other important preventative discussions often take place, including pregnancy prevention or planning.
    As young men don’t need an equivalent screening test, they often miss out on the chance to talk about prevention.
    Both men and women in this age group should find a GP with whom they feel comfortable discussing STI (sexually transmitted infection) checks, skin cancers, mental health struggles and intimate partner violence.
    Even otherwise fit and healthy young adults should consider talking with their GP about what they can do to prevent chronic disease down the track. Health behaviours such as diet, sleep, smoking and exercise levels in young adulthood increase or decrease the risk of developing conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, strokes, and cancer down the track.
    Finally, regular checks from dentists and optometrists can pick up problems early.

    READ MORE: 4 Ways to Support Healthy Ageing

    40–50 year olds
    Despite the adage “life begins at 40”, this is the age at which many of the things that can cause an early death are worth screening for.
    Current evidence shows benefits in assessing your blood pressure, cholesterol, and risk of heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and skin cancer.
    If you have a higher risk for certain cancers (such as breast or colorectal cancer), then screening for these may start around this age too.
    It’s also not too late to improve your longevity with some lifestyle changes so discussing things like losing weight, stopping smoking, and improving your exercise are all important.
    As with young adults, women should continue getting a cervical smear test every five years.
    And everyone should consider getting checked by a dentist and optometrist.
    Mental health may deteriorate around this age too, because the strain from looking after children, ageing parents and demanding careers can all come to a head. Input from a psychologist may be helpful.
    50–65 year olds
    Patients often comment on the 50th “birthday present” they find in the mail: a stool sample collection kit for colorectal cancer screening. While it’s not the highlight of your 50s, it is effective in saving lives through early detection of this cancer, with checks recommended every two years.
    Women will also be invited to start mammograms for breast cancer screening every two years (unless they have already started in their 40s, depending on their individual risk).
    The third health issue to start screening for in your 50s is osteoporosis, a condition where bones become fragile and your risk of a fracture increases. Osteoporosis is painless and therefore often not discovered until too late. You can start checking your risk for this at home via an online calculator, such as this one from the Garvan Institute.
    Oral health and eye checks remain important in this age group as well.

    READ MORE: 6 Anti-Ageing Products That Will REALLY Make You Look Younger

    Several immunisations are recommended from the age of 65, including shingles and influenza, as your immunity starts to wane and your risk of serious illness increases.
    Other preventative checks include those for your vision, dental health, hearing, and your risk of falls. These often involve allied health providers who can screen, monitor and treat you as needed.
    Some of your other regular screening will stop in your mid-70s, including for colorectal, cervical and breast cancer.
    This article was originally published on The Conversation.

    READ MORE ON: Health Tips Health Tips For every Age More

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    Struggling To Sleep During Your Period? This Might Be Why

    For a number of women, no matter how early a night they get or how many alarms they set for the morning, during that time of the month waking can be an increasingly difficult affair. But while it’s easy to blame a perceived lack of energy or motivation to get up and attack the morning, it turns out there are a number of factors at play, showing just how complex the female body really is. According to Dr Kat Lederle, sleep scientist and author of Sleep Sense: Improve Your Sleep, Improve Your Health, periods can have a significant impact on our sleep-wake cycle, even causing disruption.
    The reason periods impact our sleep is largely due to ovarian hormones which have receptors in the brain that are also involved in sleep regulation. As these hormones fluctuate and change during the menstrual cycle, they can effect sleep changes and our circadian rhythm. When you think about it, the body is looking to create a stable environment for a fertilised egg to develop, so it makes sense that it will do all it can to ensure adequate rest in the form of sleep is achieved. PMS can also contribute to bad sleep, with many who experience low moods, cramps, sensitivity and anxiety experiencing poor sleep.

    READ MORE: Keep Getting Ingrown Hairs In Your Vagina Area? How To Fix The Prob, According To A Gyno

    Speaking to Glamour, Dr Lederle explained that the worst sleep quality can be expected a few days into menstruation. “Those who often notice poor sleep quality in the late luteal phase [right before you get your next period] and your first few days of menstruation,” she said. “When levels of hormones like progesterone and oestrogen decline towards the end of the luteal phase, some women start to experience sleep problems, including for the first few days of menstruation.”
    According to the Sleep Health Foundation, up to 7 in 10 women say their sleep changes before their period, with the most common time frame being 3 to 6 days before having the period. Those who suffer the most disrupted sleep tend to be PMS sufferers; some report feeling sleepier during the day, others are restless at night, and many struggle to get to sleep and stay asleep.

    So, what can you do to help get your sleep back on track? Keep a diary of your symptoms for three months and list your symptoms day by day, as well as when your period starts and stops. If it’s found that your sleep problems have a link to PMS, you have a better knowledge of when to expect the disruption the following month. In the days before this time, it’s recommended to get plenty of rest and sleep, stay active and maintain a good diet, and try to get lots of outdoor light before and during your PMS.

    This story was first published on

    READ MORE ON: Periods Sexual Health Sleep More

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    This is how you get out of that scroll hole

    Have you ever found yourself stuck in a scroll hole? This is what happens when you want to get to the end of the internet.
    Doom scrolling
    Just refreshed your Twitter feed for the umpteenth time today? You’re not the only one. “The tendency to endlessly scroll from one bad news story to another has grown over the past 18 months,” warns Tanya Goodin, digital detox expert and author of My Brain Has TooMany Tabs Open. This habit, also known as doom scrolling, is specific to your smartphone. Unlike your TV, your iPhone is always there, offering you continuous access to, let’s face it, the now rather depressing world.

    READ MORE: Is Your Smartphone Addiction Causing You To Gain Weight?

    We love misery
    This may sound strange, but your brain loves to cling to negative news. “And the algorithms that drive news feeds know this all too well,” explains Goodin. Reading bad news triggers the fight-flight response, but your brain also hates leaving things unfinished. And so arises the psychological phenomenon where you have a fear of interrupted or unfinished tasks, also known as the Zeigarnik effect. And you just want to soak up more bad news.

    READ MORE: Should You Go Through Your S.O.’s Phone? A Flow Chart

    Pandemic = infodemic
    This harmful effect is particularly associated with digital media. In the early days of the pandemic, consumption of stressful online news (which some researchers have called social media’s first “infodemic”) was associated with increased levels of depression, anxiety and stress. Research found that this was not the case with newspapers or magazines. The choice of your reading material therefore determines a lot.

    READ MORE: 15 Best Journalling Apps To Start The New Year With More Mindfulness

    Vibe check
    It is not only news that can temper your mood. If scrolling through your perfectly filtered feed fuels your anxiety, it can be just as damaging. “If you find yourself getting gloomier, log out and do something completely different,” Goodin advises. And that really doesn’t mean you should delete all your apps: ‘Dissociating yourself from (social) media is not good for your mental well-being, any more than overconsumption of news or social updates is.’ Keep it in balance.

    This story was first published in

    READ MORE ON: Health Tips Life Mental Health More

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    Covid-19: What’s Next for South Africa – And When Will It Be Over?

    Since the last wave of Covid-19, Omicron, hit South Africa at the end of last year, it seems that things have been looking decidedly up. Schools have done away with rotational attendance, and most workplaces are even opening up, which means regular commutes are back. Masks seem to be worn less and less, and Coachella just announced zero Covid-19 regulations at this year’s festival.
    However, some places still uphold Covid-19 restrictions, while others are lax. The uncertainty is confusing, perhaps summed up best by that *highly* relatable moment Chrissy Teigan had on Insta. There’s just way too much confusing, and contradicting, info up in the air.
    So… is Covid-19 over?
    The short answer? No. Professor Salim Abdul Karim, an epidemiologist who shared the latest insights on the virus during interview on JacarandaFM, noted that while there’s been a decrease in virus rates, we’re not out of the woods yet. However, the noted dearth in infections raises economic opportunities that we can capitalise on while it lasts, he advised. “It’s not that we’re only acting on the science, we’re having to balance it with the needs of the economy,” said Karim.
    READ MORE: How Can I Tell If My Symptoms Are Allergies, Or A Possible COVID-19 Infection?
    Expect a new wave
    According to the pattern of the virus, Karim reckons that we’re looking at another wave of infection in the next few months, likely around April. Whether or not this will prove devastating is a different question considering South Africa has only reached a vaccination rate of 30%. Karim and many other health professionals advise that it’s important that the population gets vaccinated, since this is the fastest way to lessen restrictions and the burden of disease.
    Furthermore, experts have warned that the virus is unlikely to go away at all. Instead, we will probably face more waves, each with different intensities. Plus, having the virus once doesn’t mean you won’t be infected again.
    READ MORE: Nearly Half Of COVID-19 Infections Could Be Asymptomatic, New Study Suggests
    What you can do
    If you haven’t yet, you can go get vaccinated. If you’ve had your shot, you can schedule a booster dose when you’re due.
    The reality is that Covid-19 is far from over, but we’re definitely a lot closer than we were before.

    READ MORE ON: Coronavirus COVID-19 Health News Health Tips More

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    How Much Water You Should Be Drinking Daily, According To A Nutritionist

    Given the emphasis on hydration in health circles (downing enough of the clear stuff has been linked to improved mood and brain function and a happily functioning digestive tract) it might not be something you think about that much –after all, your reusable water bottle never leaves your side…
    But. Although some experts would have you think it’s as simple as aiming for two litres of liquid per day, in reality it’s far more complicated than that.
    As nutritional therapist and co-founder of Your Body Programme Terry Fairclough reveals, factors such as your activity levels, the weather, your health and whether you’re pregnant all need to be considered when working out how much you should be drinking per day.
    How Much Water Should I Drink a Day: Your 5-Step Checklist
    1. What is your current weight?
    To find the base amount you should be drinking per day:
    Multiply your weight in kg by 0.6
    Divide this figure by 15
    For example, if you weigh 60kg: 60 x 0.6 ÷ 15 = 2.5 litres per day
    “Remember that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables will increase water intake, meaning you can drink less water,” says Fairclough, “while, drinking too much coffee, tea and alcohol will act as a diuretic, meaning you will need more.”
    2. What are today’s training goals?
    Did you know that you can lose up to 6-10% of your body’s water content, via sweat, when you exercise ? Which, considering even just a drop of 2% can have a noticeable effect on your performance levels, is a lot. Helps to explain why that uphill sprint suddenly feels so much harder than it ever has done before. Did you know that muscle is about 80% water? ‘The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking o.5 litres about two hours before exercise, and at regular intervals during your workout to replace fluids lost by sweating,’ says Fairclough.
    “If you exercise or engage in any activity that makes you sweat, you need to drink extra 1.5 to 2.5 cups (400 to 600 millilitres) of water to compensate for the fluid loss – if you’re doing short bouts of exercise. For more intense training lasting more than an hour (for example, running a marathon), you will need even more – the exact amount depends on how much you sweat during exercise, and the duration and type of exercise.”
    When undertaking intense exercise, Fairclough also recommends hydrating with a sport drink that contains sodium to help replace that lost in sweat and so reduce the chances of developing hyponatremia (see below). “It is also essential that you continue replacing fluids after exercising.”
    3. What is the weather like?
    Okay, so this isn’t just a question of whether you’ve managed to bare your legs for the summer or are still encased in a pair of tights. The environment that you commute and work in also factors into how much water you should be drinking.
    ‘Hot, humid weather and heated indoor air, can make you sweat, leaving you dehydrated and in need of fluid,’ says Fairclough. ‘Plus, altitudes greater than 8,200 feet (2,500 metres) may trigger increased urination and more rapid breathing, which use up more of your fluid reserves.’
    One to note, if you’ve any adventure holidays in the pipeline.
    4. How are you feeling?
    If you’ve been experiencing illness such as a fever, vomiting and diarrhoea, or conditions, including bladder infections and urinary tract stones, you should be upping your fluid intake to compensate.
    “In some cases, your doctor may recommend oral rehydration solutions such as Rehidrat or Powerade,” says Fairclough. Note that a number of health conditions can impair water excretion: heart failure and some types of kidney, liver and adrenal diseases may require that you limit your fluid intake.
    5. Are you pregnant or breastfeeding?
    “The Institute of Medicine recommends that pregnant women drink about 10 cups (2.3 litres) of fluids daily and women who breast-feed consume about 13 cups (3.1 litres) of fluids a day,” notes Fairclough. Did you know that the water content of the foetus is estimated to be 75-90%?
    Why? Well, water is needed to form amniotic fluid (it is estimated a woman carries from 0.5-two litres during pregnancy), support the increase in blood plasma volume and to produce breast milk. “Remember, that water contained in tea and coffee is not an ideal replacement when dehydrated as they are diuretics and increase your loss of water.”
     5 Ways to Increase Your Water Consumption
    According to the Natural Hydration Council, symptoms of dehydration include constipation, dark yellow urine, a dry mouth, headaches, increased thirst, lethargy and muscle tiredness.
    Research shows that water losses of just 2% can result in reduced mental performance – think brain fog.
    Fairclough shares his top tips for keeping your fluid intake up:
    *Hot or warm water from the kettle is often easier to drink than water straight from the fridge, when the weather is cold.
    *Start the day with a glass of water to flush the body of toxins built up overnight.
    *Aim to have most of you water intake away from meals, as drinking a lot of water close to a meal may dilute digestive acids and enzymes, inhibiting digestion. However, having a glass of water one hour before a meal may help to increase the enzymes and acids.
    *Like tap, sparkling water contains no calories or sugar and, according to the Natural Hydration Council, when consumed in moderation, does not negatively impact dental health, bone density or weight.
    *Naturally flavour your water with slices of lime, lemon, strawberry, ginger or herbs such as mint.
    FYI: Remember that overhydrating can lead to health problems.
    The Natural Hydration Council warns of hyponatremia, which, although rare, can reduce blood salt levels and cause excess fluid to move from the blood into tissue cells, including those of the brain. Space your water evenly throughout the day. Everything in moderation, as they say.
    The article Once And For All: How Much Water Do I Have To Drink Each Day? was first published on Women’s Health US.

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    How To Adapt Your Fitness and Nutrition For Every Age

    30s: The decade to… optimise your prime
    So your face has a few more lines, your hairline some silver intruders and your list of responsibilities… let’s not go there. But arm yourself with some essential skills and you’ll enjoy your best decade yet.
    Support your fertility
    If you’re looking to start a family now or later, there are practical steps you can take. Here, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Larisa Corda and nutritional therapist Melanie Brown walk you through the essentials.
    Mind your movement
    “Sitting down all day can reduce blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, so stand up as much as possible,” says Brown. Be careful about overexercising, too. “Exercising too intensely for too long can increase levels of cortisol in the body, which can be a barrier to conceiving.”
    Mitigate stress
    “This is essential if you’re looking to get pregnant,” says Dr Corda. Plot out your stressors on a page, then note the things you can’t control (an unwell parent, for example), the things you can take steps to address (long working hours) and the things you can fix without much hassle (too many plans).
    Reach your body’s happy weight
    “If you’re overweight or obese, take sustainable steps to reach a healthy weight,” advises Brown. “If you’re underweight, increasing your body fat will signal to your brain that your body can support a pregnancy.”
    Eat for balance
    “It’s important to consume enough complex carbs,” notes Brown, who points to research indicating that they promote ovulation. “You need good fats for fertilisation, and quality protein provides the building blocks to eggs.”
    Panic stations
    As the responsibilities start to bite in your thirties, you’re more vulnerable than ever to anxiety-based mental health problems, such as panic attacks. Use our expert-backed timeline to dial down the intensity.
    0 to 3 mins 
    What’s happening: A panic attack occurs when the mind makes a negative interpretation of normal events. When your boss sets you an impossible deadline, for example, your hypothalamus activates your pituitary and adrenal glands, causing stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol to flood into your system: the fight-or-flight response. The result? Shallow breaths, an accelerated heart rate and trembling.
    Your defence: A US study found that refocusing the mind on simple tasks can calm you down. The solution can be as mundane as counting the number of tiles on your office ceiling until the panic passes.
    3 mins to 2 hours
    What’s happening: Adrenaline has a half-life of three minutes, so the initial panic soon passes – your breathing normalises and your heart rate falls. Cortisol, however, sticks around for longer. It can take two hours for your more chronic feelings of stress to subside.
    Your defence: Take a 10-minute break and divert your attention to what’s around you, even if it’s just your neighbour taking the bins out. Your cortisol levels will fall and you can return to a more even keel. Ahhh…
    1 week 
    What’s happening: Anxiety can easily extend beyond a specific stimulus and its chronic form can leave your hypothalamus in a state of constant agitation. It’ll keep releasing adrenaline and cortisol and, with levels set to surge at any point, the simplest upset can burst the dam.
    Your defence: In severe cases, doctors may prescribe you anti-anxiety medication, along with beta blockers, to steady your heart rate. Omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish can curb adrenal activation caused by stress and there are cortisol-slashing B vitamins in legumes, meat and eggs. Plus, a run produces mood-boosting endorphins while using up extra adrenaline.
    Nutrient to know: healthy fats
    Found in olive oil, avocado, nuts, mackerel and anchovies, they’re hallmarks of the Mediterranean diet, which studies suggest can reduce your risk of heart disease. That shoots up in your forties, so take pre-emptive steps now. Doubts remain about the effectiveness of supps, so stick to natural sources. More