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Easily Outraged? Cop this…

Easily Outraged? Cop this…

We live in the age of the easily-offended. Where our outrage and anger is set on a hair-trigger. Social media has given us a platform to rant and rave. It is the 21st century soap-box. But is it worth it?

What is the cost of being so quick to offend and outrage?

In the moments during and following the social media red-mist the following takes place within your body:

–The hypothalamus ramps ups and signals the pituitary gland to get to work.

— The pituitary gland releases hormones to the adrenal medulla.

— Adrenal medulla releases cortisol.

— Cortisol promotes muscle contracture; pupil dilation; suppression of GI tract (digestion); increases heart rate; amygdala becomes hyper-aroused which can lead to emotional tagging in the hippocampus (sets you up to repeat this response in the future).

— Prefrontal cortex becomes inhibited (this is where present-time awareness, planning, motivation, decision making etc happens).

Not a good picture really. What basically happens is the outrage primes our system for a physical response (flight or fight) which tapping on a keyboard can’t satisfy.

And because of the tagging in the brain, we can become pre-programmed to be the angry bear-trap in other areas of life. The person cutting you off in traffic now deserves to die a painful death. The kids playing up in the backseat leads to an explosion of rage. The coffee shop gives you a flat-white instead of a latte- AARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!

So again, is it worth it?

Being quick to offense is grossly damaging to so many of your systems inside your body- as well as relationships around you. So next time you feel compelled to respond to a trivial Facebook post with an angry tirade, consider your own health. Maybe just take a few deep, calming breaths. Run around the block (flight)- or punch a pillow a couple of times (fight).

Let the anger go, because it isn’t worth it.
*Thank you to my colleague James Smith for keeping me on track with the neuroanatomy/physiology/biology!

Getting the black dog moving: The effects of physical activity on mental health

dogDid you know over 3 million Australian’s reported having a mental health or behavioral condition. That’s nearly 14% of the country! That’s absolutely staggering considering that figure only includes those currently diagnosed. In reality, if you personally haven’t experienced a mental health disorder such as depression, there is no doubt that someone in your circle of friends has.

Spending time with a close friend, it is easy to see that depression doesn’t just affect your mood. It involves decreased feelings of self-worth and motivation levels for extended periods. My friend explained that the really debilitating factor is it sucks your ability to find even the simplest of pleasures in the world and everyday tasks become so much harder to finish. Add to that, depression physically affects how your body functions.  Changes in brain function, hormone levels and neurotransmitter actions can have serious implications on internal stress levels, appetite and sleep patterns. It really does affect your whole world and like the dark metaphor, the black dog lurks in the shadows, waiting to rear its ugly head.

At the moment commonly prescribed treatments for depression involve medications and behavioral therapies, but could we add physical activity to this list?

Current evidence has shown that getting the muscles moving and blood pumping has a moderate to large antidepressant effect (and don’t forget the other health benefits). Importantly, it plays a holistic role in preventing, treating and minimising risk of reoccurring episodes both acutely and long term. Interestingly, both aerobic and resistance training lead to natural neurochemical alterations. By acutely regulating hormones such as epinephrine and cortisol, exercise can decrease the stress levels. It also stimulates the neurotransmitter serotonin, which positively changes mood, pain levels and appetite perception. I could go into a raft of other structural changes within the brain, but let’s leave that for another day.

But what I think exercise is fantastic for is promoting feelings of well-being and self-efficacy. Learning to move your body, becoming stronger and fitter can give an individual the confidence in their own ability to exert control over their motivation and behaviours. This is something that depression can take away from you. So start moving your limbs in an effort to get the black dog off your back and running out of your life.

 

Diabetes In A Can

The prevalence of ‘energy drinks‘ being sold nowadays is a massive concern to me. Even more concerning is the young demographic being targeted with such products.

Bright colours, crazy names, giant sized cans and marketing links to extreme activities create corporate appeal to these products. They have infiltrated service stations, supermarkets, clubs, bars and offices, with the promise of delivering a fast burst of extreme energy and outstanding performance.

Among the many ingredients found in energy drinks, there are two key elements that I want to focus on. (more…)

Motivational Harness #2 – Internal World Vs. External World

Each waking day there is a battle between our internal physiology and our external environment. In the modern western format, the advantage often lies with the external. Many of us who walk into an office (of varying description) experience the pressure of a tight schedule to fulfill where the expectation of a work-day is grafted around constant output.

I’m going to indulge my AFL bias, and suggest that if our work day were a football game, the match report might go something like this:

Heading into opposition territory, bottom placed Internal Physiology were always going to have a tough day up against ladder leader External Conditions. With the roof closed on External Environment Arena, the home side took early ascendancy with Caffeine and Email goaling in the opening minutes. Ringing Mobile was busy around the packs and provided further scoreboard pressure while Caffeine asserted dominance up forward slamming through a second goal before quarter time. (more…)

The Ugly Side of Running

Running is not for everyone!

I was recently on a running track alongside a busy highway when I received a spray of abuse from a passenger in a car. It’s not  the first time it has happened – actually it’s surprisingly common. Obviously it didn’t hurt me, and I suppose it comes out of the joy within an action that bears no consequence. Whatever. I don’t really get it…but it leaves me thinking every time. In a twisted way it motivates me. I start to think about how I would respond if the abuser actually had the gaul to do it NOT from a car driving 80kph in the opposite direction to me!

So, with tongue slightly in cheek – and without wanting to be labelled an internet tough guy – I leave my response to destiny  in the hands of cyberspace.

Here’s why you’re better off undertaking some physical activity than riding shotgun in a passenger vehicle:

 

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