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Don’t sit on it for too long

| Mar 1, 2017 | Physical Wellbeing, slider | 0 comments

Don’t sit on it for too long

If your work requires for you to spend a considerable amount of time sitting down, I hope you invest the next three minutes reading this post – it can literally add years and quality to your life.

The statistics that are being published about the perils of sitting for too long are frankly quite scary. You may want to stand up for this…:

– Sitting 6+ hours per day makes you up to 40% likelier to die within 15 years than someone who sits less than 3. Even if you exercise.

– Sitting makes you gain weight. As soon as you sit down, your calorie burning drops to 1 per minute and the enzymes that help break down fat drop by 90%

– The World Health Organisation has identified physical inactivity as the fourth biggest killer on the planet, ahead of obesity.

The human body simply isn’t built to sit for long periods of time. Ever since we evolved from archaic homo sapiens to anatomically evolved modern humans more than 150,000 years ago, we were meant to be active, to spend time outdoors walking and running. Sitting for extended periods of time whether at work and/or during our commute is something mother nature hasn’t prepared us for.

When you remain inactive (or sitting down) for long periods of time, the muscles in your back are affected, particularly the erector spinae muscles which run parallel to your spine. Not maintaining proper posture whilst sitting can seriously damage your spine structure and even cause permanent problems such as back pain.

Evidence of the health benefits of standing up compared to sitting down goes back to the 1950’s when a study by one of the world’s oldest and best known peer-reviewed British general medical journal “The Lancet” compared bus conductors (who stand) with bus drivers (who don’t). The study revealed that bus conductors had around half the risk of developing heart disease of the bus drivers.

Standing is like walking: It increases energy, burns extra calories, tones muscles, ramps up your metabolism, increases blood flow and improves your posture along the way.

Recommendations:

1.- Sit smarter. When sitting on a chair, make sure you sit back and move your chair close to the desk to maintain proper contact between your back and the seat back to help support and maintain the natural inward curve of your lumbar spine. So remember to always sit up straight without hunching over and use ergonomic chairs or furniture when possible.

2.- Try sitting on a stability ball. Also known as Pilates balls, the use of a stability ball (a big, round piece of exercise equipment used for strength training) to replace regular chairs is becoming increasingly popular. The key here is to alternate between the ball and an ergonomically designed chair since you need every so often to reduce disc pressure in your back.

3.- Get a sit-stand desktop. There are now plenty of products in the market which allow you to easily convert a tabletop into a height-adjustable standing desk. This option allows you to sit or stand to work at anytime.

4.-Don’t eat at your desk.– Having lunch at your desk will unnecessarily prolong the time you remain sitting down. Your brain needs this time of the day to physically recharge anyway and eating at your desk means this much needed rest will not happen given that your mind will most likely be actively engaged doing work, reading the news, etc. Your performance, memory, concentration and most of your brain’s executive functions will be affected if you don’t disconnect from work for a little while, so do your lower back and brain a favour and have a mindful lunch somewhere else.

5.- Give walking or standing meetings a try. Since alternating between sitting, standing and walking is the best you can do for your body-mind, then use meetings as an opportunity to get up to either stand or walk. The benefits of walking meetings are numerous : Your attention span will expand, your energy levels will go up, your creative juices will flow freely and you’ll even get the extra benefit of burning more calories. I take most of my calls standing up and my conversations benefit from this without a shadow of a doubt.

And perhaps the most compelling argument of this post to get you to stand more: Data published by BuzzFeed showed that selfies taken while standing get more “Likes” than those taken while sitting!

What you need to know about Coffee

| Feb 16, 2017 | Physical Wellbeing, slider | 0 comments

What you need to know about Coffee

If you drink coffee and are wondering whether it’s good for you or not, science has an answer for you.

It depends…

Your psychophysiological profile is unique. How your body and your mind will respond to stimuli whether in the form of a beverage (like coffee) or an experience (like a rollercoaster ride) depends on the uniqueness of your psychology and biology in combination.

I am not a coffee drinker, but many years ago, my boss used to start our morning meetings with a trip to the cafeteria to get a cup of coffee. After many weeks of declining her offer to buy me a cup, there was this one instance in which, to avoid the awkwardness, I accepted a cup of decaffeinated coffee (which still contains caffeine by the way).

I remember becoming so wired that for a few hours, I kept involuntarily tapping my desk with my fingers as if I was sending a message in morse code. I found that reaction so foreign to me.

During that episode, my Cuban friends in Miami came to mind. Some of them are able to drink later in the evening a Café Cubano or Cafecito, a small but potent dose of Cuban coffee served in a thimble-sized cup which you down like a shot. After drinking this Cafecito, which in terms of caffeine content it makes a double espresso look like Evian water, they sleep like logs. How is that even possible?!

It all comes down to how your unique genetic configuration metabolises caffeine. So this is what you need to know about coffee:

The positives of drinking coffee

There are now plenty of studies that show how coffee can boost metabolism, improve memory and mood, decrease our chances of type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer and can also improve our sports performance.

Some people even use it for weight loss or to treat asthma, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and low blood pressure.

The negatives of drinking coffee

On the other hand, caffeine has been known to exacerbate anxiety disorders, heart conditions, high blood pressure, insomnia, stress, irritable bowel syndrome and weak bones (caffeine can increase the amount of calcium that is flushed out in the urine).

If you are suffering from adrenal fatigue, a condition common in people who are under mental, emotional, or physical stress, coffee is definitely not advised as it will accentuate the symptoms which include trouble getting out of bed, chronic tiredness and trouble thinking clearly or finishing tasks.

Coffee can also become highly addictive and, for most people, it serves as a substance to suppress appetite or as an “energy” source to either feel motivated or even function.

Should I drink coffee or not?

If you drink coffee in moderate amounts (one or two cups a day) for the simple pleasure of it and don’t use coffee as a stimulant to get you going, most studies agree that there are no major health risks.

If you have been dependent on coffee to fuel your day for years, rest assured that you can enjoy even greater levels of energy without caffeine. You will have access to cleaner and more powerful energy sources once you drop the caffeine addiction, a topic which I will cover in a future post.

Recommendations

Don’t use a coffee as an energy source. Be completely frank and honest with yourself. Are you drinking coffee to enjoy the unique aroma of those Peruvian dark beans or just to get you through your next meeting?

Limit your consumption to 1 or 2 cups a day. Most studies show that having 4 cups of coffee a day is not considered hazardous to your health, but in my experience, people that drink more than 2 cups a day fall in the category of “drinking coffee for fuel”.

Believe that there is “energy” at the end of the tunnel. Some people that rely on caffeine for energy have the irrational belief that they if they bring their caffeine intake to a halt, they will not have enough energy to cope with the day. On the contrary, the clean and natural energy that you will derive from healthier sources (wholefoods and natural beverages) and exercise, will take your energy levels far beyond what caffeine can do for you and without any side effects or unpleasant symptoms to bear .

Don’t quit caffeine overnight. If you make the wise choice of eliminating caffeine once and for all, don’t go cold turkey. Switch from multiple cups to just one cup and then eventually switch to herbal teas. I will write another post on how to quite coffee in the healthiest way possible shortly 🙂

Be careful who you sleep with

| Jan 30, 2017 | Physical Wellbeing, slider | 0 comments

Be careful who you sleep with

Let’s be frank : I have done it, you have done it, and most likely, a lot of people that you know still do it. Sleeping with our electronic devices is perhaps one of the most underrated health risks in modern times.

In 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that electromagnetic fields produced by mobile phones are classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as possibly carcinogenic to humans. Children are the most vulnerable given that their scalps and skulls are thinner than adults’, and are therefore more vulnerable to radiation. When I shared these findings with my teenage son, he was shocked and immediately embraced the recommendations you will find at the end of this post.

Just the potential health risks should be enough of a deterrent to keep our devices out of our bedroom, but there are other compelling reasons why we should be motivated to keep our bedroom electronics-free.

The temptation to play games, scan our inbox, chat with friends and read the news are just a few of the many activities that we can engage in if we invite our electronics to our bedroom in the evening. More often that not, giving in to these temptations will delay our bedtime which will surely shorten the duration of our sleep, leading us to suffer the characteristic symptoms of sleep deprivation: erratic decision making, low energy levels, mercurial emotional state, memory lapses, generalised feeling of stress, etc.

If you are in a relationship, spending time with your electronics in the bedroom will compromise the mindful and nurturing time you could devote to your partner. The quality of our close relationships plays a big part in our emotional, mental and physical state, so neglecting our personal interactions with loved ones for the sake of screen time will undoubtedly have an unwanted effected. Any relationship expert will tell you the poor communication and lack of intimacy are key contributors to the downfall of most relationships.

Well, enough with the somber news. Let’s move on to the simple tips that will improve your relationships, keep you healthy and set you up for a great day at work.

Recommendations

Don’t use your mobile device as an alarm clock. If you really need an alarm clock to wake up, get a dedicated alarm clock that uses a warm & gentle light and natural sound effects to get you up in the morning. Please, stay away from those incessant beeping devices that wake you up in a state of alarm and stress.

Impose a devices curfew and stick to it. First and foremost, have an open conversation with members of your household about the physical, mental and emotional perils of using electronic devices in the bedroom and then agree on a time when curfew will be observed. The imposing comes after the consensual agreement. As you know, dictatorships in civilised societies are short-lived.

Find a place outside your bedroom to put away your electronic devices. Select an official designated area in your home where all members of the household will place their devices in sleep mode or simply turned off. A designated charging station could do the trick. The adults in the house should be setting an example by always following this rule – no double standards please!

Keep a book by your bedside. Since the moment I started using this strategy, it had an immediate effect. After I put my kids to bed, most of the time I’m looking forward to reading the next section of the book currently on my nightstand. Unless of course my wife has other ideas – literature can always wait!

So please, choose wisely who you sleep with…

Smart flying: How to Beat the Jet Lag Blues

| Dec 16, 2016 | slider, Workplace Wellbeing | 0 comments

Smart flying: How to Beat the Jet Lag Blues

Do you remember the last time you flew across time zones? The fatigue, insomnia, headache, grogginess, dehydration and the daytime sleepiness that you felt… And do you remember showing up to work and realising that your mind was not as sharp, your memory was failing, you had trouble concentrating and keeping focused, decisions took longer to make, the irritability and uneasiness….sounds familiar?

It doesn’t have to be that way.

I have flown across time zones for as long as I can remember, and in the early days, the opening paragraph of this post accurately describes how I felt physically, mentally and emotionally. I thought jet lag was just an occupational hazard and that I simply had to suck it up.

How wrong was I.

This desynchronosis or flight fatigue as it is known in science, is a fairly new condition for our mind-body system to deal with. As homo sapiens, we have been walking the face of this earth for around for 200,000 years and for 99.9995 % of that time we have never put our body-mind system through this experience known as jet lag.

It wasn’t until on August 11, 1939, that the first non-stop trans-Antlantic commercial flight, a four-engine plane operated by German carrier Lufthansa, took off from Berlin and flew 25 hours across Europe and the Atlantic carrying 26 passengers on a 3,728-mile journey to Brooklyn, New York (a flight that nowadays takes a tad less than 9 hours). I can’t even begin to imagine what the passenger’s body-minds must have felt “what the heck is this!?!?”

It has been almost 80 years since that flight and science has caught up with what happens to our body-mind system when we expose it to rapid, long-distance, trans meridian travel (east to west / west to east). Science has also been able to determine how to minimise the impact of jet lag.

In order to reduce the impact of jet lag, there are a number of proven things that you can do to lessen the impact of this psycophisiological condition. I still travel across time zones quite regularly and I am ruthless in enforcing my anti-jetlag rules, which I know share with you.

Before the flight

Avoid red-eye flights all together. Fly in the afternoon if you’re headed west and in the morning if you’re travelling east.

Change your sleep routine a few days before your departure. If you’re travelling east, try going to bed an hour earlier than your usual time, and if you’re travelling west, try to go to bed an hour later; the idea is to “prime” your sleeping routine with your destination in mind.

Get enough sleep before you travel. Flying when you’re tired will make the jet lag feel worse so don’t start off your travel already sleep deprived.

Drink plenty of water. Dehydration is one of the main reasons behind our jet lag discomfort.

Bring your own healthy snacks for the flight. For example, bring almonds, walnuts, veggies with hummus, etc. with you, so that you can avoid the temptation of eating unhealthy options offered in-flight.

Engage in a silent meditation. This practice will provide physical and psychological rest to your body and mind.

During the flight

Drink plenty of water.

Rest during the flight. Take frequent short naps.

Limit your caffeine consumption – avoid drinking too many caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, tea and sodas, and avoid drinking them within a few hours of planned naps/sleep.

Avoid alcohol. It will worsen your jet lag symptoms.

Eat light meals. Avoid the salty pretzels, chips, chocolate, cookies usually served in-flight.

Avoid sugar altogether. If your blood sugar levels rise, it will give you a boost of energy when you really should be napping.

Keep active. When flying long distances, take regular walks around the cabin and stretch your arms and legs while you’re sitting down; this will also help reduce your risk of developing a potentially serious condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Change your watch to match the time of your new destination. This will help you adjust to your new time zone more quickly.

After your land

Eat and sleep at the correct times for your new time zone. Don’t go to sleep at the time you usually eat and sleep at home.

Drink plenty of water.

Get a full body massage. It will stimulate circulation and release physical and mental tension.

Do some yoga. This practice will help you bring your internal rhythms back into place.

Meditate.

Avoid napping as soon as you arrive. Staying active until the correct time to sleep at your destination will help your body adjust quicker.

Spend time outdoors. Natural daylight will help your body adjust to a new routine following most flights.

A little preparation for your transmeridian flights goes a long way. Follow these guidelines and I’m sure that your experience of traveling will be a much more pleasant one.

Drunk at Work

| Dec 6, 2016 | slider, Workplace Wellbeing | 0 comments

Drunk at Work

Have you ever showed up drunk at work? According to research, you might have without even knowing it.

It wouldn’t be hard for me to believe if you were to tell me that their have been nights in which things were so busy at work that you were only able to get 6 hours of sleep (or less). Your lack of sleep, however, might have been praised by your management and lauded by your teammates for your exemplary commitment to the job, client and/or project.

In my line of work, I have come across many companies in which burning the midnight oil is regarded as a badge of honour. Cultures that praise their employees for sacrificing their sleep and overall wellbeing for the good of the company, which creates a type of worker that comes forward with statements like “You can count on me, no matter what!”

Several extensive scientific studies, like the one published in the Occupational and Environmental Medicine journal, have stated that even moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments equivalent to those of alcohol intoxication.

A few nights of getting only 6 hours of sleep and your cognitive impairment will be equivalent to you having a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .05% (legally drunk in may countries). Additional nights were you are only getting 6 hours (or less) of sleep, will raise that equivalent to a BAC of .1% – legally drunk in almost every country around the world.

Other studies like the one published in the National Library of Medicine, showed that if you only get six hours of sleep per night for two weeks in a row, your performance drop-off will equate to someone who has gone 24 hours without sleep and will manifest the following side-effects:

– Difficulty concentrating
– Falling asleep at inappropriate times throughout the day
– Losing your temper (at work and at home)
– Failing to recall information
– Behaving inappropriately (at work and at home)

So coming to work after having slept less than 7 hours (even though you might think that you can still cope with your work day), is basically like showing up to work drunk without the smell of alcohol on your breath.

Sacrificing your sleep doesn’t look that sexy now, doesn’t it?

Recommendations

A company culture is not some external entity that governs and dictates what you should value and how you should behave. A company culture is the sum of individual’s beliefs and behaviours, so if you would like to bring a healthy influence to your organisation and help it raise its game, follow the these recommendations:

1) Have the courage to say NO. If a client, manager or colleague has grown accustomed to assigning you work on a regular basis that contributes to your sleep depravation (frequent last minute requests, exaggerated demands, etc.), explain to him/her the quality that you could bring to your work together if you take proper care of your body & mind.

2) Be a role model. Once you decide to adopt healthy practices, let everyone around you know what you are doing, how your choices are making you feel, and the impact your new habits are having in your performance at work and the quality of you personal life.

3) Challenge unhealthy practices. If you notice that your colleagues are engaging in unhealthy habits for the sake of their work, don’t judge them. Simply help them to raise their awareness about the impact of their choices with questions like : How are these behaviours making you feel? How are your choices impacting the quality of your work? How long do you think will you be able to sustain this way of working? How proud are the people you care for of your present lifestyle and work style choices?

Remember what Gandhi once said “Be the change you wish to see in the world”

You are out of your Mind

| Oct 22, 2016 | blog-en, Mental Wellbeing, slider | 0 comments

You are out of your Mind

Last night I had the pleasure to visit the historical Royal Institution of Great Britain to attend a lecture by Dr. Daniel Siegel, a Harvard Medical Doctor who is now a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine. The topic: The Human Mind – New Insights from Neuroscience.

The Royal Institution was founded in 1799 by leading British scientists of the age in an effort to build an organisation devoted to scientific education and research. I was sitting in the same space were in 1856, Michael Faraday postulated to the scientific community this “crazy” idea of harnessing the power of invisible electromagnetic fields for use in technology. (more…)

Skipping breakfast – Is it actually worth it?

| Sep 7, 2016 | Physical Wellbeing, slider | 0 comments

Skipping breakfast – Is it actually worth it?

Some of us wake up, look at the clock and realise that although it would be nice to sit down to have a healthy, mindful breakfast, the morning rush simply doesn’t allow it. A cup of coffee, a piece of bland, dry toast and out the door. Others simply pick up something on the way to work or skip breakfast altogether. Is breakfast such an important meal after all? Can’t we make up for skipping breakfast during our other meals?

The answer I’m afraid is not that straightforward. Are you skipping breakfast because you haven’t got the time, because you are simply not hungry or because you want to lose weight? Let’s take a look at what the latest research has revealed in connection to what has been labelled in the past as “the most important meal of the day”.

For growing children, there is no doubt breakfast is an essential meal. For adults, the jury is still out.

Having a healthy breakfast has a number of health benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, those who regularly eat a healthy and mindful breakfast enjoy brain-boosting powers, enhanced immune system, heart health, improved skin, stabilised energy levels, reduced risk of eating disorders, weight control, and longevity.

In the case of short-term fasting, some researchers suggest that fasting diets that involve taking no food between dinner and lunch the next day brings benefits to the digestive system (allowing time to flush away unwanted toxins), potentially help with weight loss and cholesterol levels. Not all researchers, however, are convinced that short-term fasting benefits outweigh its risks across the board.

Skipping breakfast has been consistently associated with triggering increased hyperglycaemia (an excess of sugar in the bloodstream). Other research shows that if you experience stress when fasting (given the fact that fasting is a potentially stressful state for the body) prolonging the fast by not eating when you wake up, amplifies the stress and may lead to heart disease and other serious health conditions typically associated to stress.

Given that there are positive and negative implications to skipping breakfast, my suggestion to you is to always pay attention to how you feel both in the short-term and the long-term whenever you are making adjustments to your eating habits or strategies. Also, have the following recommendations in mind:

Recommendations

1.-Listen to your body’s hunger cues. Bring awareness to your eating decision-making process. On a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being famished and 10 being completely sated), for optimal mind-body performance, it’s probably wise to eat when your appetite reaches 2 or 3 and stop eating when you get to 7. This rule applies not only to breakfast, but to all meals in general.

2.-Keep it light. If you do decide to have breakfast and want to avoid energy drops in the morning, make a conscientious effort to limit your intake of sugar, fat and excess calories. A veggie or fruit juice/smoothie, oatmeal (porridge), dairy, wholewheat toast, nuts and eggs are options you could consider if you want to feel naturally alert and sharp.

3.-Keep it conscious. If you do decide to skip breakfast once in a while to test the potential benefits of short-period fasting, be aware of how you feel throughout the day. If you feel like ransacking a vending machine mid-morning to satisfy your hunger, you can kiss your productive day and weight management objectives goodbye.

4.- Don’t fool yourself. If you are skipping breakfast simply because you haven’t got the time (even though you are hungry), then the stress factor will kick-in, leading you to perhaps become exasperating and marring your decision making abilities due to your discomfort and irritable state of mind.

5.-Ask for supervision. If you want to take this fasting business seriously and for prolonged periods of time, make sure you consult with expert nutritionists and medical doctors before you embark on these experiments.

Workplace Wellbeing : Getting Results

| Aug 26, 2016 | slider, Workplace Wellbeing | 0 comments

Workplace Wellbeing : Getting Results

In meetings that I’ve held with great leaders across a number of different industries, something has become very clear to me. Investing in the wellbeing of their employees is a priority for them. They understand that performance and results can be significantly optimised if their employees are physically, mentally and emotionally fit. (more…)

What is the ideal bedtime for you?

| Aug 2, 2016 | Physical Wellbeing, slider | 0 comments

What is the ideal bedtime for you?

“I believe you are being dogmatic”, I was told by a lady in the audience during one of my wellbeing workshops in reference to the advise I was giving as to what is the ideal bedtime for adults. This comment came as no surprise to me since I am quite accustomed to experience pushback when I share the science that supports the recommendation of going to bed around 10pm. (more…)

Why you make the decisions the way you do

| May 3, 2016 | slider, Workplace Wellbeing | 0 comments

Why you make the decisions the way you do

Whether we like to acknowledge it or not, the influence of emotions in our decision making process is far greater than most people would care to admit. Regardless of how analytical we think we may be, the latest neuroscience research is confirming how our emotions are designed to appraise, summarise and inform most of our actions. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to develop and sustain a strong and resilient emotional foundation that will allow us to make great decisions in our personal or professional lives. (more…)

 César Gamio - Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist - CesarGamio.com
 César Gamio - Executive Life Coach - EMCC-EIA - CesarGamio.com
 César Gamio - Chopra Center Certified Instructor - CesarGamio.com
César Gamio - Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist - CesarGamio.com César Gamio - Executive Life Coach - EMCC-EIA - CesarGamio.com
César Gamio - Chopra Center Certified Instructor - CesarGamio.com