Pomegranate & Mint RefreshmentEasy ways to stay hydrated (over the summer)

High temperatures reinforce the symptoms associated with dehydration: fatigue, dry mouth and skin, dizziness, headaches, etc. To avoid the harmful effects that drain your energy levels, nutrition experts recommend that men should drink 3 litres and women 2.2 litres of water a day. Here are a few hints that can help you develop a healthy routine to stay hydrated.

If you tend to forget to drink water, create visual reminders or set timers on your phone to go off throughout the day. You might also want to put a large glass of water, e.g. on your work desk or, if you’re on the go, carry a reusable water bottle with you. Setting yourself a goal on how many glasses or bottles of water you wish to drink during the day will make it easier for you to get all the benefits of being properly hydrated.

Feeling hungry, craving a snack or about to have a meal? Drink a glass of water! It will not only help you to drink enough fluids, it’s also likely to reduce your hunger and make you eat less. Additionally, opt for raw fruit and vegetables that have a high content of water and are nutritious at the same time, such as watermelon or grapefruit as well as celery and spinach.

If plain water feels boring to you, add some lemon or cucumber slices or ginger. Alternatively, create your own, personalized ice cubes. These small additions will flavour your drink without adding any sugar to it. Homemade ice teas - herbal or fruit infusion that have been refrigerated to chill - are a refreshing way to make hydration more exciting for your palate.

Published July 26, 2016

Voidomatis River, GreeceBeauty beyond thought

Office jobs mean that we typically spend most of our time indoors. Chances are, that if you happen to sit in a cubicle or remote from a window offering a glimpse of greenery or sunlight, you might not benefit from any proximity to nature all day. This obviously stands in sharp contrast to our ancestral environment and original, outdoor ‘’workspace’’. Hence, and since our initial biological rules still apply, it should come as no surprise that we’re still longing for the natural environment we have moved away from.

In order to prevent the so-called ‘’nature deficit disorder’’, international studies suggest that we should regularly leave our urban environment to spend time on outdoor activities. Connecting with nature helps us to de-stress, reenergise and reconnect with ourselves, whether consciously or even unconsciously. Mountain wilderness or forests naturally capture our attention by e.g. turning hiking into a walking meditation, helping us fight chronic stress, anxiety or even depression. Hence, the therapeutic value of spending time in nature should not be underestimated.

Always take into consideration your fitness level and previous injuries when it comes to choosing distances as well as the degree of physical effort implied, and start at a low pace. However, and if necessary, give yourself a push when it comes to your mental barriers. Once you’re on your way, you’ll be able to fully comprehend what John Muir, the legendary naturalist, meant by saying: ’’Beauty beyond thought everywhere, beneath, above, made and being made forever.”

Published June 8, 2016

Slowing down and getting ahead

Our everyday busy lives have led us to do several things at the same time; be it in the office, on our way to get there or even at home. Although multitasking makes us feel we’re being more productive, switching back and forth between tasks is less effective then we think it is. Instead of saving us time, working on different endeavours at the same time is likely to take longer than working on them separately.

The mindset plays a key role: if we truly want to be more effective, we should group tasks and then work on them batch by batch, without getting interrupted. Research shows that the brain can handle well two tasks at a time, e.g. working on a document and answering the phone. Add a third task, e.g. replying to emails, and the risk of making mistakes increases dramatically, which can have costly side-effects.

Besides many other harmful aspects, feeling that you constantly need to shift between activities is likely to stress you out and feed anxiety while creating a so-called ‘inattentional blindness’ - although you might be seeing things happening in front of you, your brain doesn’t register them. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

In order to have a clear vision for success, we need to be intellectually and emotionally available, hence being in the present moment. Being more focused, overcoming negative personal and professional multitasking habits will help us be more productive and achieve better results while decreasing our stress levels.

Published May 12, 2016

London Hyde ParkLet’s go outside!

Exposure to sunlight increases the brain’s release of the serotonin hormone, which is associated with boosting people’s mood and helping us feel more calm and focused. Simultaneously, vitamin D is mainly absorbed through the ultraviolet rays over our skin and transports calcium into our blood in order to build strong bones. A chronic lack of vitamin D can e.g. lead to osteoporosis.

Hence, getting enough exposure to sunlight is not only important for our bone health, it can also help fight depression. Depending on how far you live from the Equator and the hours of sunlight you’re getting, you might be more prone to lacking vitamin D. While other vitamins can be easily absorbed through our food, Vitamin D can be found only in small doses e.g. in fatty fish, like salmon, trout, mackerel or in avocados or egg yolks.

Spending time outside without covering your face, hands and arms and without using sunscreen - up to 20 minutes a day during the sunny months - should fill your reserves for winter. If the weather allows for it, leave your desk during lunch and, instead of going to a cafeteria or a restaurant, take a walk outside or enjoy an outdoor picnic. Getting back to work after a refreshing break might as well help you being more productive during the afternoon.

Published April 14, 2016

Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte PerdidoGoing up a hill and coming down a mountain

As the snow starts to melt at the bottom of the mountains, you can find hiking trails that look like an invitation to follow their path. Unlike many other things in life, hiking trails have been laid out before you to help you get towards the top. Here’s why you should not to resist the call:

Disconnecting from your daily routine and enjoying the stillness will help you to quiet the mind. By taking the time to slow down and witness the unbroken natural scenery that elevates and expands the soul, you will literally be able to see things from a new perspective.

Should you get tired along the way, keep in mind that it’s important to persevere to reach your designated spot, so keep going! Once you get there, enjoy the scenic views and celebrate your physical, mental and emotional achievement.

If you feel like marking your passage through the area, add a stone to the cairns you find at the top or along the trail. Remember that all those who have contributed to the stone sculptures have, at some stage, shared the privilege to walk that same path.

As Edmund Hillary rightfully claimed: ‘‘It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.’’

Published March 30, 2016

Woman using bicing Barcelona lowresThe joys and benefits of pedalling to work

They say cycling is a fountain of youth that makes its enthusiasts feel younger, getting them more years out of their muscles, joints and even organs. Whether people commute to work by bike because they want to live healthfully or because of any other reason - recent figures show that more and more people use the bike as an alternative to driving or taking public transport.

In cities like Barcelona, Paris and Stockholm, bicycle sharing systems have been in place for several years and enable commuters to get to their destination in a convenient way. In the UK and Ireland, the Cycle to Work scheme, a tax incentive, aims to promote healthier journeys to work and reduce environmental pollution.

Cycling to work is a popular option: it’s affordable, it reduces car and fuel expenses, it helps to avoid traffic jams and parking problems and it’s climate-friendly. Instead of using public transportation, cycling lets you decide on the time you leave and avoids you standing in a cramped underground carriage or bus offering little oxygen.

Besides the more economic advantages, cycling to work has many health benefits: it reduces blood pressure and stress levels, it can increase your energy and elevate your mood. In case you hold a gym membership, riding a bike might even help you kill two birds with one stone: you will burn calories while saving time to go to the gym and use the treadmill.

Published March 15, 2016

Nuts wooden background lowresBoost your brainpower during coffee break

Snacking can be a very unsatisfying experience. Did you ever wonder why the pastries your have in between business meetings leave you craving for more? The instant gratification they provide make your blood glucose level rise quickly, only to make you feel tired and irritable a little later. To boost your mood and energy levels - and take care of your nutritional needs - switch to healthier snacking options.

Here are just a few alternatives: A handful of raw, unsalted nuts such as walnuts, almonds or cashews can be a great option as they provide heart-healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Fresh fruit such as raspberries, apples or bananas are rich in hunger-quelling fibre and full of vitamins and minerals. If you prefer more savoury snacks: a cup of (naturally gluten-and cholesterol-free) Edamame beans provide you with protein, iron and calcium.

Also make sure you drink plenty of water or (unsweetened) infusions to stay hydrated. Replenishing your water supply benefits, among others, your brain function. If you don’t wish to cater for yourself, ask your employer to provide healthy snack options - energized staff are set up to perform better.

Published February 22, 2016