Category Archives: exercise mental health

The myth of multitasking

In an unprecedented gaffe that saw one winner swapped for another at the recent Oscar awards, the question was obviously on everyone’s mind. How could that happen? It seems  a classic case of multitasking gone wrong.

According to a report in the New York Times the person responsible for handing the envelopes with the winner to presenters Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty had posted a tweet while sorting the envelopes during the show.

We see it constantly around us: People on their smart phones while attending important meetings or supposedly conversing with others around the table and at the same time answering whatsapp messages. Believe me. There is no such thing as multitasking.

We are fast losing our ability to concentrate on the magic of the moment by falling prey to a constant bombardment of distractions. Most of the recent neoroscience research concludes there is no such thing as multitasking – that is the brain’s ability to do several things at the same time with the same amount of concentration.

Losing Brain Function

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While multitasking we make mistakes, lose energy, get stressed and are less productive. The brain focuses on things sequentially and is unable to do two things at once. It must disengage from one activity in order to engage in another. And it takes several tenths of a second for the brain to make that switch.

Multitasking is not holding the hands on the wheel of a car and concentrating on the road at the same time. We can breathe and talk but when it comes to paying attention we can only concentrate fully on one thing at a time which is why accident research shows that a person using a cell phone and driving at the same time, takes up to a second longer to slam on the brakes.

Mindfulness training is concentrating on one thing at a time and also concentrating fully on the person we are engaged with instead of checking emails at the same time. Above all its downright rude. You are missing out on life and telling that person. My emails are more important than you are!

Reino Gevers – Mentor for Leaders and Achievers – Your Health Matters

http://www.reinogevers.com

Get my free E-Booklet “Resilience: What makes us strong”.

 

 

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Filed under corporate health, exercise mental health, lifestyle management, multitasking, Uncategorized, work environment

Stress: A curse or a blessing?

We hear it all the time: People complaining that they are stressed out, attributing all sorts of health problems to stress. It’s a myth. Stress is not the problem – lack of rejuvenation is.

Stress hormones flooding our system are crucial to our survival instincts. Let’s just go back thousands of years to our ancestral past. Uma the hunter is out in the jungle following the tracks of an antelope that he hopes to bring home to his clan living in a cave nearby.

Then a huge tiger blocks his path. Uma freezes. Within a split second the hypothalamus in the brain   sends a message to the adrenal glands on the kidneys that instantly floods the body with the stress hormone adrenaline.

mentoring8.jpg

Adrenaline binds to receptors on the heart, arteries, pancreas, liver, muscles and fatty tissue. In effect adrenaline increases heart rate and respiration, and by binding to receptors on the pancreas, liver, muscles and fatty tissue, it inhibits the production of insulin and stimulates the synthesis of sugar and fat, which the body can use as extra energy.

Uma needs to decide for his own survival: Do I head for the nearest tree or fight the tiger?

Stress hormones enable us to focus all our energies and mental capacities to that one task that needs to be addressed. Whether the threat is real or imagined the body reaction is the same. Singers or speakers know this body reaction as stage fright, moments prior to their act. But when it comes to the actual show, they deliver a starring performance with nobody in the audience having had an inkling of what the performer went through.

Adrenaline and other stress hormones start becoming a problem when the imagined threat is more or less a permanent condition. The constant pressure on arteries weakens the heart muscle eventually leading to heart failure or a heart attack. It can also impair the brain’s memory function and weaken the kidneys. Vital nutrients are extracted from the body to feed the constant adrenaline rush, eventually leading to chronic fatigue or even skeletal problems.

Our stressful modern lives have us more or less constantly facing the tiger. After Uma frightens away the tiger with his spear, he even manages to bring home the antelope for dinner. All the hormones fall back to normal after he has had sumptuous meal and the clan has celebrated him as a hero around the fire.

Stress becomes a problem where there is no longer a balance between activity and recuperation. Even in so-called recuperation periods we often tend to go for strenuous exercise routines that don’t really bring down our stress hormone levels.  So what calms the mind and body most effectively?

Exercises that synchronize body and mind very effectively are those that calm your breathing and relax the entire muscular system from within. A daily meditation of between five and ten minutes is a good way to start. All the body arts such as yoga, qi gong or taiji have an enormously positive effect on the immune system. Even a gentle walk in the park where you concentrate on mindful breathing will bring down your stress levels.

Reino Gevers – Mentor for Leaders and Achievers – Your Health Matters

http://www.reinogevers.com

Get my free E-Booklet “Resilience: What makes us strong”.

 

 

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How old can we really get?

Life expectancy in most countries has increased dramatically over the past century. But the statistics reveal little about the quality of life at an old age. Yet, we could live much longer and happier lives by adopting positive lifestyle habits.

Extreme longevity with people over the age of 100 has increased steadily over the past decades, attributed mainly to vast improvements on  infectious diseases, sanitation, clean water and food.

An average of three months is being added to life expectancy every year and there are predictions estimating there could be a million centenarians across the world by 2030.

oldperson

Recent studies  however show that genetics make up only 25 per cent when it comes to longevity. The other 75 per cent are attributed to lifestyle habits. Some researchers even argue that its quite possible for the human being to live a healthy life of over 120 years and beyond if we eat the right foods and keep our body fit with exercise.

We have made huge strides on environmental issues like clean water and food. Modern medicine can also extend lives, especially relating to cardiovascular disease.  But we are sadly lacking when it comes to the other equation: The average person in the western world spends four hours a day sitting motionless before an electronic device and is overweight because of lack of exercise and eating junk foods. Modern diseases like diabetes, cancer and alzheimer are rapidly one the rise.

Our bodies are filled with toxins or byproducts from mainly processed foods that interfere with the body’s metabolic processes and which our bodies are not able to break down or excrete. This is causing havoc on the cellular level, especially as we grow older, with the cells no longer able to fulfill their function in taking-up vital nutrients and detoxing.

We are living longer but what about the quality of life at a ripe old age? Many people spend the last years of their lives suffering from numerous illnesses. In Germany’s ageing population almost three million of 82 million people are in need of care. Some 14 per cent are aged between 75-84 years and 66 per cent 89 years and older. It means that most of the older people in Germany are dependent on external help. The social system is already under strain. What is it going to be like in 10, 15 or even 20 years time? And we are talking about one of the world’s wealthiest countries.

The good news is that the body is a remarkable system. Moderate and regular physical exercise can greatly improve the life of even an 80-year-old, strengthening muscles, bones and body balance. Regular exercise also has a positive influence on metabolism.

The earlier we start the better.  Research reveals that some aspects of age-related cognitive decline begin in healthy, educated adults when they are in their 20s and 30s. So, the sooner we start replacing those bad habits with good habits and keeping at it on a daily basis the better. But you will only stay motivated if you do something you truly enjoy doing and the trick is to find the right type of exercise that is good for you. That will keep you moving without having to force yourself.

Reino Gevers – Mentor for Leaders and Achievers – Your Health Matters

http://www.reinogevers.com

Get my free E-Booklet “Resilience: What makes us strong”.

 

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Fatigue and the food you eat

A topic that is largely underrated is that our western diet of mainly processed foods is probably responsible for a large number of the modern diseases like diabetes, cancer, alzheimer and dementia.

burnoutThere is a direct link between the lack of vital nutrients such as Omega 3 fatty acids and the modern office disease chronic fatigue or burnout.

It is thus so important to look at the food  ingredients you buy in the supermarket and here are the top offenders you should really try to avoid if you want to stay healthy:

  • Too much sugar is found in almost all processed foods from tomato sauce to pizza. Our palate has become used to it but it wreaks havoc in our body by robbing us of essential minerals. Alternatives to sugar are stevia and natural organic honey e.g in your tea or coffee.
  • Artificial sweeteners are often food in foods labelled as sugar free or “diet” such as yoghurts but contain aspartame and acesulfame potassium – substances suspected of causing numerous health issues from digestive problems to Alzheimer and Attention Deficit Syndrome (ADS). You will also find artificial sweeteners labelled as fructose, glucose or sucralose.
  • Trans fats or hydrogenated oils like the artificial sweeteners are basically a chemical compund. Mostly several naturally occurring oils such as palm, soya and corn are mixed and heated by several hundred degrees with other substances added to it, changing the molecular structure and making it closer to a plastic than to an oil! We find these trans fats in nearly all processed foods such as dressings, crackers, margarines and cookies.

A junk food diet or a diet consisting mainly of processed foods means that your body is using up a lot of energy and essential nutrients to fight-off these toxic substances, causing typical symptoms like fatigue, tiredness, lack of sleep and irritability. Almost all research done on healthy diets recommend fresh locally produced organic food.

TheIMG_0022  Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest you can get, typically consisting of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. Bread is eaten mostly by dipping it into healthy locally produced olive oil. Nuts such as almonds, cashews, pistachios and walnut, as well as the herbs and other essential oils provide all the nutrients the body needs. The Mediterranean diet also includes moderate drinking of wine with meals. Wine in moderation is known to reduce heart disease.

A rule of thumb when looking at any list of ingredients: If you don’t understand the “latin” on the label just drop it. Like so many things I recommend on this Blog. Dropping a bad habit and replacing it with a good habit can have an enormous impact on your health and quality of life.

Reino Gevers – Mentor for Leaders and Achievers – Your Health Matters

http://www.reinogevers.com

Get my free E-Booklet “Resilience: What makes us strong”.

 

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Major health benefits of ginger, turmeric

I’ve just had a bad bout of flu with the virus affecting a lot of people in my immediate vicinity. The immediate impulse was to take the standard medication but I remembered how my grandmother used to heal us with completetly natural substances that are being rediscovered as having huge health benefits.

The real star among them is turmeric which arguably appears to be one of the most powerful medicinal plants on the planet. It contains many healing compounds that have an anti-inflammatory effect and there are claims that it is a most effective anti-depressant.

More recently there have been reports that one of the compounds in turmeric, curcumin, is more effective than chemotherapy in treating cancer patients because of its ability to reduce tumour and the make-up of cancer cells.

In 2009, Biochemistry and Biophysical Research Communications published a study out of Auburn University that explored how supplementing with turmeric can help reverse diabetes.

turmericA combination of turmeric, ginger and lemon in a tea with honey works wonders in boosting the immune system, especially at times when the body if fighting off an infection.

I use turmeric and ginger in my chicken soup which I have for breakfast every day. The ginger is boiled with the chicken for several hours and after taking out the meat I store the broth in the refrigerator to use over the next few days. You only need to heat the soup a little and then you add a teaspoon of this magic turmeric and a pinch of black pepper which helps to bind all those vital nutrients in the body.

Be aware that not all these super plants come from healthy sources with some of them containing pesticides. Make sure that your herbs are organic and that you get your chicken from an organic farm. Its not worth the risk.

Reino Gevers – Mentor for Leaders and Achievers – Your Health Matters

http://www.reinogevers.com

 

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Kick-starting from the down cycle

licht_schattenBy Reino Gevers

What makes some people happier, more successful and healthier than others? Although research pinpoints some heriditary factors the real clue that makes those rare individuals stand out from the rest of the crowd, is how they deal with the natural up-and-down cycles of life.

The common denominator of highly successful people such as Nelson Mandela, talk show host Oprah Winfrey, businessman Richard Branson or writer  J.K. Rowling is that they all learned ways of kickstarting themselves out of terrible down cycles, that would have destroyed most other people.

The natural reaction to a major setback in life is a type of “shock-freeze paralysis.” The kick-starters however, have adopted habits of how to get out of the down cycle as soon as possible. Lets face it life is not all sunshine and glory. We have bad days and they can sure knock us out of all that we trust and believe in. The loss of a loved one, a life-threatening disease, job-loss, bankruptcy, divorce, and an unforeseen accident. Life is full of unforseen circumstances.

While we can’t control external events we sure have control of how we react to them. So how do you get out of the down-cycle? For me walking the Camino in Spain has been a test of up-and-down cycles every time, a real analogy of life. Going on a pilgrimage, or taking a complete time-out for reorientation, has for me been a major help, like leaving a dysfunctional marriage and a well-paid job that was fast pulling me into a burnout. Simply being in a completely different setting with no electronic distractions and having alone time is really important in stimulating creativity  – and more importantly – learning the lesson from the down cycle. People with a generally high energy level and thus physical and mental resilience, will also find it easier to get out of the down cycle. So if you are in a dark spot, here are some tips:

  • Get moving with physical exercise to get those happy hormones going and start boosting the body’s immune system with nutrients from power foods.
  • Find room for alone time,  prayer, meditation or any other ritual that gives you energy.
  • Meet with friends, family, or any other people that you know will lift you up with positive vibes and to strengthen your feeling that you are part of a community.
  • Create a mental picture or vision board where you want to be in six months, three years, five years.
  • Givers Gain: Are there any ways of where you can give to others in serving the community and making a positive contribution to society? It helps get you out of the rut of endless negative self-reflection.

Reino Gevers – Mentoring for Leaders and Achievers

http://www.reinogevers.com

 

 

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Where is your attention?

harmony

by Reino Gevers

When you practise the martial art of “taiji push hands” you instantly become aware when your mind is wandering elsewhere. As soon as your attention slips your opponent has easy play in finding the gap and pushing you over. Its all about:

Where your attention goes your energy goes.

In our connected world the power of distraction lurks everywhere. Our mind becomes like a butterfly constantly fluttering from one short attention span to the next. We search for something on google and suddenly a pop-up diverts our attention elsewhere and before we know it, we have spent hours surfing meaninglessly on the Internet.

Mass media is brainwashing us 24-7 with drama and catastrophes. The objective is to shock and awe. The result: more clicks, more viewers, a higher circulation and more advertising revenue. Good news is no news. I know what I’m talking about because I worked in the news industry for more than 26 years. Don’t get me wrong. Its not about sticking your head in the sand and avoiding the world’s problems. Its the dosage of negativity in relation to positivity.

Human nature has a habit of looking first on what is bad than on what is wonderful and on what we can be grateful for in our lives. If your mind is filled with thoughts on wars, riots, crime, the antics of the rich and famous and all the other shadow sides of humanity your subconscious mind will begin to confirm all this as the reality of existence. The end result is often depression and a sense of hopelessness. Moreover, negativity hurts us on the physical level, weakening our immune system and causing many of our modern day plagues such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The truth is that we live in a world of polarity – of yin and yang. For every bad event being flashed across the globe you can be sure there is another positive thing happening at the same time. Its just not receiving our attention. There is so much distraction, brainwashing and mind control from external forces that we spend less and less time in reflecting on what is happening to us. The end result is living a life behind a veil of negativity and emptyness.

You have the power! Draw your boundary on what you want inside your “room” and what needs to stay out:

  • By anchoring yourself with meditation you are extracting yourself from distraction. Meditation is a powerful tool in helping you perceive that inner voice that keeps you connected to your Soul Path.
  • As you meditate you will observe your thoughts. Are they mostly of a positive or negative nature?
  • Are the people you surround yourself with kind and compassionate? Do they exude positive vibes or are they abusing you as a refuse bucket in venting all their anger and frustration? Remember you are the sum of the people you surround yourself with.
  • How much time are you spending in nature? Are you exercising enough? Taking a walk in nature, doing yoga or taiji,  will hugely improve your mood and help you realign.
  • Are you nourishing your body and mind with healthy foods and liquids?

In training your awareness by doing the right things every day, of every week of every month and of every year you will be aligned and become immune to energy-sucking distractions.

By Reino Gevers – Health Mentor for Leaders and Achievers

http://www.reinogevers.com

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On the Way – the Camino Primitivo

Tomorrow I’m leaving for Oviedo on the Spanish west coast to start my walk on the Camino Primitivo – the oldest part of this ancient pilgrimage path. It will take me 320 kilometres through the mountains and to Santiago which I hope to reach during the first week of August.

Camino

People often ask me why its now the eighth time that I’m walking sections of the Camino which I first walked in 2006 at a time in my life when I was at the crossroads of making difficult relationship and career decisions.

From personal experience and the many interesting conversations I’ve had with fellow pilgrims on the Way, the Camino is and will remain a mystery. During the Middle Ages it was mainly a religious pilgrimage. At least one member of the family was expected to walk the Camino to repent on behalf of all the other family members.

Today the motives why people walk the Camino are different with every individual. But there are few people I know. including myself, whose lives have not been deeply affected while walking the Camino.

“This is just a hike and I certainly know nicer places. I don’t even know why I’m doing this,” a grunty man said to me on one of the walks. After many days of walking with blisters, a hurt knee and other physical afflictions, I noticed him retreating more and more into inner solitude. Its what we all learn on the Way. The Camino teaches us to be humble in more ways than one.

Part of the Camino fascination is that you meet people from all walks of life from many different nationalities and age groups. The personal motivation why people decide to walk 20-25 kilometres per day for several weeks are often deeply moving, in many cases after going through traumatic and life-changing events where answers are being sought.

I’ve walked alone, led small groups, did a longer walk with a good friend, walked with my wife. Each of those walks was rich and beautiful in its own right.

Even when you walk with a partner, a family member or a good friend, I would advise to walk sections alone. It is this alone time when the deepest experiences are made. This is about finding that inner rhythm and alignment that gets diluted in the daily rat race of information overload and the challenges of just living life. And what I find most importantly, nurturing ones own inner and authentic spirituality.

Reino Gevers – coach, trainer, author

http://www.reinogevers.com

 

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Which side are you on? Lessons from Brexit

Losing Brain Function

I have learned a lesson from all the controversy surrounding the British Brexit referendum to leave the European Union. When people have made up their mind on a highly emotionally-charged issue, there is nothing in the world that you can do to convince them to think otherwise.

When strong feelings such as national identity and perceived lack of sovereignty override any logical argument that economists, bureaucrats, mathematicians, historians or political scientists put forward, the emotional argument always wins hands down.

Every so often I fall into the same trap of participating in some social media debate, realising afterwards that it was a complete waste of my time. I will not convince someone else to change his or her opinion. Its like trying to persuade someone to give up a religious faith.

We are constantly being manipulated by  emotion. You will hardly sell a soft drink by revealing how much sugar and other toxic ingredients it contains. You call it an “energy drink” and nurture an image advertising it in the hands of handsome and beautiful sport or movie stars.   Its the image and emotion that do the trick. The cigarette industry was a master of such manipulation and so are the political demagogues.

The human mind works like this: Once a thought or an idea becomes an “emotionally charged” belief it will find examples from past experience,  the Internet, chat rooms or from whatever source available to confirm that belief. You will choose friends and associates confirming your viewpoint. That belief becomes unshakeable.  Any other information that contradicts your opinion will be censored by the mind, ignored, attacked or denied because it is perceived as a threat to self-identity.

Amazingly you will find  that many people believe the twin towers collapsed  because of explosive devices and not because of the planes that crashed into them. A significant portion believe the moon landing was a hoax. And so it goes on.  Simply dismissing these folk as a lunatic fringe is too simple. It just tells us that we all are victim to emotional reactions and responses in different forms and patterns and that we are susceptible to falling into the “belief trap” even if all the evidence tells us otherwise.

There is obviously a deep alienation between a large section of the population and what is deemed as the “establishment” – those up there making all the decisions. Or those scientists or mass media knowing all the answers. You will find few dissenters in groups and communities holding the same view because of course you want to “belong” to your tribe or group.

What makes the current situation so dangerous is that in a world of information overload – and often an overload of unsourced and misleading information – more and more people are  following “false prophets” offering simple solutions to complex problems. We seem to have forgotten how all the  “belief systems” “isms” and thin ideologies have so tragically misled humanity in the past.

ITS TIME TO WAKE UP and lift the veil behind all the delusion.

Reino Gevers – coach, author, trainer

http://www.reinogevers.com

 

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The healing power of language

Thank You Word Cloud concept background in many languages Monks and wise teachers from the times of yore knew of the power and resonance of language in formulating the first mantras and healing prayers.

Recent psychological reasearch has confirmed that there is a direct link between the use of language and health. Thus there seems to be a correlation between cardiovascular disease and the use of negative language found on Twitter accounts in the northwestern United States.

Language patterns reflecting negative social relationships, disengagement, and negative emotions—especially anger—emerged as risk factors. On the other hand positive emotions and psychological engagement emerged as protective factors.

It’s sad to observe a growing lack of mindfulness in the use of language, especially on social media sites. I have taken to blocking those people on facebook who have a habit of constantly posting “negativity”. Hate speech, gossip and xenophobia seem the norm. Extremist politicians, following their own agenda, are feeding into this shadow side of human nature, especially in countries where the issues of migrants, religious tolerance and wealth distribution are being debated with strong emotion.

Why not focus on those postings, information and images that serve  the common good, that create a positive wave and healing enerty. This too is part of our reality.

In this context I find the words of the Kalu Rinpoche (excerpt from the Dharma) particularly poignant:

“Mere words, which have no ultimate reality, can determine our happiness and suffering. We create pleasure and pain through our fundamental clinging to sound and speech.”

Ancient languages such as Sanskrit, Latin and Aramaic, the lingua franca in the Middle East during the time of Jesus, are particularly powerful. Mantras and healing prayers in these languages are known to create a strong healing vibration in the body.

In the ancient Chinese body arts of Qi Gong we have the healing sounds for each cycle of the Five Elements:

  • Tzue for the element wood (liver)
  • Haaa for the element fire (heart)
  • Huuu for the element earth (spleen and stomach)
  • Zzzzz for the elemnt metal (lungs)
  • Chuwayy for the element water (kidneys, lower back and bladder)
  • Seeee for harmonizing the central meridian

On the mindset level, the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum, has a particularly strong cleansing effect:

Om – representing the divine universal energy

Mani – the pure jewel of compassion and love

Padme – the lotus symbolizing wisdom

Hung or Hum – establishing wisdom and removing attachment to hatred.

 

Reino Gevers – coach, trainer, author

http://www.reinogevers.com

 

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