Valentine’s Day is a special day for anyone in love but the happiness of the day may be tarnished a little if you can’t be with that special someone on that day. If you’re in a long-distance relationship, or can’t be with the person you love for Valentine’s, we share some tips on how to make the day a little easier for you.
Sustaining Long-Distance Relationships
There are real challenges for long-distance relationships. You may be worried about how the lack of physical and emotional closeness will affect you both. This could lead to anxiety, and not trusting one other.
Even with the advances in technology, there is an unpredictability of not knowing when you will be able to speak to each other because of connectivity issues, time-zones, or conflicting schedules.
When you don’t succeed in finding time to speak, partners may take silence as a sign of waning interest, and when you do eventually manage to call, your partner might be frustrated and critical, which is usually masking an anxiety about being rejected. This lack of positive interaction may discourage you from calling home anytime soon. The situation becomes harder because couples do not have the chance to compensate for these difficult interactions with physical and emotional closeness.
This can be the source of frustration and cause arguments, as well as can contribute towards someone considering terminating a relationship.
However, some couples do successfully navigate long-distance relationships. Although they may face the stigma that they are not so close, this is a misconception. Long-distance relationships can show the same or more levels of trust than couples in conventional relationships. Partners tend to idolize each other. This could be because, when together, partners make an effort for the sake of their significant other. They are more tolerant towards each other because they know that their time together is limited.
Discuss your expectations.
How often do you wish to communicate, and will it be possible? Knowing you might not be available whenever they want to talk will help your partner be more accepting of the situation. Otherwise, they may interpret your silence as a sign of your disinterest.
Consider how will you handle decisions that both partners need to be involved in. For example, you might suggest that big decisions are postponed until you are together, but if this cannot be done, you may request that your partner writes you an email with the relevant information, and that you then discuss it verbally. This gives you time to think about things, as well as to have the information in a clear manner, without worrying about misunderstanding them when you speak over the phone.
When you’re apart
Send them an unexpected message or letter. It could be a photo of your surroundings, a message at a time of day they don’t expect you to do so. Remind them of a favourite memory of yours together. This is a simple and non-time consuming thing to do, yet it can show your partner that they are still important to you.
Organise a surprise through a friend. For example, ask the friend to arrange to meet them, to take them to a place your partner loves, keeping the place a secret until they arrive. When they arrive, your friend announces that it was your idea because you wanted to treat them.
Create shared rituals. Having rituals together makes people feel that they are a priority for their partner, because it prevents partners from taking each other for granted. If it becomes a habit, you are more likely to do it, and make an effort to do the shared activity with your partner. This creates a daily moment of connection with your partner. For example, at the end of each day, send each other a text with three things you are grateful for. This act not only helps prevent a low mood, but also allows your partner to share the positive of the day and it can become a moment of connection.
For when you’re next together
Coordinate time off, and plan ahead for special occasions where you may want to be present and plan your leave accordingly. Make sure to communicate in advance about what your expectations are, and for how much time you wish to spend together or apart while you are together.
Even without going into the history of the relation of Valentine’s Day and chocolates, it’s easy to understand why chocolate is the favorite way to express love on the Valentine’s Day. There is an allure to chocolate that in essence is exotically romantic, it’s simply an edible declaration of love that makes the recipients of chocolate feel special and undeniably gratifying. The chocolate looks, feels, and tastes heavenly. This luscious substance not only melts in our mouth in a burst of flavors but also melts our hearts in bliss. What about its health benefits?
Research has shown that chocolate, especially dark chocolate of which the concentration of the cocoa powder is higher can be beneficial to our health.
Here are three health and nutrition benefits of cocoa powder.
- Increases heart health:
The antioxidants in dark chocolate have been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of clotting and increase blood circulation to the heart, thus lowering the risks of stroke, coronary heart disease and death from heart disease.
- Balances the immune system:
Flavonols prevent the immune system from going into overdrive and reduce oxidative stress, which is an imbalance caused by cells fighting against free radicals and a common cause of many diseases.
- Improves brain function:
Flavonols in dark chocolate have a positive impact on brain function, including better reaction time, visual-spatial awareness and stronger memory. Though research is ongoing, one reason for this may be that flavonols increase blood flow to the brain.
- Reduces stress:
People who ate dark chocolate reported that they felt less stressed, and researchers confirmed that after eating dark chocolate, there were reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This may be related to dark chocolate’s effects on heart health, since stress is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Let’s cook together a healthier chocloate avocado mousse
- 2 large ripe avocados peeled and stoned.
- 3–4 tbsp runny honey, to taste.
- 1 tsp vanilla extract.
- 50g raw cacao powder.
- Put the avocados into a food processor and blend until smooth.
- Add 3 tablespoons of the honey with the vanilla and cacao powder and blend again until completely combined. Taste and add more honey if necessary.
- Spoon the mousse into 8 shots glasses and put them into the fridge for an hour before serving.
How to measure honey
Nutrition per serving
Because honey is so sticky, it can be difficult to measure it accurately – so much can be left behind on the spoon! If, however, you coat the measuring spoon with a thin layer of flavourless oil like groundnut, it will slip right off, ensuring that the right amount of honey makes it into your cooking.
Calories: 128kcal, Protein 3g, Carbs 17g, Fat 8g
It may seem that the number of people diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder has increased dramatically over the past few years. You may think that ADHD (as it is more frequently referred to), is simply the label given to children who cannot sit still in class. However, as research in the field of neurodivergence progresses, we are beginning to understand how ADHD manifests in adults.
You may be wondering if it is worth investigating at this stage in your life if you have ADHD. You’ve finished school, you’re in stable employment and on the surface of it, you don’t seem to have any difficulties. So why should you get tested? Getting tested and diagnosed with ADHD is more than just about having extra help at school. Typically, people who were tested were people who are predominantly hyperactive, however, there are other symptoms of ADHD.
ADHD is now considered to be a clinical difficulty with executive functioning. Executive functioning is the group of skills that allow you to organize thoughts and activities, prioritize what to do, manage time efficiently, and make decisions. Difficulties in these domains manifest as difficulties keeping your desk organized, scheduling your diary well, regulating your emotions, and sticking to a task. For someone with these difficulties, it is hard to keep track of eveyrthing you have to do, and what steps you need to take to complete a task.
All of us experience ADHD symptoms, forgetting where we left our phone or glasses, overbooking our schedule and realising too late that we have to be in two places at once. Does this mean you have ADHD? No. The frequency of how often you do these things, and they extent to which they have a negative impact on your life will determine if you fit the diagnostic criteria.
Being forgetful makes the everyday tasks and routine overwhelming. The problem is compounded by the fact that people around you may be resentful of the consequences that the diagnosis has on their life. Essentially, we have to acknowledge that living with someone with ADHD has real-life implications. In fact, ADHD coaches and experts report that the hardest part about living with ADHD is the judgement and shame and resentment, rather than the symptoms themselves. Remember that it’s not your fault or your choice, to have ADHD. However, this doesn’t mean you don’t have any control over the situation. You do have a choice to work with the diagnosis.
Learning if you have the diagnosis has several benefits. Firstly, it helps you understand your past experiences, and reconsider all the labels you gave yourself. Looking back, you may see that people thought you were lazy or stupid, but you knew that you were trying your best to achieve, only to find stumbling blocks. You may have felt unable to sit still long enough to focus on the material in front of you. Showing yourself some empathy helps with improving your motivation, prevents depression, and makes you more understanding of others too.
The next benefit, is that you can now recognise what your difficulties are, and how you can build strategies to address them. For example, you’ll know that you’re at high risk of losing your attention quickly, so you should avoid scheduling back to back meetings. You can take more frequent breaks. If you know that you’re also more at risk of getting agitated, you’ll start to recognise what triggers you, and learn about what situations to avoid. For example, if you know that people shouting is something that makes you lose your temper, you might want to share this with your loved ones, so that they can try to modify their behaviour.
Recognize Unhealthy Strategies
All of us resort to doing things we know we shouldn’t, because in the long-term they have consequences, but short-term, they provide comfort, or relieve stress. The classic example of course, is using sugar, or smoking, or drinking. People with ADHD are more likely to have to turn to external ways of calming themselves, because of the brain’s difficulty in regulating emotions. They are therefore more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviours, and subsequently, have to address the consequences of those behaviours, over and above ADHD symptoms. Therefore, it is crucial to you recognise what behaviours you may be in engaging in, and finding alternatives, and what pushes you to depend on these behaviours in the first place. Avoiding your triggers ensures that you will have less need to turn to the behaviour.
Once you recognise these behaviours, ask yourself, what purpose does this serve? When I reach for a drink, is it because I want to calm down? What can I do instead to ease my nerves? If you feel you can’t do without the behaviour, set yourself the challenge to delay the behaviour. Start small. Can you wait five minutes before reaching for the cigarette? If that’s doable, set yourself a bigger challenge, each time making the delay longer. There will be days where you might not be able to wait, and on other days
Set a Routine
Humans are by default, creatures of habit. We need predictibility, so that our brain can learn how to be more efficient on doing a task, rather than predicting what is going to happen next. Without having to use our resources on trying to figure out what comes next, we can divert our attention to other tasks. This in effect, is a way of channeling our mental capacity towards more demanding tasks.
Incorporate the following measures into your routine:
Start with Alone-Time – If you live with a family, set your alarm clock 15 minutes before everyone else, to start your day undistracted.
Schedule 15 minutes of “Screw-up” time. This is time in the day when you can catch up on something if things don’t go according to plan. This could be traffic, or someone keeping you waiting, or an unexpected phone call. Don’t plan your day with everything back to back, without the space and flexibility to accommodate for things going wrong.
Plan as much of your day and week as you can. This helps you avoid having to make last-minute decisions, and then trying to achieve them. For example, make a meal plan for the week, set out your clothes for the next day rather than waiting until the morning, and risk running late because you can’t find the right thing to wear. Constantly having to make decisions can be overwhelming and tiring.
Addressing Attention Difficulties
To compensate for attention difficulties, use reminders that are effective. Having a daily email reminder that you will ignore is useless. On the other hand, having a loud alarm that sets off at a time when you are able to complete a task is more likely to remind you of what you need to do, and you are more likely to complete the task.
Recognize if you are a visual or auditory learner. Do you learn new things by seeing them written down? Do you need to write things down yourself? Do you prefer the use of pictures? Do you need to be moving in order to be able to concentrate? It may not be possible for you to physically get up and move whilst you are listening to instructions, so you could try using something that allows you to incorporate movement discretely, for example, using a fidget spinner, playing with a pen, or if permissible, having a standing desk if you are in an office environment.
Do not spend too long on one task. Give yourself a time-limit, then take a break and move on to another task. You can revert back to the first task later on in the day. This gives you the chance to redirect your focus, without getting bored on any single task.
Engage in activities that require both concentration and coordination. This improves your working memory, and your ability to control impulses. If you have time for a yoga class, that’s great, but if you want something simpler and less time-demanding, you can practice walking on a straight line, whilst balancing something in your non-dominant hand. You can spend as little as two minutes on this simple exercise, it’s free, and it has long-term benefits, as well as the immediate advantage of helping you calm down if you are feeling agitated.
If you feel you need further support, speak to a psychologist or doctor about your concerns.
Mindful eating stems from the broader philosophy of mindfulness, a widespread, centuries-old practice used in many religions. Mindfulness is an intentional focus on one’s thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations in the present moment. Mindfulness targets becoming more aware of, rather than reacting to, one’s situation and choices.
Eating mindfully means that you are using all your physical and emotional senses to experience and enjoy the food choices you make.
Mindful eating helps individuals to appreciate food more and make a better connection with it. Some studies also suggested that mindful eating might help support emotional eating and binge eating, promoting a healthier relationship with food, regulate appetite, aid digestion, and make eating an enjoyable and pleasurable experience.
Mindful eating isn’t about restricting yourself, it is about enjoying and appreciating food.
- Slow down when eating: Chew your food well and take time to pause while you’re eating by putting your cutlery
down between each mouthful. It may help you feel more relaxed and help you enjoy your eating experience. Slowing eating can allow your body to recognise when it is full.
- Avoid distractions: Avoid eating while you’re on your laptop, phone, reading or watching TV so that you can relax and enjoy your food in the moment.
- Reflect on your thoughts and feelings: Recognise when you are eating for reasons other than physical hunger. Sometimes emotions can trigger hunger and have a negative eating experience.
- Plan and stick to regular mealtimes: A meal planner helps to eliminate the stress around grocery shopping and meal preparation. Also, consider eating at regular times throughout the day. This helps to regulate your levels of hunger which could impact positively on your eating behaviours and food choices.
- Enjoy each mouthful: Food is more than just fuel. Take time to enjoy the aromas, the texture, and the flavours of your meal.
- Avoid empty calories: Choose nutritious foods that are satisfying to you, give you energy and are nourishing to your body.
- Avoid labelling foods: There aren’t ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods, all can be part of a healthy diet if, we aim for variety and do not exceed our portion sizes.
Adopting healthier and better habits related to mental, physical, and social wellebing is shown to have a positive impact to an individual’s’ mood.
Moreover, individuals who choose to track their happiness status are more likely to be motivated to keep up with the habit and to improve their happiness because of it.
Download the OCS August Calendar and colour your days.
Bloating is very common and can be caused after consuming certain foods and drinks, or by swallowing air when we eat. It can also be a result of digestion issues like constipation, food intolerance, coeliac disease, and irritable bowel syndrome.
The good news is that we can avoid or ease bloating and relevant symptoms by changing certain eating and lifestyle habits.
- Not eating too much at a time as being too full can make your tummy feel uncomfortable.
- Chewing your food more. This can make it easier for you to break down food and make it go through your body more easily. Chewing more means you don’t swallow so much air. Also, it makes you eat more slower which can stop you from eating too much in one go.
- Eating 5-6 smaller meals/ snacks per day, so you don’t get too full at any one time.
- Try not to miss any meals or eat late at night.
- Eating less fat. Fatty foods can take longer to go through your body and means your stomach is full for longer, and this can cause bloating. Ways to have less fat include:
- eating less fried or creamy foods.
- taking fat that you can see off meat before you cook it.
- grill or oven bake foods rather than frying them.
- Hot drinks can help food to go through your body more easily, but drinks such as too much coffee can make bloating and stomach problems worse. Try to only have 2-3 cups a day of drinks with caffeine in them. Instead try mint or fruit teas or decaffeinated tea and coffees.
- Cutting down on what alcohol you have as this can also make stomach problems worse.
- Certain foods can make you have more wind (gas). If this wind stays in your stomach (and it doesn’t pass through your body and come out as wind) it can make you feel uncomfortable and bloated. There are some foods which might give you more wind, so try to cut down on foods such as:
- beans and pulses;
- vegetables such as brussels sprouts, cauliflower, garlic, onions, cabbage, leeks, mushrooms;
- fruit such as apples, cherries;
- some artificial sweeteners such as xylitol, sorbitol and mannitol which are commonly added to sugar-free products like fruit squashes, mints or chewing gum. If you cut down these foods, but it doesn’t help your bloating, you can start eating them again.
- Eating more soluble fibre. You could eat more oats or oat bran (such as oat-based breakfast cereal or porridge) or try adding linseeds or flaxseeds (starting with ½ tablespoon a day and building to 1 tablespoon twice a day as required). Make sure you drink an additional 200ml water with each tablespoon of seeds that you add so that you don’t get constipated.
- Add pro and prebiotics to your diet plan
- Foods rich in Probiotics: yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, miso, kombucha, pickles, traditional buttermilk, natto, some types of cheese
- Foods rich in Prebiotics:
- In some people, stress slows down how food goes through your body, which can cause bloating, pain and constipation or it can cause an upset stomach and diarrhoea. Stress can make you not feel like eating, or it can make you gulp air. It can be difficult to avoid all stress but having ways to help you manage the stress can be useful. For example, when you are tense, practise slow breathing or mindfulness exercises. If you are feeling very anxious, stressed, or unhappy then it may help to try and calm yourself before eating. Try to keep mealtimes happy and relaxed and put off any difficult conversations until after a meal.
- Wear clothes that are not too tight around your waist, as these can increase the pressure on your stomach and make it harder for wind to pass along normally.
- Having a warm bath, and spend time soaking, and relaxing. The heat of the bath can help a sore tummy. Doing this and finding other ways to relax can help you feel less stressed, and this helps your stomach.
- Consider counselling to talk about the things that you are finding difficult or stressful. There may be things about your critical illness that you are upset about and need support with.
- Exercise and massage.
Physical health that depends to our diet, exercise, and sleep, are closely related and affected by our mental health wellbeing.
Each May that is observed as the Mental Health Awareness Month, is an opportunity to refocus on self-care, improve our relationships with others, adopt healthier eating and exercise habits, improve our sleep hygiene and seek for professional support if need.
Take the first step and Download our Mental Health Calendar – May 2023 to find 31 ways to a Healthier You.
If you’re visiting the Hellenic Maritime Forum and are intrigued by what OneCare Solutions can do for the mental health and well-being of your crew, do reach out to Managing Director Marinos Kokkinis at our booth!
One of the most effective ways to improve our well-being status is by changing our eating habits as nutrition has a significant effect on our physical and mental well-being.
There are many diet models for an individual to choose from, the decision however, should be taken considering current health status and goals aim to achieve with the guidance and supervision of a registered nutritionist.
Despite the type of diet, you will choose to follow, switching to sustainable eating habits is essential as what we eat, and how that food is produced, affects our health and the environment.
- More than one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity can be attributed to the way we produce, process, and package food.
- 19 percent of global food system greenhouse gas emissions are caused by transportation. This is up to seven times higher than previously estimated, and far exceeds the transport emissions of other commodities.
In 2018 Joseph Poore and Thomas Nemecek published their results from the largest meta-analysis study on global food systems using data from more than 38,000 commercial farms in 119 countries.
Figure #1 helps us to understand from which supply chain stages and the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced from different food items.
This extends from land use changes on the left, through to transport and packaging on the right.
The most important finding from this study is the massive differences in the GHG emissions of different foods.
- a kilogram of beef emits 60 kilograms of greenhouse gases (CO2-equivalents) while peas emit only 1 kilogram per kg.
Overall, animal-based foods tend to have a higher footprint than plant-based (Figure 2). Lamb and cheese both emit more than 20 kilograms of CO2-equivalents per kilogram. Poultry and pork have lower footprints but are still higher than most plant-based foods, at 6 and 7 kg CO2-equivalents, respectively. For most foods – and particularly the largest emitters – most GHG emissions result from land use change (shown in green), and from processes at the farm stage (brown). Combined, land use and farm-stage emissions account for more than 80% of the footprint for most foods.
Tips to a sustainable diet:
- Reduce meat and have some meat-free days every week.
A healthy balanced diet plan recommends reducing red meat, and now there’s another reason to treat it more as a condiment than a main dish. Meat production is a substantial contributor to greenhouse gas emissions – beef production especially – and the environmental burden deepens, as raising and transporting livestock also requires more food, water, land, and energy than plants.
To eat for our own health as well as that of the planet, we should consider picking non-meat proteins such as nuts and legumes.
- Eat more plant foods.
Vegetables, grains, lentils, and fruits are part of an optimal diet while aiding the planet to heal faster.
Plant-based eating reduces freshwater withdrawals and deforestation —a win-win for both our personal health and the environment.
- Cut down your food waste.
When you throw away food, you’re also wasting the energy, land, water, and fertilizer that was used to produce, package, and transport it.
- Buy only what you need.
- Store food wisely.
- Understand food expiration dates.
- Use leftovers.
- Try local and seasonal food items.
Foods that are in season and are from local markets have very low food-related emissions.
- EU Seasonal Food Directory: https://www.eufic.org/en/explore-seasonal-fruit-and-vegetables-in-europe
- US Seasonal Food Directory: https://www.seasonalfoodguide.org/
- Australian Seasonal Food Directory: http://seasonalfoodguide.com/
- Eat mindfully.
One of the simplest things you can do to eat more sustainably is to practice mindful eating.
Focusing on what you’re eating allows you to reflect on where your food came from and how it is nourishing your body. Additionally, by tuning in to your hunger signals you may learn that you don’t need as much food as you thought and resize your meals accordingly.
By paying more attention to how we eat and thinking about all the factors related to each of our meals, we may alter our food consumption to only what our body needs avoiding extra calories and reducing food waste, as well as becoming encouraged to seek out more sustainable food sources.
- Mengyu Li, Nanfei Jia, Manfred Lenzen, Arunima Malik, Liyuan Wei, Yutong Jin, David Raubenheimer. Global food-miles account for nearly 20% of total food-systems emissions. Nature Food, 2022; DOI: 10.1038/s43016-022-00531-w.
- Poore, J., & Nemecek, T. (2018). Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers. Note: Greenhouse gases are weighted by their global warming potential value (GWP100). GWP100 measures the relative warming impact of one molecule of greenhouse gas, relative to carbon dioxide, over 100 years. OurWorldInData.org/environmental-impacts-of-food.
- Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser (2022) – “Environmental Impacts of Food Production”.
Published online at OurWorldInData.org. Retrieved from: https://ourworldindata.org/environmental-impacts-of-food
- British Dietetic Association (2022) How to start a sustainable diet.