PT 360 - March 2020

Getting you back to the life you want to live.

360

M arch 2020

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A nd a one , and a two , and JUMP!

WHY THE MILITARY JUST GOT MORE MINDFUL

Shelly Coffman

Sitting here on the verge of spring and the dreaded daylight saving time switch, I am compelled to think about a few things. First, I am reminded how I detest the time change. Waking up an hour earlier to a suddenly “new”seemingly arbitrary time is a dreaded situation. Every. Year. It has only gotten worse in caring for a small human. I am resentful of the industrious scientist starting this whole nonsense so he could get some more work done with his bugs (for real — a 1895 New Zealand entomologist). Every daylight saving time, I think longingly of Hawaii and their steady time state, even Arizona (although I’d never survive a summer there). As humans, we are strongly driven by our circadian rhythm. All of our cells —brain cells, heart cells, digestive cells —have a circadian rhythm. Getting readjusted can be relatively quick, or relatively slow, depending on the type of cell. Adjusting the cells is akin to adjusting all the clocks in a clock shop— it can take weeks to get all of them set to the same time. It’s not so bad for the first few to be adjusted, but it can be a while to get the last ones up to speed. This brings me to my second thought: As much as I hate being pushed to doing something I am not a fan of, there is some value in being launched, particularly if it is toward something. We all have things we want but are maybe afraid of, or overwhelmed by, the amount of work it will take, or the time commitment, or even the large change it will affect. In thinking about these things, we often drag our feet on getting started. As much as we might want “the thing,“we also don’t want the other challenges, so that reluctance puts the brakes on any action.

A few years ago, I saw a TED talk by Mel Robbins on the five-second rule. It resonated with me. A lot. It is easy to have lots of great ideas. It is hard to take actionable steps, particularly if you spend a lot of time thinking about the ideas. Day to day, we function in a place that is primarily habit driven, meaning, we don’t have to think a whole lot. Our brains are comfortable there. New ideas and new actions make us feel out of control, neurologically. So, by taking action before our brains have talked us out of it (within five seconds), we generate momentum. And when we generate momentum, we have moved—we make progress. When there is progress, now there is a positive feedback loop, the carrot to do it again. In creating new habits in the place of old and a positive feedback loop in the place of negative loops, a whole new neurology is born. My wish for you is that you take this spring time to“make the leap”toward something you’ve been wanting to learn, to do, to change. Don’t let that comfortable brain talk you out of it. Be out of the room before that stodgy habit brain speaks up. After a few launches, you’ll look back and wonder why you stayed there so long. The new view is so much better. –-Shelly Coffman

T he B enefits of M indfulness

These days, the termmindfulness is more likely to conjure thoughts of smartphone apps than rooms wafting with nag-champa. Business guru Tim Ferris and journalist Dan Rather profess an almost cult- like devotion to the practice, and multinationals like Goldman Sachs, Google, and Bank of America all offer mindfulness training to their employees. Recently, another large organization has jumped on the bandwagon: the United States military. So, what’s all the fuss about? For years, mindfulness devotees professed that cultivating it as a practice could alleviate the symptoms of everything from high blood pressure to anxiety. Historically though, critics were dismissive, claiming studies on mindfulness weren’t rigorous enough because they didn’t include a placebo. Unlike participants in traditional studies, where half the group believes they are being treated but are only taking the equivalent of a sugar pill, participants in meditation studies usually know whether or not they are meditating. One researcher changed that in 2016. Neuroscientist Dr. Amishi Jha conducted a study where students at the University of Miami were split into two groups and then put through a series of cognitive tests. One

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did significantly worse on the tests later in the term. Stress had eroded their cognitive function. The group of students who received mindfulness training, however, became more accurate and focused. Jha’s findings suggest that not only is meditation a way to improve performance, but it is also a way to inoculate yourself against the effects of stressful situations. Dr. Jha continued to study the effects of mindfulness, and in 2019 she published a second study that examined its effects on a different group: soldiers in a special operations unit. This time, Dr. Jha found that not only were soldiers trained in mindfulness better able to discern important information in a chaotic environment, but they also saw gains in their working memory. Thanks in part to Dr. Jha’s research, mindfulness is edging its way into the United States military. Army infantry soldiers in Hawaii began using mindfulness this winter, for example, to improve their shooting skills and reduce the risk of civilian harm. The idea is that by strengthening working memory through mindfulness, soldiers will be less likely to make impulsive decisions. Large organizations have the resources to carefully vet the training and benefits they provide to their employees, and on the topic of mindfulness, Google, Bank of America, and the U.S. military all agree: Mindfulness works. If you’re looking for improved cognition and focus, you need to look no further than your own breath, an instructional app on your smartphone, and one hour of practice a week.

group received mindfulness training and practiced it for a combined one hour a week, over a period of nine weeks. The other group of students received instruction about escaping worries and fake stress relief strategies. Evidence already supports that stressful environments reduce cognitive function and memory, and during the course of the study, all the students experienced an increase in external stressors — midterms and finals. When Jha retested the students at the end of the study, she found that the control group of students, when retested,

W ellness and W hiskers 3 W ays to W ork O ut W ith Y our P et

around the trail, your pet will be begging to go again. And how can you say no to that face? Plus, this idea isn’t just for dogs. You can find leashes and harnesses for cats, lizards, ferrets, and other pets that love to get fresh air.

Creating a healthy lifestyle is often easier with support, but if you’re struggling to find someone to join you on your path to wellness, then look to your furry friends instead. Read on for some ways to get active with

Going for a Swim

your pet, and learn more about their wellness and health at PetMD.com.

If you have a dog that appears to be more fish than canine, swimming might be the workout for you! Swimming is a joint-friendly cardiovascular exercise that works your entire body. If you’re not one for a dip in the pool, then kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding are great for your arms and core. Meanwhile, your pet can enjoy a relaxing ride or an exciting game of fetch. Just be sure to secure your pet with a life jacket before you and your four-legged friend splash away! If you want a good full-body workout while entertaining your pet, then consider including them in traditional exercises. Entertain your pup with a game of fetch and drop down for a burpee every time it runs away. Balance your bird on your shoulder while you squat and lunge. Mentally and physically stimulate your cat by dragging a string around your body during Russian twists. With a little creativity and a few of your pet’s favorite things, both of you can work up a sweat. Keeping It Traditional

Racking Up the Miles

A simple way to get moving with your pet is to go for a walk. If you’re looking for a

bigger challenge, then try running, biking, or hiking with your pet. Anything

beyond a walk may require extra obedience training or equipment — like a specialty tool that prevents your pet from colliding with your bike — but after a few loops

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As spring kicks off, many people will be tempted to grab a Monster, Red Bull, or Rockstar to get through the day. Energy drinks may give you a quick boost, but the high levels of caffeine and sugar can lead to migraines and increased anxiety. If over-consumed, these drinks can even lead to Type 2 diabetes. To avoid these health hazards, try out a few of these natural energy boosters instead. Ashwagandha Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub foundmostly in India. As part of the Ayurveda system, an alternative medicine practice from India, it’s also known as“Indian ginseng.”The Alternative Medicine Review published a study indicating ashwagandha increases the body’s resilience to physical andmental stress by lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol by 28%. Ashwagandha can also help you through long workouts and the 9-to-5 grind because it may also improve brain function, includingmemory. You can get ashwagandha in pill form at most convenience stores around the world. Creatine Many people don’t realize creatine is a natural energy booster because they get it mostly in processed, high-sugar energy drinks. However, in doses less than 5 grams, creatine provides impressive benefits during high-intensity activities, short-duration exercises, and sports, including football, shot put, and weightlifting. This compound is found in red meat, pork, poultry, and fish, and when consumed, it releases phosphates that give your body a quick burst of energy. Ingesting more than 5 grams, though, will leave you feeling bloated with a lot of stomach discomfort. Creatine powder can be found at most wellness stores. N eed a B oost ? N atural S upplements to I ncrease Y our E nergy

Beetroot Powder Beetroot powder is made from the roots of the beet plant and is rich in nitrate. Nitrate relaxes blood

vessels, creating increased blood

flow and oxygen delivery. This enables your body to produce energy more efficiently and maintain energy levels, making beetroot powder a great aid for endurance sports like running, soccer, and biking. In the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, a study reported that athletes could work out for 25% longer when they used beetroot powder. Fatigue didn’t set in until much later in their workout, which improved their training and performance.

This spring, say goodbye to energy drinks and get the boost you need with one of these natural energy supplements.

P esto C hicken W ith B listered T omatoes

Brighten up after a cold, dark winter with this fresh and flavorful springtime dish.

Ingredients

• 1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted • 6 tbsp spinach pesto • 2 cups cherry tomatoes • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced • 1 tsp red wine vinegar 5. Broil chicken for 2 minutes on high heat until browned. 6. In a skillet, heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. 7. Add tomatoes and cook for 6 minutes. 8. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. 9. Season tomato mixture with salt and pepper, and add red wine vinegar. 10. Serve tomatoes with broiled chicken.

• 2 1/2 tbsp olive oil, divided • 4 boneless and skinless chicken breasts, pounded to a 1-inch thickness • Salt and pepper to taste • 1/4 cup whole-wheat panko • 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese Directions 1. In a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tbsp olive oil. 2. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and add it to pan. Cook chicken for 5 minutes on each side, then remove pan from heat. 3. In a bowl, combine panko, Parmesan cheese, and butter. 4. Spread pesto over chicken and top with panko mixture.

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And a one, and a two, and JUMP! Improve Your Focus Through Mindfulness Page 1 I nside T his I ssue

Get Fit With Fido Page 2

Ditch the Energy Drinks

Pesto Chicken With Blistered Tomatoes Page 3

Meditation and Pain Relief Page 4

P ractice P ain R elief T he B enefits of M editation

Anecdotal evidence regarding meditation’s ability to reduce pain has existed for as long as the practice itself. However, modern technology has given researchers the means to accurately measure the effectiveness of this age-old tradition. The Department of Health and Human Services has cited MRI brain scans as proof that meditation can lead to moderate pain reduction. These scans revealed that the same areas of the brain stimulated by painkillers are activated when the mind is in a meditative state. This supports the accounts of those who have reported better functionality after meditative sessions. With the ongoing tragedy of the opioid crisis, there is a dire need for pain management strategies that are noninvasive and not habit-forming, such as physical therapy. Meditation is easily accessible and can be

Meditation has different meanings for different people. Traditionally, the act of focusing one’s mind has been used in religious and spiritual practices around the globe. More recently, it’s become a popular method of relaxation. Now, new research shows that this ancient practice may have yet another benefit: pain management. In 2008, the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey found that over 100 million adults in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain due to conditions like arthritis and debilitating injuries. Because of this, care providers have become focused on finding ways to help patients manage these persistent aches. The sensation of pain is caused by a complex interaction of biological and cognitive factors, leading scientists to study how mental exercises like meditation can aid in pain relief.

used in conjunction with other pain relief strategies. Whether you sign up for guided meditation sessions, download one of the many mindfulness apps on the market today, or simply make time to sit and clear your mind for 30 minutes, it’s easy to add meditation to your normal routine.

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