MEDTECH: Minimize Anxiety With Meditation Apps
Americans are stressed out. Majorly. Approximately 18% of adults in the US suffer from some sort of anxiety disorder, including generalized anxiety, phobias, and PTSD, but only about one third of those adults seek treatment. With studies suggesting that anxiety leads to increased risk of developing heart disease, that alarming statistic needs to change.
Recent research points to mediation as a useful tool to reduce anxiety. Mindfulness mediation was singled out as being particularly beneficial in the reduction of stress, anxiety, depression, and pain. As a low cost, low risk means to decrease anxiety, meditation is a good place to start if you are experiencing typical symptoms like restlessness, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating, trembling, trouble concentrating, gastrointestinal issues, and/or incessant worry.
Unfortunately, starting a meditation practice is easier said than done. Sitting still and focusing on your breath can be harder than it sounds. Luckily there are many apps and internet resources that help teach mediation. All you need is a smart phone, tablet, or computer; a comfortable place to sit; and ten minutes to yourself. Here are some of my favorite picks to learn meditation:
- Headspace: “A gym membership for the mind.” A smart phone app that offers guided mediation sessions starting at ten minutes. The first set of general guided meditations are free; additional meditation packs are available for paying subscribers with topics like sleep, depression, relationships, and more.
- Stop, Breathe, & Think: This app guides you to “check-in” with your feelings, then offers a personalized mediation session based on your current emotions.
- UCLA’s MARC: UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center offers free mindfulness meditation on their website. The Center is devoted to studying meditation and it’s impact on wellness.
I have found having a mediation app on my phone helps me to start my day with intention. Taking ten minutes in the morning to work through a short meditation session helps me start the day relaxed and reminds me of what’s really important in my life. I’ve even used the apps on the train during my commute to work. Download one today to get started on your journey to better health!
Year-round Skincare Tips (including thermal water!)
Life on the west coast includes an array of climate conditions, from dry heat, humidity, and chilly winters. These temperature fluctuations and the ever changing moisture in the air can wreak havoc on our skin. Here are my tips to keep skin glowing no matter the season.
- Keep your skin moisturized from the inside out by drinking more water, at least 8-10 cups a day (64-80 ounces or 2-2.5 liters).
- Always moisturize with a facial lotion containing SPF 30+. It doesn’t matter if you live in an overcast city or bright sunny beach town, SPF is non-negotiable skin product. If you are prone to acne breakouts, avoid oil based lotions (creams) and stick with lightweight oil-free products (gels).
- Exfoliate once or twice a week. The best (and cheapest) exfoliators are homemade sugar/salt scrubs. You can tailor the mix to fit your skin type. Try soft brown sugar and avocado oil for sensitive skin or rough black lava sea salt and coconut oil for the deepest exfoliation. Feel free to add fruit or veggies to the mix to increase moisture (pineapple) or soothe and calm (cucumber). These work wonders on chapped lips too!
- Thermal (also known as micellar) water sprays are considered a staple for Asian and European skin care routines. Thermal/micellar water is naturally occurring mineral-enriched water found in hot springs. Minerals in the water (chloride, hydrogen carbonate, sulfate, carbon dioxide, iron, and sulfur to name a few) may improve skin conditions and have other health benefits.
- Diet, exercise, and stress exposure affects our skin, too. We know that stress increase the production of cortisol which in turn causes inflammation that can affect our skin (acne breakouts, dryness, redness, premature aging). So relax, eat healthy, and exercise often!
I am a firm believer that prevention is an investment worth making. Skin is the largest organ in the body and deserves your attention. It’s never too early or too late to develop healthy habits–these tips are for all ages!
If these basic skincare tips aren’t working, consult your primary care provider or dermatologist. Some people might benefit from prescription medications or cosmetic treatments.