How to Cope with Stress: Learn How Pandemic Impacts Kids and Parents in Different Ways

By Tiffany Harper

There is no secret that the Coronavirus pandemic affected us all. While parents have lost their jobs or need to work from home, children have a hard time adapting to the new life format. Classes are held online; they no longer interact with their school friends or take part in group activities. Stress is a natural reaction to these hard and new times. In fact, stress appears when there are big changes in one’s life, like this one. It has effects not only on your mind or wellbeing but on your body and habits too.

Stress caused by a world pandemic will likely be felt by anyone, by parents and children alike. But the most important thing is your perspective on stress.

There are many ways you can cope with stress, but as a parent, it is important to help your children do the same.

Stress Effects

The effects of stress are quite visible, although not anyone is aware of them. Kids will have a harder time identifying them, but they might have digestive problems, headaches, throw tantrums, or have difficulties falling asleep. They do not socialize as much as they did before, and meeting your friends, playing games, and talking with them is something all kids long for.

Social support is important not only for children but for their parents too. Stress might arouse emotions of anxiety, anger, frustration, and fear. You might have a hard time focusing or making decisions, and physical symptoms such as the loss of appetite, chills, or stomachaches are present.

One of the most important things about this unpleasant and stressful situation is that children learn how to cope with stress as they grow up. They learn all these mechanisms from their parents because we all know that kids are like sponges.

So, it is important how you choose to face the current context of the world. Because this will help your kids learn healthy ways of coping, and this will be very helpful not only in this moment but later in their lives too.

Limit Your Time Watching or Reading the News

Photo by Mr Cup / Fabien Barral on Unsplash

We often think that if we gather more information about this subject, we have more power over it. But the truth is, it is a virus that spreads very quickly. All we can do is try to protect ourselves as much as we can and follow strict hygiene measures.

As stated in some reports of the lab report writer, hearing and reading all day about the coronavirus pandemic will not do any good. It will only intensify the feelings of anxiety, fear, and helplessness. And it is not only about the TV or news, but about social media too.

So, limit your time spent watching or reading the news and try to replace this habit with another one more positive. Like this, you will teach your child to try and find comfort in pleasurable activities, instead of focusing on what you cannot control.

Find Activities You Enjoy

This relaxing photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

Stress makes us often think that there is nothing pleasurable in our lives anymore. Think about your kids, too. They take their happiness and positive feelings from play with friends, games, sweets, travelling, and small things.

They are mostly deprived of interaction and socialization with friends, and even though they can do this online, face-to-face socialization is necessary for healthy cognitive development. So, it is important to find things and activities you all enjoy.

Some of them can be board games or card games to play with your kids. They will surely help you get some fun and feel good.

But you can also find other interesting activities such as watching docuseries, reading, painting, coloring or drawing. All these can be done together with your children, and so you lead by example and nurture a genuine desire to learn more about the world around us in your kids.

Also, educational games might be a great choice. Some great options could help you learn along with your child the mysteries of chemistry, physics, science, astrology, biology, and many more.

Write Your Feelings Down

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We need to admit that this period is marked by uncertainty. We do not know much about this virus, how long it will last or when it will be eradicated. Its impacts are visible: the demand for resources has gone up, while the rate of employment has gone down.

Even though kids do not completely understand the current world state, they can feel it. And they do not have the necessary equipment to face these strange times, so parents need to provide security and comfort.

You can do this by encouraging your children to write their feelings down. This is a helpful activity not only for them but for you too. So, you can do it together.

Writing your feelings down helps you put things into context. It acts as a stress relief because it helps you get rid of negative thoughts. Also, considering the uncertainty of the situation, it can help children understand that it will eventually pass. By writing down your thoughts, you can better learn how to label your emotions, become aware of them, identify their source, and work on them.

Exercise

This joyful photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash 

Kids surely miss the energy and outdoor activities they were doing at school. And this is understandable. Every type of sport leads to a release of endorphins in our brains, which makes us feel better.

Give yourself the time to exercise and keep your body healthy. Find some interesting physical games and activities you can do with your children. Exercising acts as a stress relief for parents and kids alike,
so it is a healthy stress-coping mechanism.

Conclusion

The coronavirus pandemic changed the world totally and it will never be the same. All these abrupt changes come with stress and negative feelings and emotions. Children and parents react differently to these stimuli. And while parents can be more equipped to face this stress, kids need guidance and help to understand the context we are living in now.

So, it is important to know that you lead by example and kids learn how to cope with this kind of moment from you. Limit your news intake and find interesting, funny, and educational games and activities to play with your kids. Encourage your kids to write down their thoughts to better define the context and their emotions.


Lovely featured image photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash (thank you <3)


About the author:
Tiffany Harper is a training guru who’s been working in the corporate sector as a technology expert for several years now. She is a management graduate and loves to share her experience through blogs and expert articles. For her love of writing, she provided online consultations for one of the dissertation help writers, while working with UK Best Essays. Please do not hesitate to contact her on LinkedIn.


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Health Benefits of Your Smile and How To Achieve It

By Luke Douglas

While smiling might seem like the simplest, most intuitive action we can perform, it is actually much more powerful than we might initially think. Smiling has a great impact on our physical and mental well-being, allowing us to become healthier and happier with just a single action.

For that reason, we should aim to maintain a perfect smile as best as we possibly can, and here are some ways you could achieve just that, as well as few health benefits you might enjoy as a result:

The importance of oral hygiene

It’s a well-known fact that practicing good oral hygiene is essential for achieving optimal oral health. Apart from allowing you to maintain a clean and bright smile throughout your entire life, good oral hygiene will also help to prevent common tooth and gum diseases, while ensuring your pearly whites stay strong and healthy even in old age.

However, what many of us don’t realize is that our oral health is directly related to our overall health as well. Research has shown that an unhealthy mouth could be connected to a variety of illnesses and conditions such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Evidently, a good smile is also a reflection of good health, and not merely a result of positive habits.

The health benefits of smiling

While oral hygiene might be an indicator of good health, the act of smiling itself can be quite beneficial for your mental health and overall well-being as well. Smiling can instantly lift our spirits, allow us to be more positive, help with relieving stress, make us appear more attractive, and even have a ripple effect on other people.

What’s more, smiling can also have a great impact on our overall health. Helping us to relieve pain, lower blood pressure, and even improve the immune system, smiling is evidently one of the best things we could do for our overall well-being, which is why it pays to invest in our oral hygiene and maintain a beautiful smile.

Achieving a perfectly straight smile

Photo by Freepik


Even though we might want to smile more often, whether due to the health benefits or simply in an effort to enjoy life more, some of us might feel too insecure and self-conscious about the appearance of our smile to laugh more frequently. And one of the main reasons for this occurrence is crooked, overlapping, or otherwise misaligned teeth.

Thankfully, the solution to these conditions is quite simple. In case you are suffering from such malocclusion as well, braces for adults can offer the best and most lasting results. Made to efficiently treat your specific condition without attracting any unwanted attention, cosmetic braces can be a wonderful option for misaligned teeth and jaws, as well as a number of other dental complaints.

Improving the brightness of teeth

In case stained, discolored, or otherwise imperfect teeth are what’s stopping you from smiling more frequently, modern dentistry has a great solution for improving the brightness of your smile as well. Although flossing at least once, and brushing your teeth at least twice a day can be of great help, discolored teeth might require some additional assistance.

To remove any surface stains and improve discoloration to a certain extent, whitening toothpastes and at-home teeth-whitening kits can deliver quite beneficial and noticeable results. However, if you’re looking for a way to achieve perfectly white and bright teeth, getting a professional procedure done by a dentist might be the best solution.

Deciding on cosmetic procedures

Braces and teeth whitening aren’t the only available options; there are many other cosmetic dental procedures that will allow you to achieve a perfect smile you won’t have to hide any longer. Dental bonding, for instance, is a great choice for chipped, cracked, misshapen, or discolored teeth, instantly improving your smile with a subtle and natural look.

On the other hand, if you have severely discolored, damaged, or even missing teeth, procedures such as dental crowns, veneers, and dental implants can all help to revive your smile and lead to healthier, straighter, and brighter teeth.

Evidently, smiling has a number of important health benefits, which is why you should attempt to practice it more often. In case a cosmetic or health issue is stopping you from smiling, use the tips mentioned above to achieve the perfect smile you’ll never have to hide.


Luke is a lifestyle blogger. He is editor in chief at blog Ripped.me and one of the contributors at blog Trans4Mind. He follows the trends in fitness, gym and healthy life and loves to share his knowledge through useful and informative articles.
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Ancient Chinese Remedies To Cure Common Personal Hygiene Problems

By Sally Perkins

Having good hygiene is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself against common illnesses. Taking good care of yourself also benefits your overall wellbeing, improves your social interactions, and boosts your confidence. However, a recent study has shown that most people do not adhere to basic hygiene guidelines, and 42 percent of people admit that they don't wash their hands each time they use the restroom. Moreover, while two thirds of Americans shower everyday, some people rush through the process, and aren't cleaning themselves the right way. Bad hygiene can lead to infection and discomfort, and while medication can reverse the effect of poor hygiene habits, using ancient Chinese remedies can also help to cure the following common personal hygiene problems naturally.

Bacterial vaginosis

One in three women will get bacterial vaginosis at some point in their life. While bacterial vaginosis, or BV, isn't a serious problem, it can cause a lot of discomfort, since it causes pain or itching in and outside of the vagina, a burning sensation when urinating, discharge, and a fishy odour emanating from the vagina, which seems to get stronger after sex. BV happens when there is an imbalance in the pH levels in the vaginal area, and the disrupted pH levels may be caused by various factors such as using certain condom or vaginal douche brands, having a new sex partner, or having multiple sex partners.

Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash


To improve vaginal health naturally and get rid of BV, you can use a gentle vaginal wash, eat yogurt, and cut back on sugary treats to restore your pH balance. You may also consider using traditional Chinese medicine, such as dong quai, which TCM practitioners prescribe to treat female health and reproductive problems. This plant grows in East Asia, and the roots are harvested to make tea, powders, drinks, and tablets. Just like yogurt and other fermented foods, dong quai is rich in probiotics, and it may help to restore the vagina's pH levels and alleviate discomfort. Drinking tea made from red clover flowers can also help to relieve the symptoms of BV. To make the tea, steep two and a half teaspoons of red clover flowers in three quarters of a cup of hot water for 15 minutes, and then drink the tea after meals.

Bad breath

TCM practitioners believe that bad breath may be the result of stomach problems. Moreover, eating too much spicy food and smoking is believed to cause halitosis, so TCM experts usually recommend eating milder foods to cure this hygiene problem. Consuming white fungus soup with honey is also believed to get rid of toxins that can cause bad breath. To prepare, simply cook the white fungus in plain water until it softens, stir in honey, and eat daily to get rid of bad breath.

Excessive sweating

Excessive sweating can lead to skin problems and body odor. Showering daily can keep your skin healthy and odor-free, but to address the health issue directly, you may want to consider acupuncture to reduce sweating. To treat excessive sweating or hyperhidrosis, acupuncturists insert needles in various areas of the body to alleviate armpit and palm sweating, night sweats, and sweating in other parts of the body. Since excessive sweating is believed to be a symptom of anxiety problems, TCM practitioners may also recommend taking xiao yao san, which is a blend of herbs that is used in ancient Chinese healing practices to reduce depression, pain and anxiety. It can be drunk as a tea, or taken in pill form for convenience.

Good hygiene can boost your self-confidence and protect you from a variety of illnesses. If you're currently dealing with bacterial vaginosis, bad breath, or excessive sweating, consider these ancient Chinese remedies to cure your personal hygiene problem, but remember to consult a certified TCM to get the best results.


Beautiful featured image photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash


Ancient Chinese Medicine Secrets For Younger Looking Skin

By Sally Perkins

Skin aging is a common concern among millions of people all over the world, and some people won't hesitate to spend a lot of money to keep their skin looking young. According to a survey, most people spend over 25 percent of their beauty maintenance budget on their face alone. Moreover, it was found that more women in their 30s choose to invest in anti-aging products and facial moisturizers than any other age group. Using pricey creams and serums may give your skin a youthful glow, but traditional Chinese medicine and therapies may be even better to prevent and combat wrinkles, fine lines, and other visible signs of skin aging. Here's are some ancient Chinese medicine secrets for younger looking skin.

Almonds to reduce fine lines

Photo by Nacho Fernández on Unsplash

Several factors, such as constant exposure to direct sunlight, lifestyle habits, and an unhealthy diet can cause skin aging. Having dry indoor air can also result in dry skin and make it look older than it really is. This is why it's important to increase the moisture in the air with a humidifier to keep your skin looking supple and young. Apart from adding humidity to your indoor air, another thing that you can do to keep your face smooth and wrinkle-free is to use almonds as part of your beauty regimen.

Almond oil has been used in ancient Chinese practices to help soothe and soften the skin. Since it contains Vitamin A, it can also stimulate the production of new skin cells and reduce fine lines. You can use a small amount of almond oil as a facial moisturizer, or use it as a makeup remover. You can also try using ground almonds as an overnight mask. Prepare an ancient Chinese skincare recipe by soaking almonds in water and peeling the brown skins off. Grind the peeled almonds and mix with one egg white. Apply to your face and leave it overnight; rinse it off in the morning with cool water to reduce fine lines.

Acupuncture for wrinkle-free skin


Photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash

Acupuncture can stimulate the body's healing responses, depending on where the needles are inserted. To improve wrinkles, an acupuncturist will insert needles in certain facial points to trigger the production of collagen in the body. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, but as we age, our bodies produce less and less collagen, which can result in wrinkles and older looking skin. By increasing the body's collagen stores, acupuncture can help to give you that radiant glow that you once had. Avoid reversing the effects of facial acupuncture by limiting your exposure to direct sunlight, avoiding smoking, and refraining from eating too much sugar and refined carbohydrates.

Soy to increase skin firmness


Photo by Yoav Aziz on Unsplash

Food therapy is an integral part of traditional Chinese medicine since the food we eat can have an effect on the way we look and feel. Soy products such as tofu and soy milk have always been consumed by women in various parts of Asia, which may explain why their skin looks younger than their years. Studies show that the nutrients in soy can increase the production of elastin in the body, which can make the skin stronger, firmer, and less likely to sag. You can include tofu or miso in your everyday meals, or mix warm soybean milk with a little ground almond, and drink it in the morning to enhance your skin's firmness.

Having younger looking skin doesn't have to cost you a fortune. Try these traditional Chinese remedies to get rid of fine lines, wrinkles and sagging, and enjoy having beautiful and healthy skin as you age.


Featured image photo by Alexander Krivitskiy on Unsplash


5 Wise Tips to Gain Weight and Lean Muscle in a Healthy Way

By Luke Douglas

Many people are concerned about their weight, but rarely do you hear someone wishing to add weight to their frame. For the most part, people want to achieve sensible weight loss to eliminate unwanted fat and reach a healthier weight target. Needless to say, losing weight is a healthy decision if you’re currently overweight, and especially if you’re experiencing certain symptoms that might deteriorate your health.

But then there are the people on the other end of the spectrum. Many of us are actually looking for a way to optimize our nutrition to gain weight in a healthy way and if possible, build lean muscle mass to shape our physique and make us stronger in the process. If you are currently for ways to add weight to your frame without adding unwanted fat, then you have to take a careful and calculated approach.

Let’s take a look at some important tips that will enable you to gain weight and lean muscle in a healthy way this year.

Prioritize your calories

You probably know by now that the most important element of weight loss or weight gain is how you manage your calories on a daily basis. Simply put, you need to eat more calories than you’re expending during the day in order to gain weight, and do the opposite if you’re trying to drop pounds off your frame. However, restricting calories can be much easier than adding them, because you’re not used to eating more and because you have to be very careful about the kind of calories you add to your diet.

Typically, you would always want to prioritize calories from protein-rich foods if your goal is to add lean muscle and sculpt your physique. Keep in mind that carbohydrates and fats are not fattening per se, but focusing on maximizing your protein intake will ensure that you keep growing muscle while burning fat. It takes more energy for your body to process proteins than other macronutrients, and protein is the building block of muscle.

Focus on the right exercise program

Once you know that you need to consume more calories, you can start complimenting your diet plan with muscle-building exercise. Remember, it’s much easier to add pounds to your frame by complementing your lifestyle with exercise, particularly if your training sessions revolve around resistance training.

You should focus your resistance training on hypertrophy (building muscle) and strength, because muscle is lean, and it shapes your body. If, on the other hand, you start eating more but don’t exercise, you can expect to add only fat to your frame. With that in mind, be sure to work closely with your personal trainer to create a workout routine that will prioritize strength and lean muscle growth.

Include the right supplements into your diet

When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s important to use healthy supplements in the form of vitamins and minerals. However, when you’re trying to build muscle and add weight, then it’s important to use specific supplements for muscle gain that will help optimize your metabolic rate, increase hunger steadily, and get more nutrients like protein into your system.

That said, supplementation is not a substitute for a healthy diet, but it can help you get more of the right calories into your body on a daily basis. After all, eating more is a difficult task, and you have to ensure that you stay consistent. The right weight gain supplements will focus on quality proteins but also the right micronutrients to help you slowly but surely start eating more healthy foods.

Try eating more frequently

Speaking of eating healthy, you can’t hope to put more food on your plate but eat the same number of meals every day. For many people who are struggling to add weight to their frame, eating more is impossible, but eating more frequently is a smart alternative.

The key is to add healthy meals into your daily routine, preferably something like a plant-based diet rich in fiber, vitamins, and various minerals. Eating more frequently is not only a great way to nurture your metabolism, but it’s also one of the best ways to safely add calories to your diet without even noticing the difference.

Hydrate throughout the day

Last but not least, remember that it’s not just about the calories and the supplements – it’s also about healthy hydration. Most of us forget to drink ample amounts of pure aqua every day, and that’s a bad habit that you’ll need to change if you want to add lean muscle and weight to your frame in a healthy way.

Hydration is extremely important for athletes, whether you’re exercising occasionally or every single day. Over the long term, proper hydration will help you stay energized and it will allow you to push your limits in training. Of course, you should try to drink more water between meals so that you don’t ruin your appetite.

Wrapping up

As with every habit in life, the key to healthy weight gain is to stay consistent. Follow these tips but make sure to adhere to them consistently over the following weeks and months and you should have no problem adding lean muscle and weight to your frame, sculpting the physique of your dreams.


Luke is a lifestyle blogger. He is editor in chief at blog Ripped.me and one of the contributors at blog Trans4Mind. He follows the trends in fitness, gym and healthy life and loves to share his knowledge through useful and informative articles.
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Emergency Treatment of Cardiac Arrest

By Luke Douglas

Dealing with a heart condition is one of the most difficult things in the world – for the doctors, for the patients, and their families. This is why avoiding any potential problems and minimizing the chances of heart failure in the first place is so important. However, in case something does end up happening and you might be forced to be admitted to a hospital, you’ll need to undergo emergency treatment. What does this treatment include in case of cardiac arrests, is there something you can do yourself, and what does the outcome look like?

No warning

The biggest problem each one of us faces when it comes to cardiac arrest is the fact that it can occur with no previous warning at all. You may be focused on your everyday activities, relaxing at your own home, or walking to your favorite store – and suddenly start experiencing the symptoms of cardiac arrest. That’s when you’ll probably either lose your responsiveness, start having problems breathing, or temporarily lose your consciousness.

Some of the other symptoms of cardiac arrest include the feeling of discomfort in your chest, sudden weakness, or an elevated heart rate. Feeling these things will probably scare you, and that’s quite normal and expected, but what you shouldn’t do is panic and lose your cool. If that happens, though, the symptoms will probably get even worse and you’ll start feeling even less comfortable because of that. Therefore, try to remain calm, think happy thoughts, and be patient because help is surely on the way.

Treating cardiac arrest

Whether it’s you, someone you know, or a person you’ve never met in your life, as soon as you notice something’s wrong, you need to react. Calling for help is the first thing you should do, especially if you’re home alone or with someone you can’t seem to help on your own. Once the medical professionals arrive at the scene, they’ll do some tests and check if you’re dealing with cardiac arrest or something else.

Still, before they arrive, there’s a simple technique you can perform and make a huge difference in the outcome.

CPR is a combination of chest compressions and rescue breathing you can perform on another person and possibly save their life. In case that doesn’t seem to work, the emergency medical team will take the patient to a hospital where the doctors will use defibrillation. This is a procedure that uses a defibrillator to issue electric shocks in the patient’s chest, trying to help the heart start beating on its own once again.

Getting certified

If someone in your family – from your partners and your parents to your children or your cousins – is struggling with cardiac arrest and experiences problems every once in a while, taking things to a new level is the best way to go. This means getting certified and learning how to deal with this problem professionally and effectively that won’t just minimize the consequences of cardiac arrest, but actually help the patient feel better than ever.

One of the ideas you could explore is taking an Advanced Cardiac Life Support course and learning all the tips and tricks that will allow you to help different people at the same time. The course you’ll take and the certification you’ll get will make you an expert in this field, which will, in turn, mean the people in your life struggling with cardiac arrest have nothing to worry about in the future.

Help yourself

Another huge issue with cardiac arrest is not being able to rely on someone else to help you. If you’re living alone or simply happen to be alone once you start feeling the aforementioned symptoms, you may get frightened and not know what to do. That’s why you need to learn a few techniques that will help you remain calm and start feeling better – at least until someone comes back home or the ambulance arrives your way.

One of the most popular solutions you can find online is the so-called cough CPR, but you need to keep in mind that this procedure isn’t the safest and most effective in the world. On the contrary, it could lead you to further issues and delay medical help that could save your life. Instead, what you need to do is take a minute, relax, sit down, and take a dose of glyceryl trinitrate. These come in tablets and spray, and could effectively prevent further damage to your heart. After you do that, you need to wait five or six minutes and repeat the process in case you remain feeling breathless.

In the end, no matter what happens, remember to call for help because cardiac arrest is a serious matter that should be treated by professionals. Still, if you know how to react and what to do, you’ll be able to save someone’s life, and that’s all that matters!


Luke is a lifestyle blogger. He is editor in chief at blog Ripped.me and one of the contributors at blog Trans4Mind. He follows the trends in fitness, gym and healthy life and loves to share his knowledge through useful and informative articles.
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Chinese Medicine To Support Sensible Weight Loss

By Sally Perkins

According to the CDC, around three-quarters of all American adults are overweight. With around two-thirds of these trying to change their eating habits and lose a few pounds, it’s no surprise that weight loss plans and programs are big business, with a huge range of suggestions and options touted as providing miraculous results – some with more success than others. Chinese medicine offers the opportunity for mindful, realistic and sustained weight loss, so if you’re looking for a sensible solution for an ongoing, healthy lifestyle, here are some changes you could consider making.

Food and Functionality

Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on many principles relating to food consumption, metabolism and digestion which can aid weight loss and improve your relationship with eating. Excessive weight gain is thought to relate to the accumulation of ‘dampness’ – a condition that occurs when food intake, absorption, digestion and transportation are not balanced. Take the festive season as an example – if you eat too much, or consume food higher in fat, your spleen and stomach will struggle to transform your food, and any excess will be left sitting stationary, leading to an accumulation of dampness.

Elimination of dampness is the main tenet of traditional Chinese weight loss programs, and there are a number of ways to achieve this. According to the guidelines, cultivating a diet of bitter, sour and pungent foods can aid with achieving a healthy body shape, and help you avoid fluctuating weight that can have an impact on your mood, wellbeing and budget – having to invest in different clothes of different sizes gets expensive, and has a negative impact on the environment too. Whether you’re ensuring your favorite bikini will fit exactly come the summer, aiming to eliminate health conditions exacerbated by weight, or simply want to adopt a more mindful lifestyle, changing the way you eat can make a real difference.

Antioxidant Assistance

Many Chinese people drink tea every day, and it is thought to have a number of health benefits. Polyphenols are an antioxidant found in tea and may help to maintain a healthy metabolism whilst you lose weight, repairing cells and easing digestive issues. Green tea, Jiaogulan tea and Oolong all have a soothing flavor and a good level of antioxidants, and just one cup a day is enough to make a difference – something that can be easily incorporated into most daily routines. There are also various herbs known to support weight loss by suppressing appetite, burning fat, and boosting metabolism. He Ye (lotus leaf), Fu Ling and Huang Qi are some of the most well-known, but there are others that may also be suitable, depending on your lifestyle, goals and commitment to weight loss. Consulting a Chinese medicine practitioner can help you to tailor an individual treatment plan based on your personal needs.


Photo by Kristaps Ungurs on Unsplash

Changing the way you eat and drink and supplementing with appropriate herbs is not just about losing weight; it’s about improving your overall wellbeing and health as well. Making one or two small changes at a time can support you to develop positive food habits that’ll balance your body and leave you feeling fit and functional – as well as helping you to stay that way.


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How Meditation Changes The Brain, Exterminates Depression

By Tiffany Harper

Meditation is an old spiritual exercise, commonly associated with Oriental spirituality. The method involves mindfulness, relaxation, and breathing patterns. The goal is to achieve a general state of well-being, specifically a psychological one. Today, meditation is a widespread wellness practice. You can find through meditation tutorials in books, on Youtube, or by taking classes.

So, chances are you tried meditation at least once. Therefore, you can agree that meditation is undoubtedly an excellent way to relax and unwind. But does it have real scientifically proven benefits on the brain? In this article, you’ll find out more about how meditation changes the brain and exterminates depression.

Meditation Against Depression And Anxiety

Mindful meditation is just as powerful as antidepressants. According to some research, the subjects experienced less anxiety, pain, and depression after practicing meditation. The result was incredible: meditation had a 0.3 effect on the subjects (moderate), which is just as much as the 0.3 of antidepressant medicines. Moreover, meditation can help reduce social anxiety. A precise type of meditation, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which focuses on stress, showed significant results in research. The participants took a course of MBSR for eight weeks, and the results were reduced physical and mental anxiety and stress. Furthermore, the effects lasted over the years. Lastly, meditation was found as a solution to social anxiety disorder: mindfulness reduces the activity of parts of the brain associated with unhappiness.

Meditation Improves Focus

A common problem among the global population is the difficulty to focus. Meditation was found to help increase concentration and attention. In one study, participants had meditation training for a few weeks. Then, they were tested for cognitive skills, including focus. The results revealed that they improved by 16%. This means that people who teach, work, or use their intellectual power for tasks can tackle their jobs better.

Likewise, kids were tested for their concentration skills since they are often associated with a lack of focus. In this case, meditation had a massive impact on developing minds. It can help with cognitive skills as well as emotional skills. Some schools implemented short meditation breaks, which brought an increase in GPAs and attendances, and a decrease in suspensions.

Meditation Helps Against Brain Aging

UCLA conducted a study that linked meditation to brain aging. They compared the brains of participants who meditated regularly to participants who didn’t. The results proved that the brains of the subjects who meditated still aged. However, they had more gray matter volume than the others. Even comparing old participants with young ones proved that meditation could slow the aging process of the brain while reducing the loss of gray matter.

Meditation Decreases The Activity Of The DMN

The Default Mode Network (DMN) consists of various parts of the brain that regulate self-referential and mind-wandering ideas. These thoughts are associated with unhappiness, worrying, and anxiety. A study by Yale University proves that meditation quiets the DMN. The participants who meditated could switch back to the present moment, while non-meditators would get lost in negative and worrying thoughts easier.

Meditation Positively Changes The Brain

A Harvard study showed that meditation could change the volume and dimensions of various brain parts. The research studied the participants in the eight-week program of MBSR:

  • The subjects had increased hippocampus thickness, which means that they improved their memory, emotional control, and learning skills.
  • The subjects showed diminished amygdala, which means that they are less likely to be afraid, anxious, and stressed.
  • The subjects showed a different perception of moods and emotions.

Meditation Against Addictions

Since meditation is centered around self-control, it was found to be useful against a variety of addictions. One research study proved that smoking addicts were more likely to give up smoking after meditation training. So, mindfulness showed even better results than the “Freedom From Smoking” program (FFS) after the 17-week follow-up. The reason behind the study’s success is that meditation helps people resist temptations, withdrawals, or cravings because it interrupts the connection between those and the addiction itself.

How To Effectively Meditate

Now that we know how many benefits meditation can bring, it’s time to practice it. At first, meditation can seem a challenging activity to do, or that requires special techniques and training. Nevertheless, meditation is a simple method to refocus the brain on the present moment, thus reducing stress, anxiety, brain aging, and other issues. Initially, it may seem impossible to quiet the mind. Still, after a couple of sessions, you may improve your cognitive skills.

Here is a simple guide to meditation:

  • Find a peaceful place in your home. It could be your living room, or even in your backyard. You can light up some candles or open up the window to create a pleasant atmosphere. If you’re going to focus on your breathing, you might want to have fresh or lightly scented air in your space. You also might want to play some calming music, especially if the environment you’re in isn’t quiet enough.
  • Find a good position. You can sit upright on a cushion on the floor with your legs crossed. Alternatively, you can lay on the bed or a mat and blanket. Just make sure that you’re comfortable and that your back is straight. If you’re sitting horizontally, make sure that your belly’s facing the ceiling.
  • Close your eyes. If you wish to work with your mind, you might want to rest your eyes to focus better.
  • Start to breathe slowly. You can inhale for four seconds and exhale for four. Take as many as you need to ease into it.
  • Observe your thoughts rather than thinking about them. Your brain will inevitably want to wander off and think about chores, fears, and feelings. Please don’t beat yourself up for it. Just try to observe them and gently come back to your breath.
  • Continue breathing and observe every sensation in the body.
  • Try to reach a mental state where you’re focusing on your sensation and your brain instead of thinking thoughts.

Keep coming back to your senses and breathing every time you get distracted.

  • Accept that your mind may not want to settle down. Just keep trying.
  • Once you reach a calm state, continue to breathe.
  • When you’re satisfied with your session, bat your eyelashes open and slowly return to your day.

Conclusion

The spiritual practice of meditation has a myriad of benefits, from reducing brain aging to improving mood, focus, and self-control. If you want to start meditating, find a quiet place in your home to focus on your breath with your eyes closed. The first day you may not be able to concentrate on your breath well. Nonetheless, if you keep trying, you’ll get there.


Author Bio
Tiffany Harper is a freelancer and blogger from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She specializes in psychology, natural remedies, and wellness topics. Tiffany is also a yoga lover, so every Saturday if she is not working as a consultant with an essay writer from Write My Essay, she spends her free time meditating in the local park. Please do not hesitate to contact her on twitter


Sources:
1. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/04/harvard-researchers-study-how-mindfulness-may-change-the-brain-in-depressed-patients/
2. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/how-meditation-helps-with-depression
3. https://eocinstitute.org/meditation/depression-shrinks-our-brain-how-meditation-builds-it-back-up/
4. https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/02/09/7-ways-meditation-can-actually-change-the-brain/#207157b71465
5. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/what-does-mindfulness-meditation-do-to-your-brain/
6. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mindfulness-in-frantic-world/201110/curing-depression-mindfulness-meditation


Other Sources:
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3. [http://scan.oxfordjournals.org/content/8/1/65.short]
4. [http://pss.sagepub.com/content/24/5/776]
5. [https://srcd.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1750-8606.2011.00215.x]
6. [http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10826-013-9784-4]
7. [http://journal.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01551/full]
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9. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ articles/PMC3004979/]
10. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ articles/PMC3927233/]
11. [http://www.pnas.org/content/110/34/13971.short]


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Emotional Healing In A Time of Crisis

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

We are living in unprecedented times in our world. We have just lived through a global pandemic of COVID-19 and the world we knew no longer exists. Anger and frustration are coming out in so many ways all over the world as people struggle with the new reality and many struggle to survive. 

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To me, it isn’t the physical challenges that the virus presents that worry me, it is the emotional state of our global population. In the US we see riots, campaigns to defund the police, racial tensions, destruction of property and businesses and unprecedented violence. No matter how many of us may want to politicize what is happening, I think it points to something much deeper that has been brewing for much longer than many people realize. People are angry. They are frustrated. Life is getting harder. People work more for less money. There is so much uncertainty about the future. Many have lost their businesses. Their jobs. Their abilities to support their families. People are exhausted and scared. And they see more and more corruption at every level of business and government - which only feeds the anger and frustration that a few profit at the expense of so many. 

 


Photo by Tito Texidor III on Unsplash

I can’t offer a solution to the problems we face as a global community, but I think that we need to be honest about what is happening and be able to express those feelings. We have a right to be angry, frustrated and afraid. And we need to give those feelings a place to go. There is so much “political correctness” that people these days feel that they can’t say anything for fear it will offend somebody. We need to be able to have honest discussions about what is REAL and TRUE. And yes, it might offend somebody. In the present climate, the truth seems to have become a dirty word. The truth might hurt someone’s feelings. The truth might not be what someone wants to hear. And this is part of the problem. Because the truth is what is going to save us. 

For most of my life and career, I have been very conscious of focussing on the good. The positive. Practising kindness. Being loving. Having compassion. But I don’t insulate my life and not let anything negative come in. That would be delusional. When you are healing, people come and they need those things. They are hurting so they need love, kindness, compassion and your positivity and light. Those are the things that start the healing process, and support it until the end. But now I see that we seem to be having a reality problem. Some people are unable or unwilling to accept what is happening in the world. I understand this, as often, the reality is dark. It’s hard. There are things that are difficult to accept. And they hurt. 

There have been a lot of difficult truths coming to the surface lately. And if you don’t know what I am talking about, then you aren’t paying attention. This has been causing a lot of pain and a lot of grief. The new reality, for many, is difficult to accept. 

Another theme I see that is contributing to a lot of pain is that there seems to be a conscious effort to divide us. Break us apart and make us fight with each other. This breeds fear, fear of the “other” and only compounds the feelings of grief, depression, anxiety and isolation that have exploded since this all began. They want you to feel that you are alone. But the truth is, that you are not alone. There are more than 7 billion of us on the planet. We are a global community, and we have the intelligence and creativity to solve any problem we may face. But we can’t solve problems when we are angry, sad and afraid. You cannot focus your energy on solving problems when you are fighting an enemy.

I have been thinking about how we might go about trying to heal from so many of the powerful emotions we are dealing with right now. Both ones that have been building up for years, and the ones that are a result of this new situation that we find ourselves in. Chinese Medicine is really unique in how it looks at our emotions and how important they are to our health and wellbeing. As many of you know, each of the emotions is associated with an organ or an organ pair and when that emotion is healthy and in balance, it is strengthening to the body and that organ in particular. But when that emotion is out of balance, in excess or unexpressed, it is depleting to the body and its respective organs, causing problems in all aspects of your life and health. Generally in our culture, we are not taught that emotions can make us sick, but I think that most of us instinctively know that this is true. How does your stomach feel when you worry? Or how about those headaches when you are angry and stressed? How does your heart feel when you are grieving?

The good news is that because emotions are built into the system of Chinese Medicine, it also offers solutions and practices we can use to keep emotionally healthy. Each of the seasons, for example, offer us an opportunity to really work to clear old emotions we’ve been holding on to and balance and strengthen the system. I have been thinking that this wisdom is so needed right now. 

The emotions - things that hurt us, cause us grief or stir up anger can be an opportunity to learn something about ourselves. Why are we having these reactions to things that are happening? Why does one person respond to a situation in anger when another might feel grief?

Treating Emotions in the Real World

Helping us to manage the tsunami of emotions we are all feeling right now is the understanding that we must first become aware of the emotions, and then work to change not WHAT we are feeling but how we REACT to those feelings. Read that again. It's so simple, but it will likely change the way you think about how you may be feeling.

In my work with patients, we often start with simple awareness. Let's use an example.

If you are struggling with a particular emotion, let's say grief. Usually (but not always), the person is aware of the grief. The cause is the death of someone close to them, their loss is causing the grief. The lungs in Chinese Medicine are associated with grief, so there might be lung symptoms as well- shortness of breath, asthma, dizziness (not enough oxygen), coughing, etc. Their grief can literally be causing the lung symptoms because intense or excessive grief weakens the lungs' Qi. The person is describing how they are feeling, saying they feel consumed by their grief, out of breath, have no energy and are anxious and stressed because the grief is making it difficult to function because they still need to go to work and look after their young children. And this is it. The grief is a completely natural result of someone important in your life passing away. But the reaction is an increasing feeling of anxiety and panic because there is no space for the grief in their life because they have to keep going to work and looking after children.

So, we look at those feelings first - the anxiety and panic - and we figure out a way to help to manage them. Are you able to take some time off? Could the children go to stay with a grandparent for a few days? Can you take some time to allow yourself the space to grieve? Do you have someone you can talk to about everything you are feeling? All of these things will help release some of the pressure that can make these emotions so overwhelming. Just the acknowledgement begins the healing process. We start with the reaction - the anxiety because of the pressure to keep going normally while you are suffering - and work backwards to the grief itself.

When we get to the grief, there are a few ways that we can help reduce its intensity. We work to strengthen the lungs and build up their Qi, which very often helps lessen the grief's potency. We create a space for the grief to be felt, fully allowing those feelings to be expressed. In Chinese Medicine, the way emotions can be causes of disease is if they are repressed or unexpressed, leading to a stagnation in the body and eventual toxicity. Anyone who has a secret or something in their past they have been holding on to for years can tell you. It has an effect. Holding on to emotions isn't good for you, so finding the proper avenue for their expression is an important part of the healing process.

We are living in challenging times that are unprecedented in our history. Our struggles are multi-faceted right now. People are struggling to find their way in the new reality we face as a global community. The good news is that human beings have incredible intelligence, adaptability and resiliency. If we are able to stay positive, stick together and express what we are all feeling honestly, we can come out the other side of these difficult times stronger and with a new appreciation for everything good that still exists in this world.

If you need help working through what you are feeling right now or healing in general, I am here for you. My information is below.


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Martial Arts for Over 50's

By Cameron Cromwell

A commonly asked question is, ‘Can I start martial arts if I am over 50?’ The short answer is, absolutely yes! It is never too late to take up martial arts. This is especially true with the variety of martial arts and training programs available today. Many schools are offering classes that are ideally suited for older beginners.

There are a lot of reasons why someone over 50 might be contemplating taking up martial arts for the first time, or even returning to martial arts after many years away. I have provided a list of benefits specifically this age group. If you decide to give it a try then there is nothing stopping you. However, to help you get the best start I have also provided some advice that you may find helpful.

The Benefits

Fitness

Strength is perhaps the most obvious benefit because martial arts is a physical activity. Any type of resistance training helps to keep the muscles strong and healthy. In turn, this helps you to stay active and mobile while reducing the chance of injury from normal daily activities, such as moving heavy items around. It also helps to keep pain and discomfort away as you get older.

Balance & coordination improves form the strength and conditioning of your muscles and by ensuring your core remains strong. Good balance and coordination help to avoid injuries from falling or not getting out of the way quickly.

Flexibility comes from good stretching of all parts of the body. This is an important part of any good martial art training because flexibility helps you to be more effective with the skills and techniques you are taught. Good flexibility can help you in all parts of your life by reducing the risk of injury from normal day to day activities. Muscles will lose their elasticity over time if we allow it and this increases the chances of pulling or tearing a muscle or ligament. Injuries like this can take much longer to heal as we get older.

Cardiovascular improves when you regularly exercise and get your heartbeat up. This has many known health benefits. By improving your circulatory system, which includes your heart and blood vessels, your body is able to efficiently deliver nutrients and oxygen to the tissues of your body and to remove carbon dioxide and other wastes. In turn, this increases energy levels, makes it easier to sustain energetic activities, and recover faster from exercise and even injuries.

Weight loss becomes more of a consideration for us as we get older. Most of us find it too easy to put on unhealthy weight. Life transpires against us by slowing down our metabolism and getting us to spend more time behind a desk or doing things that require less physical activity on a daily basis. On top of this, going for regular runs or hitting the weights at the gym does not burn off the fat like it
used to.

Excess weight takes a significant toll on our health and ability to enjoy life. This is especially true if weight gain continues unchecked. However, it does not have to be an irreversible trend. It does mean that as we get older we need to exercise differently, and perhaps a little smarter. There is a lot of evidence today that controlled, high intensity, bursts of exercise and muscle strengthening, such as that offered by most martial arts, is more effective for burning fat and reducing excess weight for people over 40.

Keeping active

Simply put, staying active slows down the ageing process and helps you to get more out of life. With better fitness, you will not become tired as quickly. This is important for everyday life, but it can really make the difference of enjoying yourself when it comes to enjoying our precious weekends and vacations.

Some people want to be able to keep up with their grandchildren when the time comes. Why not make it so that your grandchildren struggle to keep up with you.

Posture

Muscle strength, flexibility and greater self-awareness of your body help to improve posture. A better posture makes you feel better about yourself and to look more self-confident. It also helps to prevent neck and back problems that can develop over time.

Self-confidence

It is amazing how much more confident you look and feel when you maintain your fitness and strength with the knowledge that you can do things that many people cannot, even those half your age. It signals to others that you may be older but you should not be underestimated.

As we get older we learn to appreciate the value of not relying on physical strength alone, even if we know we can. Martial arts help to develop an inner strength that can be drawn upon when needed. This, in turn, helps us to remain calm when the situation calls for it.

Self-defence

The martial arts have always been about self-defence. Even non-contact activities like Yoga and Tai Chi owes its roots to combative forms of martial arts.

Do you need to learn self-defence? Well, hopefully not. However, it is a sad fact that some people will try to intimidate and even prey on older people. But, getting older does not mean you have to become more vulnerable.

However, don’t expect to become Bruce Lee. It would be irresponsible to suggest that simply practising martial arts will make you invincible. The truth is that most martial arts today have developed into a sport whereby very specific rules are followed. In the real world, where things can quickly become dangerous, these rules don’t exist.

Saying that, if you train to box and you find yourself in a fistfight you will punch, block and dodge hits better. This improves your chances of not getting seriously injured. Most attacks and street brawls end up on the ground and this is where Judo or Jiu-jitsu training comes in handy.

It is true that you will become fitter, stronger and more self-confident, and these will no doubt help you defend yourself if the need arises. Your posture and body language alone may discourage someone from becoming aggressive toward you.

Mental health

Martial arts are not just about physical abilities. The tradition of most martial arts today, especially those of Asian origins, place as much emphasis on a healthy mind and positive mental attitude as they do on good physical abilities. For hundreds of years, what we have come to call ‘mindfulness’ in recent years, has always been a valued part of martial arts training. The good news is that even a healthy inner self remains an important benefit of modern martial arts.

Social interaction - Martial arts provide wellbeing in lots of ways. For example, just by participating you engage in social interaction and you are likely to make friends. Friends help to keep you going when you are tired or feeling low. As we get older it is easy to allow ourselves to become lonely and isolated. Joining a martial arts class is a great way to prevent this from happening.

Endorphins - Classes with periods of intense training will increase your levels of endorphins. Sometimes referred to as a ‘runner’s high’ this is a natural way of creating a good feeling. Regular exercise and release of endorphins are linked to improvements in mental health in people of all ages. Just because you are older doesn’t mean you can’t participate in the type of training that releases endorphins, even if start gradually and build up over time.

Personal achievement - As you learn new skills and are capable of doing things you could never do before you will enjoy a sense of personal achievement. This is enhanced when you are feeling more physically fit. Once you start training it will not take long to start feeling the boost to your self-esteem and general good feeling.

Cognitive function - Martials arts require learning very precise and accurate movements. Often these movements become a trained response to other stimulation. The more complicated the response and movement the more practice that is needed to perfect it. This training develops a good connection between your brain and muscles. There are studies that show an improvement in the cognitive ability of people over 50 after only 8 weeks of practising Tai Chi.

Reduced stress - Unfortunately, getting older does not necessarily mean you will become less stressed. This is especially true if you have greater responsibilities at work or demands from your family and life in general. Stress, if not managed correctly, can have serious health consequences.

Martial arts teach you to relax as you train to be more effective. Most people find that the focus during training causes them to temporarily forget all the things causing stress in their life. Then there are the physical exertions of martial arts to vent any pent-up, negative, energy. The endorphins that are released help to reduce pain, and they also help you to sleep better which helps
to reduce stress.

Getting Started

If you are reading this then you are probably aware that as you become older your body becomes more vulnerable to injury. Not everyone shows signs of ageing at the same rates, but nevertheless we are all ageing. While there is a lot that you can still do, probably much more than you might think, you will need to consider two things:

1) Your starting point
2) The limitations of your body

If you are already reasonably fit you will find it easier to get started with martial arts, just as you would with any new sport. If you have not been doing any form of physical exercise for a while your muscles will need time to strengthen. Beginner classes are intended to help you gradually build up your fitness while learning basic techniques.

Can’t kick someone above their shins? No problem. If it is a flexibility issue then you will improve. If you have a permanent restriction, such as bad hip or knee, oftentimes it is possible to learn how to safely adapt. Martial arts can even help to improve some injuries. For example, if you suffer from lower back pain then martial arts will keep your core muscles strong which protects the spine. A slimmer belly from exercising takes considerable strain off the lower back.

Still not sure? You can always get a medical check-up. Use the results to help you decide the type of training that is most suitable for you. You can discuss the results with a potential school instructor when looking for a martial arts school or club to join.

Of course, there are some limitations and disabilities that will make most martial arts impractical. You will need to decide this for yourself, but don’t be too hasty in telling yourself you can’t learn martial arts. It is worth exploring the different types to find out if there is one for you. I have recently seen a martial arts program that teaches the use of a cane for self-defence, which included students in wheelchairs.

Types of Martial Arts

This would become a very long article if I attempted described every type of martial art that is practised today. Even the more commonly practised martial arts make a long list. For an idea of popular martial arts that might appeal to you have a look at A Guide to the Most Popular Martial Arts.

Selecting a Martial Arts School

In many ways, the martial arts school, its attitude, its culture, and the available programs are more important than the type of martial art that you choose. When making a decision here are a few things you may want to consider:

  • Ask to join a taster session – these are usually free.
  • Ask to observe a few beginner classes to see what they are really like – avoid clubs that focus on training fighters
  • Find a school that you can easily get to – you are more likely to stick with it if it is reasonably convenient to get to the classes.
  • Take a friend or family member. This can make it more enjoyable to get started.
  • Women only classes - some schools offer a friendly and less intimidating environment for women to get started.
  • Senior only classes - some schools offer classes that provide a training program designed for older participants.
  • Speak to the owner or lead instructor -
    • What are his/her credentials?
    • What is his or her attitude toward training?
    • What is his or her approach to helping older people to get started?
    • Can techniques be adapted to help students with physical limitations?

All martial arts have benefits. The best way to find out how you will personally benefit is to give it a try. Start with one and discover what you like about it. Sometimes it is the type of martial arts, sometimes it is the type of training, and sometimes it is just the class and the people in it that make it appealing.

If you are not sure about the school that you joined, for whatever reason, try a different school or martial art. Lots of people try more than one martial art for many reasons. You can even join more than one at the same time.

What to Expect

There is nothing wrong with engaging any type of martial arts at any point in your life. There are plenty of examples of people in their 70s earning black belts. I recently saw a video of someone in their 80s learning military-style self-defence for the first time, albeit in a suitably structured one-to-one lesson.

No matter how much you want to jump in with both feet and start training like could in your 20's and 30's it just isn’t going to work exactly the same. Even if you are reasonably fit, once you are into your 40's and beyond you need to think differently about your training. This is not to say you can’t be strong and fit, it just takes a different approach. Martial arts can provide ideal training as you get older.

Many schools that traditionally taught the hard-impact martial arts like boxing, kickboxing, and Muay Thai now offer non-contact classes. These are perfect for beginners and anyone wanting to enjoy the physical and mental benefits without the aggressive sparring that could lead to injury. These classes are just as fun and challenging.

 

Cameron Cromwell is the creator of Absolutely Martial Arts, a website aimed at introducing people to martial arts and helping them to get started.



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