Botox and Teeth Grinding | The Daily Glow

Botox and teeth grinding…what’s the deal?

Botox…a polarising word to say the least, and the funny part is most people aren’t actually 100% clear on what Botox is or what it can be used for.  There’s a stigma associated with it, despite it being widely used for therapeutic purposes, and it has taken the blame for all sorts of odd looking famous faces.  One of the uses that has become more popular recently is for teeth grinding and clenching and overall jaw slimming.  So what is going on?

“Botox” is the name of a product produced by Allergan, and is the most well-known version of botulinum toxin, a prescription drug that can be used to reduce muscle contraction or movement when injected into the area to be treated.  Originally called Oculinum (doesn’t sound as scary as Botox, does it?), it was used to treat strabismus (cross-eyes) by reducing the contraction of overly active eye muscles that were unbalanced and pulling the eye off to one side.  Patients used to joke that they were back for the “forehead smoother” as this tended to be a side effect of the treatment.  An enterprising ophthalmologist named Jean Carruthers was the first person to treat a patient for “frown lines”, and along with her dermatologist husband, they have been pioneers on the cosmetic use of Botox and co-author thousands of medical papers on the topic.

Botox and Teeth Grinding | The Daily Glow

Botox is used for many cosmetic and therapeutic concerns, including frown lines, “gummy” smiles, crow’s feet and migraines.  Some uses are FDA approved, and other are classed as “off-label” (not specifically FDA approved for that particular use, but may be used by relatively widely by clinicians).  Licensed use varies from country to country, and gets updated as evidence grows.

Botox works to relax muscles by reducing contraction (and YES, you can paralyse them if you give too much, dosage is very important), and this is why is can help teeth grinding and clenching, and the pain associated with this when injected in the masseter muscle (largest and strongest of the jaw closing muscles).  It can also reduce the width of the lower face if this muscle has grown bigger from so much use (just like any muscles do with exercise!), by stopping the patient from essentially taking that muscle to the gym every night (and day, if they clench during the day too).  Similar to how you don’t maintain a six pack if you’re not doing the sit ups, you won’t maintain a large masseter muscle if you’re not over-exercising it.

Botox and Teeth Grinding | The Daily Glow

Teeth grinding or clenching (clinically known as bruxism) can present with a number of signs, such as an excessively large or swollen muscle (not very common), worn, fractured or chipped teeth, ridging along the sides of the tongue or inside the cheeks and jaw, facial, neck and tooth pain.  Stress, injury, pregnancy, lack of sleep, excessive use of stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine, and nutritional deficiencies can all be contributing factors, but unfortunately the cause is not always clear – which means the treatment can be tricky.  Often a stressful period can spark an episode of grinding, or worsen an existing habit to the point the person starts experiencing pain or other problems.  A night guard is still the standard fix – which is great if that works, as it’s simple, straightforward and cost effective.  The trouble is when this doesn’t work: the patient can’t wear it, takes it out while asleep, or still experiences pain.

Botox and Teeth Grinding | The Daily Glow

My patients typically present with either pain or worn (or fractured) teeth due to excessive activation of the masseter muscle and heavy forces on their teeth.  I have even seen a patient fracture a titanium dental implant due to excessive biting forces.  Some people don’t have any symptoms, and are totally unaware of clenching; while others have been taking prescription painkillers for months or even years due to pain.   A night guard can be great as preventing damage to your teeth, but rarely will it stop you clenching, and I have found some patients complain of the pain related to it increasing.

Botox injections for teeth grinding and jaw slimming are still classed as “off-label” by the FDA, but have been used since the early 1990’s with relative success.  Personally, I was wearing a night guard for 17 years, and still suffered from jaw pain, especially when stressed.  After a particularly stressful few months, botox injections were a game changer for me – I felt like my sleep improved and the pain vanished completely.

Botox and Teeth Grinding | The Daily Glow

Botox or botulinum toxin A is a prescription drug for a reason, it should be administered by a trained healthcare professional and may not be suitable or predictable in certain cases – however, I have had wonderful results personally, and with many, many patients to date.  If you think you may be clenching or grinding, you should discuss it with your dentist, and consider the solutions available to you.   If you’re suffering from jaw pain, or have trouble wearing a night guard feel free to email me at jennifer@thedailyglow.com to arrange an assessment.

Botox and Teeth Grinding | The Daily Glow

Turmeric and Vitamin C smoothie | The Daily Glow

Turmeric and vitamin C smoothie to fight off the flu

Is there anyone out there that is not actually sick? Seriously?  I thought I would have avoided it, due to a combination of not doing the dog on it over the festive season, and having the flu vaccine all the way back in October.  Nope, aches and pains, feeling light-headed and sniffling, with a mo’fo of a sore throat to top it off…even though perhaps it would be worse without said vaccine?  Who knows, and right now I don’t care, I just want to feel better.

 

We’ve all heard the classic advice, fluids, rest and paracetamol…but what if that’s just not cutting it?  Vitamin C, zinc, vitamin B – check.  After gargling water until drowning seems a realistic possibility, and genuinely considering swallowing an entire tube of the topical anaesthetic in work, I found some other ways to soothe my symptoms.

Turmeric and Vitamin C smoothie | The Daily Glow

  1. Liquid chlorophyll

I’ve mentioned this before in relation to acne and clear skin, and the brand I’d recommend is Nature’s Sunshine, usually available from Here’s Health, or your local health food store might be able to order it in for you.  Chlorophyll is a great all round detoxer (hello there, January) but also really good to soothe a sore throat – and diluted in water, it’s another way to up your much needed fluid intake. The Nature’s Sunshine version tastes nice and isn’t as concentrated as some brands, which means it shouldn’t stain you teeth (some of them are really thick and dark).  I add a tablespoon to a 2L bottle that I keep in the fridge to drink throughout the day, and will have a few glasses with a half a teaspoon to treat a sore throat on top of that.  It has a really nice cooling effect and I have yet to get sick of the taste (can’t say as much for cough syrup).

 

Turmeric and Vitamin C smoothie | The Daily Glow

2.  Tea tree oil

A blocked nose can really benefit from facial steaming (especially if your hearing has become affected) and I like to add tea tree oil to the bowl – which will not only help clear your sinuses, but  is also great for any skin breakouts.  Another way to do this is the get yourself an oil diffuser – I have a water based one in work that helps my surgery not smell like the dentist (which can help with nervous patients) and humidifies the air, helping both my sinuses and skin to function better (air conditioning can be a nightmare for both).  Not too sure where my diffuser came from, as it was a present, but you can easily find some online.

Turmeric and Vitamin C smoothie | The Daily Glow

 

3. Turmeric

Currently in fashion, mainly for it’s anti-inflammatory effects, I’ve written about its benefits before.  Not only is it anti-inflammatory, but turmeric also has anti-microbial properties.  I have turmeric with hot water, lemon and ginger most days, but while run down I looked to up the dose somewhat – and this smoothie was the result:

1 x banana

1 x t1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 x small knob ginger, peeled

1 can of coconut milk (I use the full fat version, but either should work)

Handful of raspberries

Juice of 1/3 of a lemon

Turmeric and Vitamin C smoothie | The Daily Glow

Blend together and serve with your favourite netflix series and a box of tissues.  Have you also been struck down with the flu?  I’d love to hear any tips you have for fighting it off, and if you try any of the above – I hope they help!

5 health hacks that don't include a detox | The Daily Glow

5 Health Hacks – that don’t include a detox

Okay so I don’t know about you, but New Year’s day being on a Monday means none of the “January health buzz” starts until the following Monday…which is followed by “Blue Monday”, officially the worst Monday of the year…none of which make for the best start to the year.  Congratulations, you have made it out the other side (Mondays can only get better now!), and hopefully you still have some of your initial enthusiasm (too strong a word?  Resignation might be more accurate perhaps) for starting 2018 on a healthy note intact.  After the first few weeks however, I have found the combination of meal-prepping, going back to work and sweating it out in an over crowded gym (where do they come from?)  robbed some of the aforementioned enthusiasm (resignation, yes it’s resignation).  Below are a few ways I’ve found to propel me forward, no matter how low my motivational level has dropped.

 

  1. Listen to something to wake you up

I’ve recently started listening to podcasts instead of music in the gym and on the way to work – and some really help me find motivation and focus when I’m struggling.  My current favourite first thing on a Monday morning is Gary Vee, as he is one of the most energetic and inspiring people on the planet, but I also add in some Bulletproof Radio and Tony Robbins to balance it out a bit (Gary’s energy is infectious – but even on a good day I can’t keep it up all day long!).  If you line up the podcasts you want to listen to for the week on a Sunday evening, it makes it much easier to just press play while you’re half asleep – and once again, the bluetooth headphones I found in Penneys make it easy to go about your normal morning routine.

5 health hacks that don't include a detox | The Daily Glow

 

2. Put the kettle on

Any morning that I find myself struggling from the moment my alarm goes off, I have found that if I can just get out of bed, the rest of it is much more manageable.  So instead of scrolling endlessly through social media, or hitting the snooze button, I have started to pretend that I can go back to bed with a cup of coffee – I just have to go downstairs and put the kettle on.  Now, in theory this should be far too simple a trick to play on myself – but somehow, it works!  By the time the kettle is boiled, I am awake enough to keep going and get myself to the gym etc – I think it’s the physical getting out of bed that does the trick here, so hopefully I can keep falling for it.

5 health hacks that don't include a detox | The Daily Glow

 

3. Wash your face

Similar to the step above, this wakes you up enough to remember why you set your alarm for silly o’clock in the first place – and makes it harder to go back to sleep.  It also can help prevent wrinkles around your eyes, as washing your face is a far less damaging to the delicate skin in this area than rubbing them vigorously to remove any traces of sleep.

 

4. Detox your social media

This one is quite topical after the media storm surrounding some well-know Irish “influencers” this month, but if reaching for your phone and scrolling is how you start your day, it can have a massive impact on your mood and mindset for the whole day.  Not only is watching the world’s highlight reel first thing presenting you with a distorted perspective as you wake up, it’s also way too easy for minutes (and hours) to disappear without you even realising – and being late is certainly not going to help anyone feel better in January.  I tried a digital detox before, and couldn’t believe how often my hand automatically reached for my phone when it wasn’t there, and was shocked at how much extra time I had due to the lack of social media meandering.  Although I probably won’t go quite so hard core again for a while, unfollowing accounts that don’t bring me any net benefit has positively changed the time I do spend scrolling – so it turns out you can even Marie Kondo your instagram feed.

 

5.  Reward yourself

A common enough instruction in diet advice articles, this one can be very effective.  There are many different ways of implementing it – so whether saving money, losing weight or performing better at work are part of your goals, there’s always an appropriate carrot to be found.  At the base of a motivational slump is exactly when I find scheduling or organising something to treat myself works best – ordering a new pair of runners or signing up for a run (not everyone’s idea of fun, I’ll grant you) or planning a couple of hours off to use a shopping voucher I got for Christmas or meet friends for coffee are usually my go-tos.  Baking or exercising will also turn my mood around instantly  if I’m in a totally useless mood.

5 health hacks that don't include a detox | The Daily Glow

January 17th is apparently when most of us break our New Years resolutions, so if you fell off the the straight and narrow last Wednesday you were in good company – and you fell with me and my glass of wine.  But as the saying goes, it’s not falling down that matters, it’s the getting back up.  So whether it’s a healthy eating or exercise regime you committed to, decluttering your house (or your life), reaching for a goal that ignites your inner passion, or even just taking 5 minutes for yourself at the end of every day, know that you’re not the only one wavering and give yourself a break…just get back up after!

5 health hacks that don't include a detox | The Daily Glow

New Year...same old me | The Daily Glow

New year…same old me

I must admit, the whole “New Year, new me” thing really irritates me.  Just like when you reach a milestone birthday…you’re not really a whole lot different once the clock strikes midnight – but people tend to make a deal of it.  And yet, I do find those few days between Christmas and NYE (when nobody knows what day it is, what time it is, or if they’ve actually reached a lethal limit in food  intake yet) to naturally encourage me to reflect on the past year – please note that usually I would put this down to an extreme and intense case of the fear (induced by alcohol, lack of exercise and overconsumption of sugar), but this Christmas has been a bit different, and I’m still spending an unwarranted amount of time navel gazing.

New Year...same old me | The Daily Glow

This year I am spending Christmas and NYE in one of my favourite places in the whole world, in  south Thailand – the best thing you can do with yourself, if you are in any way curious, and just so you know, wearing a bikini for the best part of Christmas day, does tend to curb the over eating (somewhat).  So I have escaped the usual ten nights out in a row and most of the eating and drinking to excess, and spent some time with family and close friends…and yet I am still almost looking forward to a fresh start in January – new journal ordered (I’m a stationery freak, among my other attractive qualities), business plan for 2018 in the pipeline and already booking flights as my calendar is filling up.

New Year...same old me | The Daily Glow

My 2016 was about as great as the endless memes that likened it to the end of the world, so 2017 was better by a mile (it wasn’t hard!) – it really has been a great year, although primarily focused on work and study, my social life has been left to slide somewhat.  I read once that balance is possible – be that work/life balance, being health conscious, spending enough time with family etc – but just maybe not all at once.  There will be years where study or work are at the forefront, as you build your career, other stages where sleep is lacking and family takes precedent and so on.  Have you found the balance of your life slip predominantly in one direction over the last few years?  Whatever stage of life you’re in, it’s pretty likely that something has taken over, to the detriment of either your health, family or friends.  Have you reached the end of one stage, with the next on the horizon?  This year I will be doing my best to make up the balance of fun that may have been over looked over the past two years…so 2018, please hurry up!

New Year...same old me | The Daily Glow

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Bulletproof Coffee | The Daily Glow

Butter and coffee – and mental clarity

Bulletproof coffee has been a fad for a few years now – with its main presence of social media consisting of videos of butter being blended with coffee and coconut oil.  It has been claimed to promote weight loss, improve physical performance and seriously boost energy…but do any of these claims actually stack up?

The original bulletproof recipe came from Dave Asprey, the bulletproof executive.  I started following Dave’s blog years ago, when he was experimenting with anything and everything that could make him more productive, and before his coffee recipe became a thing.  He has spent a serious amount of time and money trying out different sleep patterns, diets and exercise (among other things), in an attempt to discover the most efficient and easiest way to feel as healthy and energetic as possible – so he’s not advocating spending every hour in the gym and eating only green plants, but instead trying to “biohack” his body for maximum results, with the least investment of time and energy necessary.

I started drinking bulletproof coffee after reading Dave’s book, Head Strong: The Bulletproof Plan to Activate Untapped Brain Energy to Work Smarter and Think Faster-in Just Two Weeks, last May.  I had started a new job, and was studying part time, so I was looking for a way to focus more clearly and for longer – and one that wasn’t going to take up a tonne of my time, as I didn’t really have any to spare.

Bulletproof Coffee | The Daily Glow

I now have bulletproof coffee (and usually only bulletproof coffee) for breakfast, and have converted some of my nearest and dearest to it too.  There are a number of variations on the recipe, but I have the following:

  • one large cafetiere of coffee
  • a tablespoon of butter
  • a tablespoon of XCT oil (a fraction of coconut oil, consisting of medium chain triglycerides and completely flavourless)
  • a spoon of collagelatin protein powder

I blend all of this together in a nutribullet and drink it on the way to work.  With this I take omega 3 fish oils and Coenzyme Q 10 – because they are apparently best absorbed if consumed with fat.  I’ve noticed a big difference in mental clarity, as promised, and both my mood and blood sugar appear to be more stable.

Bulletproof Coffee | The Daily Glow

 

Blood sugar

Previously, I was the type of person that had to eat regularly, or I simply couldn’t function.  Having patients that ran through my lunch could be a big problem sometimes, and I would feel pretty awful if I didn’t eat when I was supposed to.   I have seen the difference that bulletproof coffee has made most clearly in this area – missing my lunch is unfortunately a regular enough occurrence, but once I’ve had my coffee, I no longer become foggy-headed or as tired as I did before.  I’ve had days when I haven’t had the chance to eat until after 5pm (not something I’d recommend), but have almost forgotten I missed lunch because the impact has been minimal.

 

Mid morning slump

This has all but disappeared – that crash that I used to experience after regular coffee (particularly on an empty stomach) no longer sends me looking  for toast/chocolate/anything that looks vaguely appealing around 11am – although if there’s a delivery of donuts from Aungier Danger in the staff room, I am not responsible for my actions.

 

Mental clarity

Avoiding both the mid morning slump and light headed moments have obviously improved how well I’m able to function, but on top of that, my head just feels clearer anyway – and I find it so much easier to focus, and for longer periods of time   The way I’ve really noticed this is that when I have porridge or toast as well as my coffee, I don’t have that same clarity.  This is, I think, down to the carbohydrates in the said toast or porridge.  Reducing carbohydrates or calories can promote a fat burning state called ketosis, in which your body gets energy from fat (ketone bodies) instead of glucose.  The XCT oil in the coffee contains exogenous ketones, and, along with reducing carbs, can help your body to burn fuel from fat instead of glucose – something that is gaining popularity in both fitness and health circles, as it can supposedly increase mental clarity and promote fat loss.

Bulletproof Coffee | The Daily Glow

Weight

I haven’t noticed much of a difference weight wise, although I would imagine if you have a big problem with cravings throughout the day (and have a job that allows you to eat while working), this could have a big impact on unwanted weight gain.  Some of my friends have found it fills them up though, and they tend to snack less as a result – and they can eat at their desk etc.

 

Have you tried bulletproof coffee, or any version of it yet?  Or do you have a go-to breakfast that is as quick to make?  I’d love to hear what keeps you focused throughout the day, and especially if you’ve your own variation of the recipe above!

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How to keep fit on the road | The Daily Glow

How to keep fit while travelling

Keeping up any kind of fitness routine or healthy diet can be tough at the best of times (and as we roll towards Christmas – yes I said it, I know, where has the year gone – with dark mornings and evenings, it’s getting even tougher), but constant travel, be it for business or pleasure can really be the tipping point towards complete abandonment of all reason, and genuine self-persuasion that Netflix really is a healthier pastime.

As I mentioned on Monday, I’ve travelled a lot over the past few months with work, conferences and lectures (plus some fun thrown in, in between) and have been finding it difficult to maintain any kind of healthy or normal lifestyle – which has left me feeling tired, bloated and just not quite myself.  Exercise of some description is my go-to solution for most things – stress, insomnia, misbehaving skin, overindulgence and recovering after festivals and the like.  However, this is one of the hardest things to sustain while frequently on the move from one place to the next.  But where there’s a will, there’s a happy Jenny, so here are some things that I’ve found make it a bit easier for me.

 

Buy black runners
This one can sound a bit odd, but when space is at a premium, and black runners are somewhat respectable with work attire (and tend to go with pretty much anything), it makes it much easier to use the hotel gym if you actually have some decent runners – although fair play to dude I saw in full on work shoes on the treadmill in the Hilton.  Credit where credit is due, but I don’t fancy the shin splints myself.

How to keep fit on the road | The Daily Glow

Get yourself some bluetooth headphones
Oh-so-handy for general life,  especially for those of you who have an overstuffed handbag with spare protein bars, tissues, pens and highlighters and every charger known to mankind (…not guilty) and occasionally find it tricky to locate your phone, even when physically connected to headphones (RIP said headphones).  What they are particularly useful for though, is online workouts  or workout plans on your phone/laptop/iPad – you can look at the screen, while listening to music, without having to take it out of your armband every 5 seconds (once again, totally not me).  These don’t even have to be expensive – I got mine in Pennys for about €15.

How to keep fit on the road | The Daily Glow

When all else fails…
Get a massage! To be fair, I haven’t done this nearly as much as I would like, but it was the only option after a couple of nights sleeping on the ground (the actual ground, a last minute ticket to EP has its downsides), made me feel every single one of my 30 years.  Hips and back a mess – sitting on a flight or in work, not to mind driving,  was frighteningly uncomfortable – and an extended massage fixed everything, officially attaining a place on my go-to solutions list.  A sports massage of some sort is usually possible to track down in most hotels, and even some airports – so if you have a heavy few weeks of travel, try and book it in when you know you’ll be at you most tired.  Or if you really need sorting out when you get home, pay Eileen a visit – she honestly is amazing.

Balancing everything when your day-to-day life is a little all over the place is hard, and if you think you’ve got too much on your plate, have a read of this for some inspiration – it all depends on why you’re doing it, not what you’re doing.  I know if I don’t exercise and load up on sugar, not only do I feel totally awful, but I am nowhere near as capable of thinking clearly and focusing on the things I love to do.  If you push yourself hard, why do you do it?  And how do you fit it all in?  I’d love to hear how you do it.

How to keep fit on the road | The Daily Glow

The Daily Glow | Fat VS Sugar

Fat vs Sugar – who wins?

The Lancet is one of the most widely read medical journals in the world.  So when they published an article recently that appeared to endorse fats over carbohydrates to promote a healthy and longer life, a lot of people sat up and took notice.  The idea that fats are actually good for us, and that sugar is the true enemy, is an idea that has pervaded the “clean eating” community in recent years, has been mentioned in regular newspapers and magazines, and is espoused by notable figures like Dave Aspery and Tim Ferris, as the best way to superior physical and mental results. It can all get a little bit confusing though…it seems like there is a new superfood, or new “public enemy number one” every week, if tabloids and the media in general are to be believed without question.

My outlook on diet and health probably falls into the frequently advocated “80:20” rule (although I definitely don’t call it a rule in my head, and most certainly bend it when there’s craic to be had), however with the added caveat of “if it’s not going to make me feel better or healthier, I sure as hell want to enjoy it”.  What I mean by this, is that if I’m going to have sugar, I’ll eat my favourite chocolate/cake/dessert, but not waste it by eating a cereal bar (most of which contain 70% + sugar, and do not even begin to compare to a bar of Dairymilk).  If I eat a whole load of cr*p, I feel like a whole load of cr*p – so I categorically want to enjoy any sh*ite that makes me feel bad.  Fats vs sugar was a concept that interested me from the start (I’ve been following Dave Asprey for years now), and I’ve recently experimented with bulletproof coffee, and made a conscious effort to up my fat intake – mainly just out of curiosity, but also because I am weirdly obsessed with any food/exercise/technique that promises more efficiency and mental clarity or productivity (honestly, I can be fun too, I promise).

The Daily Glow | Fat VS Sugar

So is the jury still out, or has fat conquered sugar once and for all?

The Science

The current dietary guidelines, that recommend a low-fat diet and relatively high carbohydrate intake, are mainly based on findings studying European and North American populations.  This data is contradicted by many other studies that have been carried out to date, including the most recent Lancet publication. This latest article clearly shows an association between a high carb and low fat diet, and increased incidence of stroke, cardiovascular disease and general mortality – basically the opposite of the original studies completed in the 1950’s.  Higher fat consumption, even saturated fat, appears to improve health.  So it would seem science is increasingly moving to the fat side.

 

My Experience 

I always like to try things myself, rather than just blindly following the crowd (even if they are scientists with robust studies to back them up).  I haven’t fully adopted The Bulletproof Diet and certainly haven’t gone tee-total on grains and sugar, but I have noticed increased mental focus and a more balanced mood – particularly mid-afternoon, since introducing more fats and fishtails etc recommend in Head Strong: The Bulletproof Plan to Activate Untapped Brain Energy to Work Smarter and Think Faster-in Just Two Weeks.  I have noticed my stomach feeling less bloated, and my skin has improved.  Obviously you can over do pretty much anything, and my diet has never been particularly high in animal products (simply because I don’t like them) so it’s probably a more moderate increase in saturated fat than most people would create following the same guidelines.  Definitely, taking fat off the “naughty step” and consciously increasing my intake of it has been enjoyable (very important, if anything is too be sustainable!), I’ve noticed the above benefits – and I don’t feel like my favourite crème brûlée is quite so dangerous anymore.

The Daily Glow | Fat VS Sugar

Different things work for different people, and particular lifestyles etc, but I have found this change in mindset really works for me.  Someone with significant health issues should clearly discuss any major changes in diet with their doctor – and if you feel awful after making any changes, this may not be for you (light bulb moment).  What’s your take on fat vs sugar? I’d love to hear from you if you’ve tried bulletproof coffee, MCT oil or anything else.

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The Daily Glow | Running on empty?

3 ways to tackle burnout

After a very busy (and long) week, I found my motivation dwindling…which is unusual for me, I must admit.  Over the last year, as I’ve started to change the focus of my career, and “detoxed” various areas of my life, to make way for elements I truly love, I am generally excited about most things I do (even studying…I know, the epitome of cool – that’s me).  However, this week nearly had me beaten.  Don’t get me wrong, I had a really good week – very productive, stimulating and interesting, time with friends and family, and even a glass of wine.  But I collapsed on the couch with a takeaway on Saturday evening, and really couldn’t do anything for almost 24 hours…except think, and coincidentally read this interesting article by Jennifer O’Connell, all about the rising issue of burnout.

Many people these days wear working hard, and long hours like a badge of honour, boasting about how little sleep they’ve had.  I don’t think that I do that (obviously I’m a bit biased though – maybe it can come across like that occasionally?!), I generally find it easy to motivate myself in areas I genuinely find interesting – and simply throw myself into it, 100%.  On the other hand, being self-employed and having a tendency towards perfectionism (which really, outside of dentistry, can be more detrimental than anything else) is a relatively robust recipe for burnout in itself.  I had always thought of burnout as being related to a job you hate, or working conditions grinding you down (which definitely can be major contributing factors) – but reading Jennifer O’Connell’s article really gave me food for thought.  You really only have a certain amount of resources, such as energy, focus and drive – so even if you love what you do, there must be a limit that you can push yourself beyond, and end up with the same physical and emotional exhaustion that occurs in the typical burnout scenario.

The Daily Glow | Running on empty?

So, as always, what to do?  I’ve written before about dealing with stress, and how I have found meditation helpful…but what about right in the moment, when your beyond tired and can’t motivate yourself to do anything at all?  Sleep,  “relax”?  Unfortunately not the easiest answers when my mind won’t calm down – and not the most straight forward time to meditate either (when I say I couldn’t do anything for 24 hours, I really mean anything – even reading a book was difficult to focus on for any substantial amount of time).  There are a couple of things I found useful though, and hopefully you might too, should you ever find yourself feeling like you’re running on empty:

 

  1. Remove “should”, “must” and “try to” from your vocabulary for 24 hours

And the most important part of this is THE VOICE IN YOUR HEAD.  Give yourself 24 hours with no obligations, no to-do list and do exactly what you want.  If you find it hard to rationalise this, consider how unproductive and incompetent you are likely to be at any task you undertake in this state – so you really are better off delaying it for at least one day – and these hours are your recovery time, like after a workout.  If you want to lie on the couch in your pyjamas for 17 hours eating only Nutella, do; if you want to curl up in bed,  and not shower for the weekend, do (although you may regret that one when you wake in the morning), if you feel like you should be doing something, be it socialising, working, reading, going to the gym – let yourself off the hook.  The part that actually made this work for me, was having a time limit – I could let everything go as I knew I had some things scheduled the next day, and had a specific time when I would be facing reality again anyway.

The Daily Glow | Running on empty?

2.  Step away from social media

This can be pretty tough if you’re sitting on the couch, duvet and Nutella in hand, but no one around (I was lucky in this respect, I had a couch buddy!).  However, studies have shown that browsing mindlessly through social media is not good for your mood or self-confidence ( not to mind the hours that you can waste when you could be halfway through the second season of Gossip Girl or Narcos).  So , leave your phone in another room if you can (i know it’s not easy), find a movie or book that will absorb your fleeting attention and dig into the takeaway/chocolate/icecream.

 

3. Exercise – at the end

Yes, contrary to point one, above – this is not about a spinning class, or fitting in the workout you said you’d do.  It is simply to harness your body’s own mechanism for feeling better – endorphins.  I recommend doing this at the very end of your 24 hour vacation from reality.  Nope, not exactly what you feel like and really, really had to push myself into this one.  I resorted to a trick I used when I first started running – I promised myself I only had to run for 5 minutes, the necessary part was just getting out there.  and just like when I was a novice, and 15 minutes used to be tough, once I started, keeping going was much easier than starting (just like it is with anything).  The main effort involved is pretending to yourself that you honestly are only running around the block.  Likewise, you could organise to meet a friend or book yourself into an exercise class you like if you find that a better motivator.  But the endorphins work, every time.  Sweating, as I’ve mentioned before, is also fantastic for your skin – something definitely needed by the tired, translucent shadow I had turned into by Sunday.

Burnout is becoming far more common in our constantly “switched on” world, have you ever suffered from it or come close?  I’d love to hear anything that worked (or didn’t work) for you.

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The Daily Glow | The benefits of Turmeric

The Benefits of Turmeric

Following on from my last post, about how to ease aching muscles, I’m making myself feel even better about being sore post-exercise (and feeling old), by reading up about the inflammatory effects of too much exercise.  Yes…you read that correctly, exercise can cause inflammation, if you over do it – even though moderate exercise is widely touted for it’s healthy and anti-inflammatory benefits (especially the effect sweating can have on your skin).

The Daily Glow | Too much exercise can be inflammatory

Turmeric has come up again, and again as an anti-inflammatory.  Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric, and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-microbial actions, along with hypoglycaemic (decreasing blood sugar) and wound-healing properties.  Anti-cancer properties have also been found, with curcumin being shown to affect the same targets as chemotherapy in some studies.

Inflammation is a causative factor in countless diseases and conditions, and this study even recommends curcumin as a safe and cheap way to reduce symptoms of Crohn’s disease, along with conventional treatment.  Lack of sleep, too much sugar and just generally not taking care of yourself can lead to increased inflammation – so including turmeric in your diet can be an easy way to reduce it.

Turmeric is also a common ingredient in DIY face masks – its anti-inflammatory effects are great for calming down acne, while it also targets hyperpigmentation. You might want stick to buying face masks with turmeric in them though, as home made ones can leave you with a deep Essex glow (and from personal experience, it takes a while to fade – not the best beauty prep for an event or night out!).

The Daily Glow | The benefits of Turmeric

You can add it to curries and stir fries, but I drink it in a tea/hot water as I don’t get the chance to cook as often as I would like to.  I aim to take in 2 teaspoons a day, one in the morning and one at night, in warm water with honey and lemon, as turmeric by itself is not so palatable. I definitely recommend using a straw, unless you’re a fan of orange-tinged teeth.  Have you ever tried turmeric?  If you have any other ideas about how to add it to your diet, I’d love to hear them.

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The Daily Glow | Magnesium and Muscle Relaxation

Muscle relaxation and Magnesium

My muscles are currently burning, and it took me longer to get out of bed yesterday morning than I’d care to admit to – not surprising, considering over the past few days I tried crossfit for the first time, and ran a 4 mile mini marathon (plus the mile I had to run to the starting line due to a terrible combination of my embarrassingly bad sense of direction, with some poor timing).  DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness is a familiar feeling (if not name, that’s what that gradually worsening pain 1-2days after exercise is called) for anyone who’s started a new fitness regime or pushed themselves in a new physical endeavour.  And while yoga, stretching or foam-rolling can all help, there’s also a supplement that can encourage muscle relaxation – and bring some other benefits as well.

The Daily Glow | Magnesium and Muscle Relaxation

Triathletes, and all these other impressive serial exercisers, frequently profess the virtues of epsom salt baths…which are essentially magnesium.  This mineral is commonly deficient, but excellent for promoting muscle relaxation and sleep – both of which obviously enough support tired muscles.  But it’s not only this delayed onset muscle soreness that it can help, it can also:

  • reduce teeth grinding or clenching (bruxism) and sometimes the associated neck pain, due to it’s action on the main muscles involved
  • aid sleep – this study shows improvements in sleep time, sleep efficiency and an increase in melatonin levels in the body after 8 weeks of magnesium supplementation
  • reduce stress – lower serum cortisol (the stress hormone) levels have also been noted, which can be further helped with some lifestyle changes

The Daily Glow | Magnesium and Muscle Relaxation

Getting enough magnesium can be a bit tricky, as not only do you have to have a diet quite high in magnesium to begin with (something fruit and veg grown in increasingly mineral-depleted soil may be lacking), but additionally, you need sufficient levels of vitamins B6  and D, and selenium for your body to absorb it. Oh, and excess fat, caffeine and stress hinder this process.

The Daily Glow | Magnesium and Muscle Relaxation

Yeah so not quite as easy to get sufficient magnesium by mistake, especially if you’re stressed and living on caffeine.  But, taking a supplement in a form that is easily digested and absorbed by your body, at a separate time to your cup of jo, can make it a bit more straightforward.  I find 150-300mg magnesium citrate (from a reputable brand like Solgar, Viridians or most types stocked in health food stores) taken in the evening, separate to food, works well for me and most of my patients.  Most magnesium tablets are giant bullets, so the powdered form can be easier to take, or you can add it to a smoothie.

*** However, please note that magnesium can increase the effects of other muscle relaxant drugs (like Botox or Valium), so if you are on any medications, please check with your doctor before adding this supplement to your daily routine.  ***

 

Have you ever tried magnesium supplementation?

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