Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How do you prevent a burnout?

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Nov 30 2010 7:53AM

"Now!" The boss shouts and stomps off. You blink. There was a time when you would have been on your toes, ready to do everything he asked for. Now, you don't care. You hate your job because you're overworked and underpaid. You hate your life because every day is a bad day. And you hate yourself because nothing you do makes a difference. Sounds familiar? You're on the road to burnout.

Crash and burn…
Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. You feel overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest or motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.

According to psychologists Herbert Freudenberger and Gail North, the burnout process can be divided into 12 phases, which are not necessarily followed sequentially:
  1. A compulsion to prove oneself
  2. Working harder
  3. Neglecting one's own needs
  4. Displacement of conflicts (the person does not realize the root cause of the distress)
  5. Revision of values (friends or hobbies are completely dismissed)
  6. Denial of emerging problems (cynicism and aggression become apparent)
  7. Withdrawal (reducing social contacts to a minimum, becoming walled off; alcohol or other substance abuse may occur)
  8. Behavioral changes become obvious to others
  9. Depersonalization (life becomes a series of mechanical functions)
  10. Inner emptiness
  11. Depression
  12. The Burnout syndrome characterised by loss of initiative, interest and efficiency, reduced work performance, insomnia, fatigue, frequent headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, depression, mood swings, irritability and frustration

Who is at risk?
While upper-level executives, housewives, students, academics, entrepreneurs, employees and doctors may all be at risk of burnouts, the incidence is higher in people with perfectionistic tendencies, pessimists, control-freaks who are reluctant to delegate to others and high-achievers.

Tips to prevent a breakdown
  • Relax: Rather jumping out of bed as soon as you wake up, spend 15 minutes meditating, writing in your journal, doing gentle stretches, or reading something that inspires you
  • Adopt: Eat right, engage in regular physical activity, and get plenty of rest to have the energy and resilience to deal with life’s challenges
  • Learn: To say “no” to requests on your time and say “yes” to the things that you truly want to do
  • Disconnect: Put away your laptop, turn off your phone, and stop checking email.
  • Get creative: Resume a favorite hobby or an activity that has nothing to do with work.
  • Learn: To manage stress

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

5 'feel good' foods for you!

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Nov 23, 2010

Wait! Don't reach out for that bag of chips just yet. You may be stressed but there are healthier options for you to help your mood. Try these:

Dark chocolate
Packed with antioxidants, dark chocolate lowers levels of catecholamines (adrenaline, noradrenaline), corticosterone, and the stress hormone cortisol. Eating just 40 grams of dark chocolate everyday can reduce risk of heart disease, relieve pain, lower blood pressure, and protect from skin cancer. Keep chocolate handy but don't have too much of it. Chocolate contains caffeine, which in high doses causes headaches, jittery nerves and irritates the stomach.

Looking for something to dig your teeth into when you are stressed? Crunch some almonds with those molars to get some aggression out. A good source of Vitamin B2 and E, as well as magnesium and zinc, almonds are high in unsaturated fat and vitamin E which fights off the free radicals associated with stress. Just a few almonds will keep your heart from racing when panic attacks. 

High in antioxidants and vitamins B2, B12 and D, as well as protein and calcium, a glass of warm milk is an ideal stress-buster. One to two glasses of milk a day can be a natural mood booster that can help a person to feel happier and more productive. Drinking a glass of hot milk before going to bed dwindles the effect of insomnia and ensures a calm and rested sleep. Choose fat-free milk over full fat milk so you do not overload your body with oils. 

Oranges and Lemons
Peel your way to the magic of vitamin C locked inside a juicy orange. Stress can deplete your vitamin C stores, preventing the efficient functioning of your immune system. Researchers from Montreal's Jewish General Hospital found that patients in a study experienced a significant and rapid improvement in their moods shortly after taking vitamin C. The vitamin plays a vital role in regulating the body's hormone levels, particularly those like Serotonin that affect mental and emotional well-being. 

One of the world’s healthiest foods, bananas contain tryptophan, an amino acid that the body converts into serotonin, the hormone that makes you cheerful. They also have carbohydrates to boost your energy and contain a lot of potassium that prevents cramps. Take two bananas a day to keep the doctor away.
Eating anything delicious stimulates the production of endorphins, making you happy and reducing pain. Take these foods in moderation for too much would mean unnecessary calories.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ginseng, the Root of Heaven

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on  Nov 20, 2010
Think of Chinese medicine and you think of ginseng. Described in 4000-year-old Shen Nung Pen Ts'ao Ching (The Book of Herbs by Shen Nung), the ginseng root is now finally getting the recognition it deserves as a healing herb.  Ginseng is characterized by the presence of active compounds called ginsenosides, a class of steroid glycosides, and triterpene saponins that work:

  • To vitalize, strengthen, and rejuvenate the entire body
  • As carminatives to prevent or relieve flatulence (gas in the gastrointestinal tract) and, in infants, help in the treatment of colic
  • As expectorants by promoting or facilitating the secretion or expulsion of phlegm, mucus, or other matter from the respiratory tract
  • As demulcents to relieve pain in inflamed or irritated mucous membranes
  • As stimulants and tonics that increase physiological activity
  • To stimulate as well as relaxes the nervous system
  • To promote the secretion of hormones
  • To enhance stamina
  • To lower blood sugar and cholesterol
  • To increase immunity against diseases
  • In the treatment of sexual dysfunction
  • In the treatment of debility by old age or illness, appetite loss, insomnia, stress,  and shock

Old remedy for new woes
In the West, ginseng is studied for a number of purposes, from treating stress to increasing levels of alertness and mental clarity. Ginseng is noted for being an adaptogen (a product that increases the body's resistance to stress) due to its anti-carcinogenic and anti-oxidant properties. It is often used in combination with other traditional Chinese herbs such as in Si Jun Zi Tang that has been shown to protect from harmful effects of radiation.
Is ginseng safe?
Ginseng, if used in correct dosages, has minimal side-effects. The most common are insomnia and nervousness, especially in people who take ginseng consistently in large dosages. Ginseng also appears to interfere with the action of blood-thinning drugs such as warfarin. A number of drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofin may be rendered ineffective or combine dangerously with ginseng.

Pregnant women should not take ginseng because the ginsenoside Rb1 it contains may harm the growing foetus. Consult your doctor before taking any herbal remedy.

Take the fizz out of your drink

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Nov 20, 2010

On the Yahoo! Answers forum, one Momo asks, "I am going to a party this Saturday and I am bartending as usual. What can I mix with Coca Cola to make something good?" A certain ThatoneDude responds, "Rum or Jack Daniels. I use rum more than Jack but they are both good." See, that's the problem with the internet. It brings two unhealthy things together and teaches you how to make a potent cocktail that can wreak havoc.

Mixing alcohol with soft drinks and energy drinks is commonplace now. Two things are better than one, we often think. Not quite, we find here:

Thirsty for more!
Like alcohol, soft drinks steal water from the body. They work like diuretics, taking away more water than they can provide to the body. To process the high levels of sugar in soft drinks the body needs to use a considerable amount of water. You need to drink 8-12 glasses of water for every one glass of soft drinks that you consume! What do you do instead? Drink more rum-and-Coke. Soft drinks and alcohol can never quench your thirst, certainly not your body's need for water. Constantly denying your body an adequate amount can lead to Chronic Cellular Dehydration. This, in turn, can lead to a weakened immune system and a plethora of diseases.

Slow digestion
Caffeine and high amounts of sugar in soft drinks virtually shut down the digestive process. That means your body is essentially taking in no nutrients from the food you may have just eaten. Alcohol also irritates the internal lining of esophagus, stomach and duodenum when consumed and can cause inflammation of the gastric mucosa and esophageal mucosa.

Acid test
Soft Drinks are extremely acidic, so much so that they can eat through the liner of an aluminum can. The body naturally exists at a pH of about 7.3. Soft Drinks have a pH of about 3.0. The body has to keep acidic elements as far away from the blood as possible to prevent the blood pH from dropping.  It does this by storing waste it cannot eliminate by urination and defecation. The acid waste is often stored in joints and organs, away from the circulatory vessels, and may result in diseases such as osteoporosis.

You may lose more than just your teeth if you guzzle down soft drinks. Still need to have a glass in hand during the party? Opt for the one of fresh fruit juice.

Happy Feet!

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Nov 20, 2010
An Egyptian wall painting of the Sixth Dynasty dating back to 2400 BCE found at Saqqara in the tomb of Ankhmahor (a ka-priest who tended to the tomb of his patron king) depicts two men working on the feet and hands of two other men. Another pictograph at the temple of Amon, Karnak dating back to Rameses II (1279-13 BCE) depicts a healer tending to the feet of foot soldiers at the battle of Qadesh.

Like papyrus, pottery and coffee, the ancient Egyptians did well to export their knowledge and practise of foot reflexology to India and China and from there to the rest of the world. An alternative therapy, reflexology involves application of pressure to the feet with fingers without the use of oil or lotion. Massaging and stimulating specific reflex points and nerve endings in the feet increases circulation so that oxygen and nutrients can be distributed throughout the body and the toxins can be flushed out.

In ancient times, reflexes were stimulated naturally by walking barefoot over rocks, stones and rough ground, or by using hands to climb, build or work. In today’s modern world, nature’s way of maintaining balance is lost. Reflexology helps restore this equilibrium and promotes vitality. It is believed to help in conditions such as:

Cancer: In cancer patients, massage, reflexology and acupressure are used as complementary therapies to traditional medical treatments to help decrease anxiety, pain intensity, nausea, vomiting and fatigue

Post-operative pain: Foot and hand massages given to post-operative patients have been found to reduce pain, heart rate and respiratory rate

Aging: Studies involving middle-aged women have shown that self-reflexology decreases depression, perceived stress, systolic blood pressure, and helps strengthen the immune system.

Menopause: Both reflexology and foot massage helped to decrease anxiety, depression, hot flashes and night sweats in women during menopause.

Headaches: A nationwide study undertaken in Denmark found that nearly 19 per cent of headache sufferers ceased taking medication following reflexology treatment.

Though reflexology is generally safe, there may be a few side-effects such as fatigue, headaches and increased sensitivity in the feet.

Consult with your physician before you take a reflexology course, especially if you suffer from epilepsy, diabetes, foot ulcers, gout, thyroid and circulatory problems.

Weight for your heart

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Nov 20, 2010

Pumping iron can actually help your heart. No longer the domain of the exclusive flex-and-pecs club at the gym, the fitness-conscious people in India are finally waking up to the benefits of moderate weight-lifting.

Reaping the benefits
Weight-lifting promotes resistance training, building muscles and discouraging fat build-ups in the body. Less fats in the body helps promote healthy heart function and reduces the risks to cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure, stroke, atherosclerosis, ischemia and fat embolism. These are conditions that primarily arise from or triggered by fatty deposits in the body that affect the heart functions.

Condition your heart, first
When done in the conventional manner, weight-training is unlikely to significantly condition the heart. Most people leisurely move between machines when weight-training, frequently stopping to rest between exercises. The key to conditioning the heart lies in circuit training where you quickly move from resistance exercise to resistance exercise without allowing the heart rate to drop significantly. This allows you to not only build muscle strength and tone, but also to condition the heart and burn more calories at the same time.

Monitor your BP

Weight-lifting can cause a temporary increase in blood pressure. This increase can be dramatic — depending on how much weight you lift. But, weight-lifting can also have long-term benefits to blood pressure that outweigh the risk of a temporary spike.

People with high blood pressure should consult their doctors before starting a weight-training programme.
If you have high blood pressure, do not hold your breath during exertion as it can cause dangerous spikes in blood pressure. Instead, breathe easily and continuously during each lift. Lift lighter weights more number of times. Heavier weights require more strain, which can cause a greater increase in blood pressure. Challenge your muscles with lighter weights by increasing the number of repetitions you lift. And listen to your body. Stop right away if you become severely out of breath or dizzy or if you experience chest pain or pressure.

Caution: Weight-training is not recommended if you have unstable coronary heart disease such as those with angina, congestive heart failure, severe pulmonary hypertension, severe symptomatic aortic stenosis, acute infection of the heart or tissues surrounding the heart, uncontrolled high blood pressure (more than 180/110 mmHg), aortic dissection and Marfan syndrome.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

T for Tulsi!

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Nov 9 2010 11:07AM
Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum), the sacred herb in Hindu Mythology, has been used for a variety of purposes from releasing positive energy in a house to protecting stored grains from insects and worms to remove pimple-marks from the skin. In an age when Aquaguard and reverse osmosis were non-existent, tulsi served as a natural water-purifier. Marked by its strong aroma and astringent taste, the Holy Basil is regarded in Ayurveda as a kind of "elixir of life" and believed to promote longevity.

One of the most popular ways of consuming tulsi is the antioxidant-rich, caffeine-free tulsi tea. The herbal brew’s adaptogens serve as powerful anti-stress agents that protect the body from a wide range of health concerns. The adaptogens guard against and deal with physical, chemical, environmental, and emotional factors that produce high levels of stress that compromise physical and mental health. The tea also helps:

  • Fight off damaging free radicals, which have been linked to disease and aging
  • Sharpen memory and improve concentration
  • Treat irritability
  • Promote calmness and clarity
  • Clear phlegm and ease the symptoms of cold, flu, cough and sore throat
  • Strengthen the stomach and in digestion and metabolism
  • Treat vomiting and nausea
  • Treat constipation
  • Strengthen the kidneys
  • Reduce blood cholesterol
  • Treat insomnia
  • Relieve joint inflammation and arthritis
How do you make tulsi tea?
Infuse the tulsi leaves in boiled water and let it steep for a couple of minutes. You may have it either hot or cold with a squirt of lemon. Iced Tulsi tea makes for a refreshing summer drink.
Although tulsi has many specific effects on different body systems, its main benefits arise from its ability to assist the body's natural healing processes. Some of the effects are quite immediate but others may develop gradually after weeks of regular use.
While there is scientific evidence that supports many of these health claims, additional research is needed to further substantiate medicinal impact and safety. Always consult with your doctor before using herbal treatments to address and support your healthcare needs.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Oh Brother!

Book: Empire of the Moghul: Brothers at War
Author: Alex Rutherford
Publisher: Headline Review
Pages: 436
Price: Rs 495
Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Mumbai Mirror on Monday, November 08, 2010 at 01:16:46 PM

After his epic tribute to Babur in the first book of the Empire of the Moghul series, Alex Rutherford comes up with another enthralling piece of historical fiction on Humayun, the second Moghul Emperor.

Like his father, little remains Humayun, other than the architectural gem of his tomb at Nizamuddin East in Delhi that was a precursor to the Taj Mahal. In fact, his bitter rival Sher Shah Suri (1486 - May 22, 1545) left more than just a mark as emperor and administrator, by building roads including the Grand Trunk Road that stretches 2,500 km from Landi Kotal, the highest point on the Khyber Pass in Pakistan across north India to Sonargaon in the Narayanganj District of Bangladesh and reviving the ancient city of Patna.

In Brothers at War, Rutherford tries to thread together pieces of Humayun's life as described by his half-sister Gulbadan in Humayunnama, his attendant Jauhar's records Tadhkirat al-Waqiat and Abul Fazl's famed Akbarnama. Having come to thrown after Babur's sudden death only five years after he had conquered Hindustan, Humayan starts off as a reluctant ruler, more familiar with the sun and stars than his courtiers and matters of the world. He finds solace in opium, wine and the pleasures of the haram (harem), while his half-brothers Kamran and Askari connive to snatch his throne. A great warrior himself, Humayun often fails as a strategist in battle and ends up losing his kingdom to Sher Shah and being driven to the borders of Baluchistan. From there, he attempts to regroup and like his father, makes his way through the mountains to conquer Kandahar then Kabul and finally, Delhi.

The book traces the transformation of Humayun from a brave warrior who chooses reconciliation to punishment only to be tricked by Kamran and Askari again and again to a man who chooses to lose a loyal brother to win the girl he loves, to a desperate father determined to get his son Akbar back from Kamran's clutches and finally a man who conquers all his lost lands to once again become the Emperor of India and secure his dynasty's destiny.

Though flawed, Humayun comes across as a man of honour. He keeps his promises while the others fail to keep theirs. He decides to keep aside the ancient Mongol code of takhtya ya takhta (throne or coffin) to fulfill the promise he made to his father to do nothing against his brothers however much they might have deserved it. At the risk of his courtiers baulking at his eccentricity, he even makes a humble water-carrier the Emperor of Hindustan for a day for saving his life during his first battle with Sher Shah.

 Rutherford highlights the stark similarities between the lives of Babur and Humayun. "Like his father, he had known youthful triumph and then suffered great reverses which had tested his resolve. Persian support and religious compromises it had demanded proved of less assistance to both than they had hoped. Like Babur, he had spent far more time in Kabul than he'd intended before seizing Hindustan."

While the book is suitably titled Brothers at War, it is not only about men and valour but also about the women of the harem. Rutherford describes the scheming Gulrukh who pushed Humayun towards opium-addiction to secure her son Kamran's destiny, the courageous Hamida who travelled with her husband on perilous journeys through the deserts of Rajasthan and Iran and the mountain passes of the Hindu Kush and Khanzada who ticked off Humayun for his excesses and became his voice of reason when he could not find his own. Had it not been for the steely resolve of Hamida, Khanzada and Gulbadan, Humayun would have had little chance of enduring the many failures he had.

Set in an age of magnificent savagery, Brothers at War is a tale of true heroism, faith and glory. Powerful, thought-provoking and emotional, it’s not a book you want to miss!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Valerian, for restful sleep

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on  Nov 4 2010 9:47AM

Once used in ancient Sweden by bridegrooms to ward off the envy of the elves and in Greece to cure digestive disorders, the valerian root (Tagara) is now a popular ingredient in many drugstore sleep remedies.
People use valerian to relieve anxiety, depression, and poor sleep, and also to ease menstrual and stomach cramps. Valerian has a mild calming effect that does not usually result in sleepiness the next day. 

Cure for insomnia
Valerian was first prescribed as cure for insomnia by prominent Roman physician Galen of Pergamon (129–199 AD). Since then, it has been widely believed to improve the quality of sleep and reduce the time needed to fall asleep, especially when taken nightly for four to six weeks.  
n spite of studies finding valerian ineffective as an alternative for benzodiazepines, valerian is used for sleeping disorders, restlessness and anxiety, and as a muscle relaxant. Valerian often seems only to work when taken over longer periods (several weeks), though many users find that it takes effect immediately.
Valerian does NOT interfere with sleep cycles or with restful REM sleep.
How is it used?
Valerian is sold as a dietary supplement and is available as an extract in powder or liquid form, as a dried herb in tea form, or in pills. As a sleep aid, it is most effective if you take it shortly before bedtime. People often use valerian in combination with other herbs, including St John's wort, passionflower, lemon balm, kava, and hops.

How much should you take?
The dosage of valerian may vary from one person to another depending on the condition being treated as well as the patient’s response to the therapy. A number of people take 300 mg to 500 mg of valerian root extracts in the form of tablets or capsules an hour before going to bed to treat insomnia or sleep disorders.

Is it safe?
Side-effects from valerian are rare but can include mild headache or stomach upset, abnormal heartbeats, and insomnia. Because of its calming effect, you should not take it at the same time as other calming medicines or antidepressants (or do so only under medical supervision). You also should not take valerian if you will be driving or need to be alert. It is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding. Consult with your doctor before trying a valerian product.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's fowl!

Gaggles of geese and solitary cranes dot the fields and wetlands of Kheda and Anand districts in Gujarat

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Mumbai Mirror on Wednesday, November 03, 2010 at 12:11:01 PM

"Pariej?" The chaiwallah at Tarapur chowk sleepily shakes his head. It's 6am. Our Gujarati driver makes another attempt. "Pariyaj?". "That way," the chaiwala points to his right. In spite of excellent roads and very warm locals, getting around rural Gujarat can be difficult for everything rests on pronunciation. You may actually end up in another part of the state if you get the name wrong. And if that's not enough, adjacent districts have towns and villages bearing the same names! But then if you have to go bird-watching around Gujarat's wetlands, you have to be patient and keep searching.

Strategically located between two avian migratory routes, one from Central and North Asia to East Africa and another from the Middle East and Europe to peninsular India, Gujarat is a bottleneck for migratory birds. The monsoon rains replenish water bodies and regenerate grasslands, creating perfect habitats for avifauna. Gujarat’s wetlands are also used for irrigation and aquaculture of prawns, providing waterfowl with plenty of crustaceans, fish, algae and zooplankton for the winter months. Around 1.3 million migratory waterfowl visit Gujarat’s 1,419 wetlands every year.

Pariej (Pariyaj) Wetlands
Pariej: Bird watchers' paradise (Pics: Eisha Sarkar)

A huge gate welcomes you to the 'Pariej Wetland Bird Watchers Paradise' in Matar taluka in Kheda district. Pariej is one of the eight wetlands in Gujarat that has been declared by the Central Government as wetland of national importance. Located 80 km from Vadodara and 8 km from Tarapur on the Vadodara-Rajkot highway, Pariej boasts of around 60 species of birds. The 445 ha water storage reservoir that fulfils the drinking water requirement for 52 surrounding villages is almost dry, creating a marsh fringed with lotuses and weeds. The "Observation Post" is marked with pictures of different types of cranes, flamingoes and ducks you are likely to find here. A skein of noisy black geese flies overhead. In the distance you see white and grey spots – pelicans, storks, cranes, gulls, terns, waders, redshanks, sandpipers, spoonbills, coots, grebes, cormorants, ibises and egrets.

To serious birders, Pariej offers a great chance to see and find new feathered friends. Tents are available for camping. For better accommodation, you will have to go to Tarapur (8 km) or Nadiad (45 km)

This tiny village in Anand district is erroneously marked next to a huge reservoir on the Gujarat map. The small water-channels and pools near the village host several species of birds including Sarus Crane, statue-like egrets and pelicans, black cormorants drying their wings, gaggles of geese and solitary grebes, cranes and storks.

Black Cormorant
Kanewal Lake
The Tarapur-Khambhat Road is lined with irrigated paddy fields that host several species such as Sarus Crane, Black Ibis, egrets, kingfishers, storks, all sharing their space with terrestrial mynas, drongos, flycatchers, pigeons and woodpeckers. Post-monsoon, the 625 ha-Villa Kanewal Lake is another marsh that hosts Dalmatian Pelicans, Red-crested Pochards, Sarus cranes, storks, sandpipers and Demoiselle Cranes. There is no accommodation available at this site.

Birds are biological indicators
The presence or absence of birds tends to represent conditions pertaining to the proper functioning of an ecosystem. “There are annual variations in total number of birds counted on each wetland. I have been monitoring the annual counts since 1987. The water depth at both Pariej and Kanewal keep on varying as the water is supplied for irrigation as well as drinking purpose. This makes a lot of difference in species composition and bird abundance,” says Dr Bhavbhuti Parasharya, who is an ornithologist at the Anand Agricultural University, Anand. 

Conservation is the key
While Gujarat’s wetlands have potential to turn eco-tourism into a major industry, conservation of wetlands is important. Though both Pariej and Kanewal reservoirs host at least 20,000 birds every year that qualify for Wetlands of International Importance, as per the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, 1971, neither has been identified as protected area. Dr Anika Tere of the Department of Zoology, M S University of Baroda, says, “While tourism will help people know about birds and create awareness about such ecosystems, the government and forest department should take care of their maintenance. As scientists we can only devise and demonstrate various conservation strategies, but we can't stop people from throwing plastic bags everywhere," she adds.

Sarus Crane
Getting there:
Pariej is 15 km north-west of Tarapur on the Vadodara-Rajkot highway. Kanewal is 6 km from Padra village on Tarapur-Bagodara road. Kanavad is 15 km from Jinach village on the Tarapur-Khambhat road. While you get buses to Tarapur from Vadodara, you may have to make your own arrangements or hire an auto or jeep from Tarapur to Pariej. Vadodara is well-connected to Mumbai by road and rail.

Birdwatching tips
  •   The best time for birdwatching is early morning and evening. Migratory birds are seen mainly from October to March
  • Wear clothes in earthy shades to blend with the surroundings
  • Do not get too close to the birds and disturb them
  • Carry binoculars and cameras with powerful zoom lenses
  • Carry a birdwatching guide to help identify the birds

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Video games make for good brain food

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Nov 2 2010 9:26AM

Eye-strain, insomnia laptop burns, seizures, chronic addiction and a contributing factor to obesity - from a harmless hobby, video gaming has now become a health hazard. Most of the bad effects of video games are blamed on the violence they contain.  Children who play more violent video games are more likely to have increased aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. But the much-maligned sport (if we may call it that) can actually help improve your coordination, decision-making skills and even memory. How? Read on...

Faster fingers, sharper minds

Research has shown that people who play action video games have faster reaction times than those who don't play the games. Action video games typically refer to "shooter games, where you go through a maze and you don't know when a villain will appear. Cognitive neuroscientists at the University of Rochester in New York have now found that action gamers apparently are better at making quick and accurate decisions, ones based on details they extract from their surroundings.

Better hand-eye coordination
Certain games can improve hand-eye coordination, intelligence and problem solving for example, the city-building simulation game, Sim City, where players learn the basic functions of cities and how to solve problems in an efficient manner. Video may have killed the audio star but games such as Rock Band and Guitar Hero help improve aptitude even though you're not learning how to play an actual instrument you commit to memory pitch, tempo, speed and advance each time. Research also suggests that you can learn spatial and visual attention skills from video games.

Games boost memory

Video games are an often overlooked source of improving memory. Games that use planning and strategy such as Total War and Sudoku improve memory performance and intelligence. The Alzheimer's Association recommends puzzles as therapy because some studies have suggested they might improve memory, attention and problem solving while staving off mental decline and, perhaps, reducing the risk of the disease altogether.

Pick games that require you to come up with strategies, and make decisions in a game environment that are more complex than punching, stealing, and killing. However, gaming can become extremely addictive and playing video games 24 hours a day, seven days a week, will do more damage to your brain that you think.  Small doses go a long way.