How to live longer: Household hobby linked to ‘positive wellbeing’ and a feeling of calm

Morning Live: Will Kirk opens up on how he deals with stress

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Groundbreaking research from the National Institute for Health and Welfare found that excess stress reduced the life expectancy of men more so than a lack of exercise, based on data of 30-year-old men. The study revealed that a lack of exercise strongly reduced the life expectancy of 30-year-old men by 2.4 years; meanwhile, excess stress shaved off 2.8 years. “The effects to the life expectancy of older people were similar but smaller than in younger age groups,” the scientists noted.

Cooking therapy expert Charlotte Hastings, a psychotherapeutic counsellor, commented on the benefits of cooking.

“When we give our full attention to making a meal, it is a truly embodied meditation that leaves us feeling refreshed, relaxed and ready for life,” Hastings explained.

“By focusing on chopping, stirring, mixing, feeding and pleasing ourselves… [it] builds a sense of purpose.”

Hastings added: “Our parasympathetic nervous system is also calmed and soothed due to the release of dopamine, which motivates and stimulates our neural pathways to repeat this rewarding task.”

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ENDOMETRIOSIS is when tissue, similar to that found in the uterus, grows elsewhere in the reproductive area. In similar vein, the tissue thickens and breaks down during each cycle. However, it may not be able to escape.

INTIMINA release awareness campaign for endometriosis

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Menstrual bleeding is the deposit of uterine tissue breaking down when the hormone progesterone begins to dip. In the Fallopian tubes, for example, if tissue builds and breaks down (an example of endometriosis), it becomes trapped. As such, trapped tissue can act as an irritant, thereby leading to the development of scar tissue and adhesions. One of the classic tell-tale signs of endometriosis is painful periods, also known as dysmenorrhea, the Mayo Clinic confirmed.


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“Pelvic pain and cramping may begin before and extend several days into a menstrual period,” the health site continued. “You may also have lower back and abdominal pain.”

Abdominal cramping is particularly common for menstruating women, so how can you tell the difference between pain caused by endometriosis and a regular period?

The Mayo Clinic answered: “Those with endometriosis typically describe menstrual pain that’s far worse than usual. Pain also may increase over time.”

During the menstrual period, a woman with endometriosis may experience pain during bowel movements and urination.

Delving further into the benefits of culinary therapy, Grubby – a plant-based recipe kit subscription service – put this to the test.

Grubby sent out plant-based meals to 17 volunteers who wore a Fitbit to monitor their heart rate before, during, and after cooking.

Afterwards, the participants filled out a survey to assess their emotional state while cooking.

Out of the respondents, 100 percent agreed that cooking had a “positive effect on wellbeing and mental health”.

The results also revealed that 93 percent of participants felt that cooking was “a helpful way to relax” and to detach from the working day.

Furthermore, 73 percent of participants agreed that cooking had “an overall calming effect on [their] mood”.

While 100 percent of the participants would recommend cooking to a friend to help them relax after work, there are other ways to destress.

The NHS stated: “If you’re stressed, whether by your job or something more personal, the first step to feeling better is to identify the cause.”

Building emotional strength, having a good social network, and adopting a positive attitude are all key factors in good stress management.

Speaking on behalf of the NHS was Professor Cary Cooper, an occupational health expert at the University of Lancaster.

Professor Cooper suggests exercise can help to “reduce some of the emotional intensity” one feels when feeling stressed.

Moving your body is a great way to clear the mind, enabling a person to tackle their problems more calmly.

Another key move is to “take control” of your situation. “That feeling of loss of control is one of the main causes of stress and lack of wellbeing,” he elaborated.

Tacking action is empowering, and is crucial in finding solutions to your stress-causing issues.

Professor Cooper also emphasised the power of connecting with colleagues, friends, and family – especially to have a laugh.

Other stress-busting activities include crafting solo time, setting goals, community work, and prioritising the “tasks that’ll make a real difference”.

Cooking therapy expert Charlotte Hastings is the founder of Therapy Kitchen.

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