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34 Surprisingly Delicious High-Protein Smoothie Recipes

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Even Optimists Tend to Expect the Worst

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Even if you consider yourself to be pretty upbeat, it’s easy to get caught up in feelings of dread as you wait to hear about uncertain news. As the moment of truth draws nearer, people often find themselves increasingly convinced that bad results are ahead.

These emotions may feel stressful and unhealthy, but a new study suggests they’re totally normal. In fact, this instinct to brace for the worst can actually be protective and serve as a buffer against potentially bad news, say researchers from the University of California Riverside.

In previous studies, it’s been recognized that, as individuals wait for their respective results, students become increasingly convinced they’ve failed an exam, patients become increasingly convinced they have a terrible disease, and voters become increasingly convinced that their candidate will lose an election.

RELATED: Optimism Can Help You Live Longer

Kate Sweeny, Ph.D., a psychology professor at UC Riverside, wanted to see if this was true of optimists and pessimists alike. “Intuition might suggest that some people are more likely to brace than others,” Sweeny said in a press release. “In particular, happy-go-lucky optimists would seem immune to the anxiety and second-guessing that typically arise as the decisive moment draws near.”

So she and her co-author performed nine different experiments in their lab and in real-life settings. Some involved college students anticipating rankings of their attractiveness from peers, for example, while others involved law-school graduates awaiting the results of their bar exams. All participants answered questions beforehand to determine their natural disposition.

The researchers’ findings, published in the Journal of Personality, were “counter to intuition,” Sweeny said. “Optimists were not immune to feeling a rise in pessimism at the moment of truth. In fact, not a single study showed a difference between optimists and pessimists in their tendency to brace for the worst.”

RELATED: Happy People Make Their Spouses Happier

There was a difference, unsurprisingly, in overall predictions: Optimists started out with more positive expectations than pessimists. But everyone in the study tended to shift those expectations downward over time.

This may be because not getting one’s hopes up can be a natural defense. “If you expect the worst, you can lessen feelings of shock and disappointment if things don’t go as you hoped,” Sweeny told RealSimple.com, “and you’ll be pleasantly surprised if they do.”

So if you feel down right before a big announcement, Sweeny says you shouldn’t necessarily fight those feelings. Rather, she says, we should all try to be more like the optimists in this study, and save our pessimism for these strategic moments.

“It’s generally good to be optimistic about the future,” she says. “Optimists are happier and healthier in lots of different ways, and it’s true that worrying too much or for too long can lead to anxiety and rumination. But in these final moments before you get big news, optimism can be really treacherous.”

In other words, she says, making sure you’ve done everything you can to ensure your chances of success—and then putting off your worries until those final moments—may be the best balance you can strike. And if you do feel like the world’s about to end while you wait, take heart in knowing that that’s normal, too.

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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4 Surprising Reasons to Drink Hot Water With Lemon Every Morning

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Trying to cut coffee out of your morning? A cup of hot water with fresh lemon juice is an ideal alternative that many nutritionists drink every day — and it’s not just because of its tangy flavor! Here are four compelling reasons to make this quick concoction part of your morning ritual.

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It helps you detox every day: While lemons may seem quite acidic, they’re a surprisingly good source of an alkaline food that can help balance your body’s pH; internist and doctor of integrative medicine Dr. Frank Lipman is a big proponent of a hot water with lemon habit, since the combination wakes up your liver and flushes out nasty toxins.
It wakes up your digestive tract: This simple yet powerful beverage stimulates your gastrointestinal tract — improving your body’s ability to absorb nutrients all day and helping food pass through your system with ease.
It supports weight loss: Lemon juice contains pectin, a soluble fiber that has been shown to aid in weight-loss struggles. And if you’ve been sipping on a cup of tea loaded with sugar or honey every morning, this beverage will slash calories from your daily diet.
It soothes an upset tummy: When you go to bed on a full stomach, pesky heartburn or a bloated belly can get in the way of your morning. Hot water cleanses your system, while the flavonoids from lemon juice may help reduce acidity in your stomach, so you feel like yourself sooner.

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What It's Like To Meditate with Deepak Chopra

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I’m not one for meditating. It’s not that I don’t believe in the virtues and benefits of the practice, but my mind tends to wander and instead of coming out of a session feeling zen, I instead emerge worried about my next deadline or the mysterious cough my 4-year-old daughter might have. Oh, and I’m eight months pregnant, so I feel my little girl kicking me pretty much constantly.

But when alternative medicine advocate and meditation guru Dr. Deepak Chopra organizes a small group, 20-minute meditation, it’s an opportunity not to be missed. Such was the case at Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference in San Diego, where on Tuesday, Chopra led a meditation for the conference’s two-hundred plus attendees.

Meditation has increasingly become a booming business. In 2015, the meditation and mindfulness industry raked in nearly $1 billion, according to research by IBISWorld, which breaks out the category from the alternative health care sector. There’s also revenue collected from the growing number of mindfulness apps, like Calm.com and Headspace.

Here’s what the Chopra experience was like:

Chopra first instructed the group to relax their stance and close their eyes with their palms open. He then asked the group to start paying attention to their breathing, and told the group that if their mind wandered that was ok, and to be bring it back to the present.

Chopra then asked the group to ask themselves a series of questions, including: “Who am I?” and “What is my purpose?”

He asked the audience to try to listen to their heartbeat, and see if they could feel the energy of it in their fingertips.

Chopra also asked the group to repeat their name to themselves, starting with their full name and then shortening it to their first name. And he called on the crowd to say a silent mantra to themselves.

Lastly, he told the group to slowly open their eyes.

I’m surely missing some of the moments—because at times, I felt like I was meditating. Twenty minutes felt more like five, and I returned to the present feeling surprisingly rested. And ready to tackle the deadline for this article.

 

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

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5 reasons why smoothies are good for you

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Shakes and smoothies have become synonymous with weight loss, but there’s a fine line between detox and dessert. Nutritionist Lucinda Zammit helps us uncover 5 liquid meal myths.

1. Liquid meals contain fewer calories than solid food

It’s surprisingly easy to ‘overeat’ when you’re liquefying your food. While you’d struggle to scarf six bananas, the same quantity of fruit blends to a deceptively small smoothie. Rather than throwing ingredients in a blender ad libitum, measure ingredients beforehand in accordance with what you’d reasonably eat if you sat down to a solid meal. Tip: mix you choice of milk 50:50 with some chilled water, you won’t taste the difference but it will help with your calorie intake.

2. They are better for you

The health credentials of liquid meals ranges from uber-healthy to little better than a burger. Without added flavour, wholefood smoothies can be bland, so they often get a kick along from additives such as honey or nut butter. While a small amount is fine, a liberal serve can turn a healthy liquid meal into a glorified thickshake. 

3. They keep you fuller for longer

Satiety is primarily determined by a meal’s effect on both blood sugar and gastric emptying. Generally, protein is the most satiating macronutrient while fat slows gastric emptying, prolonging satiety. Fibre slows glucose release into the bloodstream, averting the sudden hunger that occurs when insulin sweeps sugar from the bloodstream after a high-GI hit. Tick these boxes, and a liquid meal can be just as filling as a solid meal. Conversely, a drink devoid of protein and fibre and fat can leave you as hungry as you were despite having consumed the calorie equivalent of a full breakfast. Try nut butter, an egg or some good quality protein powder. For savoury liquid meals, steamed and cooled shredded chicken or beef and steamed and cooled sweet potato or pumpkin can serve as protein and fibre sources. 

4. You need to use fruit  

While fruit is the go-to wholefood for blended meals, vegies are worthy contenders – even for sweet smoothies. Using a blender ensures that vegies’ nutrients are kept intact – unlike with juicing. Smoothie-friendly vegies include spinach, kale, cos lettuce and watercress. Superfood powders such as spirulina, maca powder or a greens powder are another way to add nutrients to a liquid meal.

5. You need to eat food 

Just because it’s in liquid form doesn’t mean a meal can’t be balanced. If you don’t have time to sit down for breakfast, throw the ingredients you’d usually serve in a bowl in the blender – think raw oats (carbs), milk (calcium and protein), berries (antioxidants) and cinnamon. For protein, you can add yoghurt and protein powder. Tip: Blend brekkie the night before, place in a jar or bottle with a secure lid and leave in the fridge. In the morning, shake and drink. You can even add a teaspoon of coffee.

Check out these delicious, super healthy smoothie recipes today.

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How Looking at Selfies Affects Your Happiness

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Love them or hate them, selfies have become a staple of social-media culture. Now a new study suggests that the ubiquitous smartphone self portraits don’t just have psychological implications for the people taking them; they can also have a real impact on their friends and followers, as well.

According to Penn State University researchers, viewing frequent selfies is linked to a decrease in self-esteem and life satisfaction. Their findings come from an online survey of 225 social media users with an average age of 33, 80 percent of whom were active on Facebook. The participants also used sites like Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Tumblr, and Tinder.  

We tend to compare ourselves to others when we see these photos—often carefully curated photos—the authors wrote about their findings, which can lead to feelings of loneliness, exclusion, or disappointment with our own lives.

Somewhat surprisingly, the researchers did not find any connection between posting frequency and self-esteem or life satisfaction. (Other research, however, has suggested that the quest for the perfect photo can seriously undermine real-life happiness.)

In this study, viewing behavior seemed to be more important: The more people were exposed to selfies from other people, the lower their levels of self-esteem and life satisfaction. 

"People usually post selfies when they're happy or having fun," said co-author and mass communications graduate student Ruoxu Wang, in a press release. "This makes it easy for someone else to look at these pictures and think … his or her life is not as great as theirs."

When the researchers broke their results down based on personality traits, they did find one exception. People who expressed a strong desire to appear popular actually got self-esteem and life-satisfaction boosts from viewing selfies. Doing so may somehow satisfy their need for popularity, the researchers say, although the reason why isn’t entirely clear.

The study results also found a difference between selfies and “groupies,” or selfie-style pictures featuring more than one person. On average, looking at groupies seemed to improve self-esteem and life satisfaction for participants. That’s probably because the viewers themselves may be included in these groupies, the authors wrote, strengthening their sense of community and inclusion.

This research is important, says co-author and mass communications graduate student Ruoxu Wang, because it examines a lesser-understood angle of social-media culture. "Most of the research done on social network sites looks at the motivation for posting and liking content, but we're now starting to look at the effect of viewing behavior," said Wang in a press release.

And the findings suggest that even just “lurking”—the act of observing what others post on social media, rather than “liking” posts or contributing content of one’s own—can have a real effect on how people view themselves.

The authors hope that their study, which was published online in the Journal of Telematics and Informatics, can raise awareness among social-media users about how their posts might affect others in their network.

"We don't often think about how what we post affects the people around us," said co-author and graduate student Fan Yang. "I think this study can help people understand the potential consequences of their posting behavior.” Yang adds that it may also help counselors working with young adults feeling lonely, unpopular, or unsatisfied with their lives.

 

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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What Being Expected to Check Email After Work Does to Your Health

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Employees who feel obligated to check work email during non-work hours are at risk of emotional exhaustion, according to a study being presented next week at the Academy of Management annual meeting.

What’s more, companies don’t have to formally require workers to check in to create this effect; the expectation can simply be implied by workplace culture. (Tell that to your boss next time she says no one’s “forcing you” to log on from vacation!)

Common causes of job stress, such as high workload and interpersonal conflicts, have been well documented in previous research. But the authors of this new study—from Lehigh, Virginia Tech, and Colorado State universities—say theirs is the first to identify email-related expectations as a job stressor.

Other studies have shown, however, that employees must be able to detach from work—both mentally and physically—in order to restore their resources and avoid burnout. And, of course, it’s no secret that continuous connectivity prevents that kind of detachment from happening.

“Email is notoriously known to be the impediment of the recovery process,” the authors write. “Its accessibility contributes to experience of work overload since it allows employees to engage in work as if they never left the workspace.”

To test this hypothesis, they surveyed nearly 400 working adults in several different industries, including finance and banking, technology, and health care. Participants were asked about how much time they spent on email outside of the office, the expectations of their employers, and other factors.

Surprisingly, the actual amount of time people spent on email didn't affect their emotional exhaustion levels or work-family balance as much as their beliefs about what was expected of them did. For many people, these beliefs created a constant state of anxiety and uncertainty—referred to as “anticipatory stress”—regardless of how often they actually checked in.

Employers should take note of the new research. “If an organization perpetuates the ‘always on’ culture it may prevent employees from fully disengaging from work eventually leading to chronic stress,” Liuba Belkin, associate professor of management at Lehigh’s College of Business and Economics and coauthor of the study, said in a press release.

Plenty of previous research shows that displeasure with work-life balance can also lead to anxiety, depression, absenteeism, and decreased job productivity. “Even though in the short run being ‘always on’ may seem like a good idea because it increases productivity, it can be dangerous in the long-run,” Belkin said.

If banning email after work isn’t a practical option for companies, Belkin suggests that managers implement weekly “email-free days” or institute a rotating schedule for employees to be on-call (or on-email) after hours.

But that’s not all. To really benefit employees, the authors suggest, companies have to truly follow through with these policies—not just say that they exist. In other words, we need to feel secure that our bosses truly value work-family balance, and that it’s okay to unplug for the evening or the weekend.

 

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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The Best Stress Buster You're Currently Not Using

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If you've ever spent some time doodling with crayons or sculpting a lump of Play-Doh and emerged feeling refreshed and relaxed, science may have an explanation. Researchers found that levels of the stress hormone cortisol (which normally spikes during the fight-or-flight response) went down in a group of 39 volunteers who drew with markers, made collages, or played with clay for 45 minutes.

Although this study, published in Art Therapy, was done in healthy adults, it confirms what Lindsay Aaron sees all the time in cancer patients: "This is a very science-focused study but it's something you see on the outside of the individual, in body language, the emotional state, behavior," says Aaron, a healing arts therapist at Montefiore Health System in New York City. "We're being able to understand what goes on in the neurology."  

Much of the research thus far has been done in people suffering from different health conditions, and usually with much more defined tasks, such as painting a single tile. This study is the first to look at more freewheeling creative expression in healthy people.

RELATED: Pamper Yourself! 8 Natural Stress Relievers

Researchers took saliva samples from 33 women and six men aged 18 to 59 before and after 45-minute sessions with an art therapist, who was present to provide any assistance needed.​ Levels of cortisol in the saliva tend to mirror those in the blood, so are a good measure of how stressed you are.  

The participants were given no specific instructions other than to make anything they wanted with paper, markers, modeling clay, and collage materials. Some made collages out of magazine pages, some made small clay sculptures, and some combined clay, scribbles, and words cut out of newspapers. About half of the participants had little experience making art.

Cortisol levels went down in 75% of participants over the course of a session. Surprisingly, the remaining 25% had higher levels of cortisol than when they started, something the researchers are still trying to understand. It could be that the art led to new learning or self awareness, which raised stress levels. When asked to write about the experience, participants who said they had learned about themselves during the exercise were slightly more likely to have elevated cortisol levels. 

The study included no control group, which means the researchers don't know if the changes in cortisol levels were due to making art or to some other factor, like hanging out with other people, says study lead author Girija Kaimal, assistant professor of creative arts therapies at Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions in Philadelphia. 

RELATED: 25 Surprising Ways Stress Affects Your Health

It's possible that cortisol levels would decrease after an hour of watching TV as well, points out James W. Pennebaker, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. Pennebaker has done numerous studies linking expressive writing with better heath and lower stress levels.

That said, "The findings are certainly consistent with the idea that self-expression can reduce stress and improve health," Pennebaker added.

Art serves two purposes at least, according to Kaimal. "It helps us express things that we don't often have words for but are deeply felt and experienced," she says. "Second, it helps us communicate to others this inner state, and when you communicate, you can build relationships. You are really communicating 'This is who I am and where I am.'"

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