Science behind Wellnessentially

All of our features are based on thorough scientific research, done by professionals. The research is published in peer reviewed journals.

We provide a summary of the research used in developing our features as well as links to the original work.

Use the table of contents to jump to a specific area you are interested in.

Table of contents:

  1. Breathing exercises
  2. Social Connection
  3. Sleep
  4. Pomodoro technique
  5. Workouts
  6. Hydration
  7. Gratitude journaling
  8. Vision relaxation
  9. Positive affirmations

Breathing exercises

The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults

Conducted between 2 groups, this study focused on a routine of breathing exercises. Both groups were evaluated before and after the exercises by completing tests that measured sustained attention and affect and also cortisol levels were monitored. The results showed significant reduction of the negative affect after the exercises, improved sustained attention and lower cortisol levels for the group that completed the routine.

Source

The role of deep breathing on stress

In this study, 38 students completed sessions of "Anti-stress Protocol" consisting of deep-breathing exercises for 90 minutes per week. The results showed an improvement in mood and stress both in self-reported evaluations and of objective measurable parameters such as heart rate and cortisol levels.

Source

Effectiveness of diaphragmatic breathing for reducing physiological and psychological stress in adults: a quantitative systematic review

This systematic review of previously done studies conducted on adults of 18 years and older focused on diaphragmatic breathing as a method for reducing stress. One of the studies showed improvements in biomarkers of respiratory rate and cortisol levels, another showed an improvement in blood pressure and the latter showed an improvement in the stress level measured by a psychometric test.

Source

Social connection

Metabolic adaptations to short-term high-intensity interval training: a little pain for a lot of gain?

Multiple conducted studies in relation with depression and mental well-being in recent years supported the idea that humans have a profound need of connection with others, and as a possible evolutionary trait, the need to belong in groups/tribes. The number of positive/negative social events correlated in most of these studies with the well-being of these individuals concluding that depressive symptoms are affected by both social rejection and social acceptance.

Source

Sleep

The Benefits of Slumber. Why You Need a Good Night's Sleep

Sleep is essential to every aspect of our body, modulating stress and growth hormones with great impact on the immune system, breathing, appetite, blood pressure and cardiovascular health. The studies available have shown that sleep deprivation can lead to increased risk of developing heart pathologies, infectious diseases and obesity. On a mentally level, a good sleep goes a long way, improving focus, productivity, reflexes, even mood, all of them leading to enhanced ability of reasoning, problem-solving and attention to detail.

Source

Workouts

Physical activity, exercise, depression and anxiety disorders

In this meta review of previous studies, the author checks the validity the work that started on exposing the benefits of physical exercise for any person's well-being. The effectiveness of these physical exercises in dealing with mild to moderate depression, anxiety, phobias, panic attacks and possibly even post-traumatic stress is significant. Furthermore, engaging in aerobic exercise increases brain chemicals that bear a resemblance to the ones from taking antidepressant and antianxiety medications

Source

Metabolic adaptations to short-term high-intensity interval training: a little pain for a lot of gain?

Current research in physical fitness has shown that contrary to the previous recommendation of "moderate to high" exercises at least 30 minute a day for keeping a healthy life, shorter bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by shorter periods of recovery have similar or equal benefits. One variation of a HIIT exercise that was used in a research paper showed, that just one minute of intense exercise followed by one minute of lower intensity one for a total period of 10 minutes showed beneficial results

Source
Yoga

In the studies reviewed, yoga activity seam to regulate stress level, anxiety and mental health status in most subjects. It is also currently discussed the role of yoga as an alternative therapeutic strategy in the management of mental disorders.

A study conducted in healthy men in the course of 6 months of regular yoga practice suggests that the routine has positive outcomes in matters of cognition and welfare for healthy individuals. The positive effects of yoga-based exercises used as an adjunctive therapy have been proven in subjects struggling with depression, also have been used as a useful tool in the anxiety spectrum, especially panic disorders.

Sources:
  1. Depression and Anxiety Disorders: Benefits of Exercise, Yoga, and Meditation
  2. Improvement in physiological and psychological parameters after 6 months of yoga practice
  3. Modern postural yoga as a mental health promoting tool: A systematic review
  4. A randomised comparative trial of yoga and relaxation to reduce stress and anxiety
  5. National survey of yoga practitioners: Mental and physical health benefits
Pilates

It has been demonstrated that subjects who integrated Pilates-based exercises in their workout routine shown an improved posture, dynamic balance, power of lower extremity muscles and flexibility, also there were positive effects on functional capacity, physical function and depression.

Sources:
  1. The effects of pilates on mental health outcomes: A meta-analysis of controlled trials Variables and the Depression Degree in Battered Women
  2. Pilates Exercises Influence on the Serotonin Hormone, Some Physical Variables and the Depression Degree in Battered Women
  3. The effects of Pilates-based exercise on dynamic balance in healthy adults
  4. Effect of pilates exercises on functional capacity, flexibility, fatigue, depression, and quality of life in female breast cancer patients: a randomized controlled study

Pomodoro technique

Based on the studies available, the Pomodoro technique proved to be an excellent instrument to increase productivity in the work field by generating positive tension (eustress), which plays a huge role in the decision-making process. The use of the Pomodoro Technique also led to a significant reduction of interruptions and distractions throughout the work process, which resulted in improved focus and continuity towards achieving your goals.

Sources:
  1. The Pomodoro Technique
  2. Strategies for Coping with Time-Related and Productivity Challenges of Young People with Learning Disabilities and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
  3. Stay focused and reduce stress while working from home, meeting virtually
  4. Improving Stress and Positive Mental Health at Work via an App-Based Intervention: A Large-Scale Multi-Center Randomized Control Trial

Hydration

In this study, 3327 adults were used to compare and measure the relationship between drinking water and their status of mental health. There were 3 groups, one measuring less than 2 glasses of water per day, one measuring 2 to 5 glasses of water per day and one that measured over 5 glasses of water per day. The results showed that the difference between the first group and the latter was almost double in measure of risk, and the group that consumed over 5 glasses of water per day showed significant improvements on the depression scale compared to the first, with a decreased prevalence of smoking and anxiety. A decreased volume of water intake seems to have been associated with reduced feelings of calmness, satisfaction and positive emotions.

Sources:
  1. Mild dehydration impairs cognitive performance and mood of men
  2. Drinking plain water is associated with decreased risk of depression and anxiety in adults: Results from a large cross-sectional study

Gratitude Journaling

Studies have shown that gratitude has various benefits for mental health, happiness and interpersonal relationships. Gratitude may benefit health through threat-reducing effects of support-giving.

Sources:
  1. Exploring neural mechanisms of the health benefits of gratitude in women: A randomized controlled trial
  2. Neural correlates of gratitude of depression and anxiety in adults: Results from a large cross-sectional study

Vision Relaxation

The American Optometric Association(AOA) defines computer vision syndrome (CVS) as a group of symptoms that appear after prolonged usage of computer. The most common symptoms associated with CVS are eye strain, dry eyes, sensation of burning or itchy eyes, redness, blurred vision and headaches.

According to AOA, prevention remains the main strategy in managing of computer vision syndrome. The preventive measures include environmental factor modification and proper eye care. Taking short breaks regularly and practicing vision relaxation exercises help to prevent or reduce the development of the symptoms associated with CVS.

A study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science shows that eye exercises improve eye fatigue in a group of 40 students, with 20 assigned to an exercise group and 20 assigned to a control group. The first group performed yogic eye exercises two days a week, for eight weeks, while the second group did not. It consisted of 8 exercises: palming, blinking, sideways viewing, rotational viewing, and near and distant viewing. At the end of the 8 weeks, the exercise-group measurements revealed a significantly decreased eye-fatigue score compared with that of the control group.

Sources:
  1. Understanding and Preventing Computer Vision Syndrome
  2. Computer vision syndrome
  3. Effects of yogic eye exercises on eye fatigue in undergraduate nursing students
  4. Digital Eye Strain

Positive Affirmations

Our thoughts impact how we feel and act. Having negative thoughts is a form of self-sabotage that affects our lives. Fortunately, we can use positive affirmations to reprogram our thinking patterns so that, over time, we can benefit from positive outcomes.

There is MRI evidence suggesting that practicing self-affirmation activates certain neural pathways. When we consider our personal values, there is observed increased neural activity in reward/valuation regions (ventral striatum+ventral medial prefrontal cortex). Areas associated with self-related information processing are also activated (medial prefrontal cortex + posterior cingulate cortex). A stronger sense of self-worth makes us more likely to improve our well-being.

Practicing positive affirmations may be an effective stress management approach. Self-affirmations improve problem solving abilities in underperforming chronically stressed individuals to the same level as those with low stress.

Sources:
  1. Using Affirmations - Harnessing Positive Thinking
  2. Self-affirmation activates brain systems associated with self-related processing and reward and is reinforced by future orientation
  3. Self-Affirmation Improves Problem-Solving under Stress
  4. The psychology of change: self-affirmation and social psychological intervention