Saturday, January 10, 2009

STRESS - Manage your stress,Measure your stress, and Reduce your stress


WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU ARE STRESSED?


Stress is what you feel when you have to handle more than you are used to. When you are stressed, your body responds as though you are in danger. It makes hormones that speed up your heart, make you breathe faster, and give you a burst of energy. This is called the fight-or-flight stress response.
Some stress is normal and even useful. It can help if you need to work hard or react quickly. For example, it can help you win a race or finish an important job on time.
But if stress happens too often or lasts too long, it can have bad effects. It can be linked to headaches, an upset stomach, back pain, or trouble sleeping. It can weaken your immune system, making it harder to fight off disease. If you already have a health problem, stress may make it worse. It can make you moody, tense, or depressed. Your relationships may suffer, and you may not do well at work or school.
What can you do about stress?

The good news is that you can learn ways to manage stress. To get stress under control:

* Find out what is causing stress in your life.

* Look for ways to reduce the amount of stress in your life.

* Learn healthy ways to relieve stress.

How do you figure out your stress level?

Sometimes it is clear where stress is coming from. You can count on stress during a major life change such as the death of a loved one, getting married, or having a baby. But other times it may not be so clear why you feel stressed.
It may help to keep a stress journal. Get a notebook and write down when something makes you feel stressed. Then write how you reacted and what you did to deal with the stress. Keeping a stress journal can help you find out what is causing your stress and how much stress you feel. Then you can take steps to reduce the stress or handle it better.

How can you reduce your stress?

Stress is a fact of life for most people. You may not be able to get rid of stress, but you can look for ways to lower it.
Try some of these ideas:

* Learn better ways to manage your time. You may get more done with less stress if you make a schedule. Think about which things are most important, and do those first.

* Find better ways to cope. Look at how you have been dealing with stress. Be honest about what works and what does not. Think about other things that might work better.
Take good care of yourself. Get plenty of rest. Eat well. Do not smoke. Limit how much alcohol you drink.

* Try out new ways of thinking. When you find yourself starting to worry, try to stop the thoughts. Work on letting go of things you cannot change. Learn to say "no."

* Ask for help.People who have a strong network of family and friends manage stress better.

* Sometimes stress is just too much to handle alone. It can help to talk to a friend or family member, but you may also want to see a counselor.


How can you relieve stress?

You will feel better if you can find ways to get stress out of your system. The best ways to relieve stress are different for each person. Try some of these ideas to see which ones work for you:

* Exercise. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to manage stress. Walking is a great way to get started.

* Write. It can help to write about the things that are bothering you.
Let your feelings out. Talk, laugh, cry, and express anger when you need to.
Do something you enjoy. A hobby can help you relax. Volunteer work or work that helps others can be a great stress reliever.

* Learn ways to relax your body. This can include breathing exercises, muscle relaxation exercises, massage, aromatherapy, yoga, or relaxing exercises like tai chi and qi gong.

* Focus on the present. Try meditation, imagery exercises, or self-hypnosis. Listen to relaxing music. Try to look for the humor in life. Laughter really can be the best medicine.



MANAGING STRESS DURING ROUGH TIMES


With news headlines all around us announcing economic changes for the worse, a lot of us are beginning to feel the twist of anxiety. When this stress response comes, the neurochemicals in our brain are thrown off balance.
Sustained periods of stress will affect your brain, leading to chemical imbalance. It will interfere with your memory, focus and concentration, making you feel agitated and unable to calm down. It is crucial for brain health and overall peace of mind that you learn to control your anxiety effectively. Read on to learn the ways to quell your anxiety and relax. As always, if you are undergoing serious anxiety, consult a healthcare professional.

1. Health in Mind = Health in Body
The average person has 60,000 thoughts a day, and nearly 80 percent of them are negative. Imagine what this is doing to your body! This negativity affects your thought patterns and behaviors subconsciously, and this has an unhealthy impact on your body.
Reframe the way you say things to yourself. You can actually change the response to anxiety with repeated affirmations, which will introduce a new positive pattern behavior in your thinking. Instead of being anxious, give empowering messages to yourself: I am strong, I am grateful, I can get through this. Repeat these positive affirmations throughout your day to transform the stress and change your attitude.

2. Cut Back on Stimulants
Stress, anxiety, insomnia, and a racing mind are byproducts of taking in too much caffeine, the central nervous system stimulator that works against your attempts to relax the body and calm the mind. To start, try cutting back for just week to see how fewer stimulants affect your overall stress level. Switch to decaf coffee, or better yet, drink herbal tea. Also, cut out sodas and other drinks that are packed with stimulants.

3. Deep Breathing Calms Anxiety
If you are in a stressful situation, you may have noticed that you breath very shallowly, up in your throat area. Unfortunately, many adults breathe this way all the time; somewhere along the way, we stopped breathing abdominally, as we did when we were babies. This habitual shallow breathing mimics the bodily actions of stress, which can actually induce your body to feel anxiety.

When you learn to breathe deeply all day - by breathing from your diaphragm - you will reduce general anxiety and gain other proven benefits, such as lowered blood pressure and heart rate. Also, it is estimated that 70 percent of the toxins and wastes in our bodies are eliminated through respiratory breathing. So start deep breathing!
Here's how: Make it part of your every day schedule to practice 20-30 minutes of deep breathing every day, and your body will respond by being relaxed all the time. To learn a method for proper breathing, click here. Also, look into stress-reducing mind-body disciplines such as tai chi, yoga, qigong, and meditation, which all incorporate breathing work into their routines.

4. Herbal Help for Anxiety
Valerian, sometimes called "nature's tranquilizer, is used to regulate the nervous system and relieve tension, irritability, nervous exhaustion and stress, and anxiety for centuries. As a sedative, valerian is non-addictive and relieves sleeplessness without the morning-after grogginess often associated with prescription sleep medications.
Schisandra berry has been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine to revitalize the senses. It increases physical endurance and mental concentration, while at the same time soothing the nerves and taking the edge off anxiety. Take these herbs anytime during the day and before bed in tea or capsule form. Many of my patients have had remarkable results with Calm-Fort Elixir, an all-natural formulation of herbs to calm your spirit. For more information, click here.

5. Try the Nutrient GABA
A healthy brain needs a balance between neural chemicals that excite the nerves and those that calm the nerves. GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) is the primary neural transmitter for calming the transmission of nerve signals. It can help prevent anxiety-related messages from reaching the brain. Having levels of GABA that are too low can increase anxiety, insomnia, irritability, and depression. My suggestion is to eat a diet rich in GABA including fish, especially mackerel and wheat bran or to take 250-500 milligrams on a daily basis, along with vitamin B6.

6. Get Out of Your Head By Helping Others
Most of us could sit around all day agonizing in our heads about bad news and working our way into a negative inner dialogue. The way to get out of your own head is by doing something for others. Offer to help someone else and completely focus on his or her needs. Give a friend a hand with moving or planning an event. Volunteer for a charitable cause. It's amazing how taking the focus off yourself can reduce your stress and anxiety.

I hope you find the ways to check your anxiety! I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.

May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Enjoying a Wonderful Day



How about living and spending one day in a different way from your other days? You can create and enjoy a beautiful, satisfying and wonderful day. You can do so, by making small changes in your daily life.

Your preparations have to start the night before.
Sit down on your bed before lying down to sleep, and tell yourself that tomorrow morning you are going to wake one hour earlier than usual. Repeat some auto suggestions or affirmations to make the mind accept this idea. Think for a while about the benefits you will gain by waking and getting up earlier, and about the things you can do in this extra hour.

It is not enough just to wake up early. Often, after waking up, we do not get out of bed, but stay for some more minutes, and then fall asleep again. You have to persuade and explain to your mind that you have to get out of bed immediately after awakening. It is pleasant to cuddle under the blankets, especially on a cold morning, but on this special day you need to get out of bed immediately.

Set your alarm clock to the appointed hour and enter your bed. While in bed, watch the thoughts that pop up into your mind, but try to do so detachedly and without any tension. Just watch them dispassionately, calmly, and in a relaxed manner, until you fall asleep.

When the alarm clock rings in the morning, get up immediately, with a smile on your face. Don't give in to the desire to stay some more minutes in bed. Don't listen to your mind, which will probably persuade you to stay in bed a little longer, because it is too early. The feeling of pleasure and power you gain by getting immediately is greater that the pleasure of staying in bed.




Get up, wash, change your clothes and sit for meditation for about twenty minutes, using any meditation technique that you know. If you do not know how to meditate, just sit down and visualize some pleasurable and happy events from the past.
I am not going to describe how to handle each and every action and situation during the day, as every individual has a different life and schedule. However, I am going to give some general examples and hints to help you design your own day.

# Waking up earlier gives you more time in the morning, so why not enjoy a nourishing and tasty breakfast? Prepare something you love, something that you usually do not have the time to prepare in the morning. You have got the time today.

# Endeavor to be aware of what you are doing throughout the day. When you eat for example, pay attention to your food, and don't read the newspaper or watch the television at the same time. If you do so, you will enjoy your food much more. In the same way try to focus your attention on your other activities. Concentrating on what you are doing helps you do it better and more efficiently.

# Remember to smile more often during the day. It is important that the smile is not a artificial, but that it comes from inside you. Smiling makes you and other people feel happier.



# Expect the best and do your best.

# Be patient and tolerant toward others.

# While driving your car, decide to be kind and tolerant toward the other drivers. Stop at street crossings to let the pedestrians cross the street. Be courteous and considerate on the road. This behavior will make you and the other drivers and pedestrians feel good. As a consequence, they too will be kind to other drivers and pedestrians, at least for a little while.

# A good morning with a smile has a great influence on everyone. Greet the people who work with you, even if you have never done so before.

# Coming to work with a strong intention to have a great day, and handling everything in a positive and decisive manner, will have its influence upon the people whom you come in contact with. This will help you to broadcast peace, good will and happiness.

# Do your best to be nice and polite today, to your family, colleagues, friends, the seller at the grocery or supermarket, to the bus or cab driver, to the delivery boy and to anyone else you meet today. It is all a matter of inner attitude and choice. Exercise your power to choose a polite and considerate attitude.



# Make a decision that during this special day you are going to handle everything in a cool and calm way. If you need to meet someone or do something that usually makes you feel nervous or irritated, have a talk with yourself beforehand. Tell yourself that you are going to stay calm and relaxed, and that you are going to handle everything in the best way. If you feel you need it, make several mental rehearsals. Visualize yourself going through the situation in a very efficient way, and achieving a positive outcome.

# In this special day act unhurriedly. Do your best to stay relaxed. Remind yourself often that it is your beautiful, wonderful day. Invite into your mind thoughts and feelings of happiness, satisfaction and competence. Imagine scenes and events from your past experiences, when you felt good and happy. By concentrating on these mental images you let the associated feelings and emotions well up again. Enjoy these good feelings, and try to go on enjoying them, even after you stop thinking about them.

# When back home from work, what about a flower, a book, or some other small gift to your spouse and children? Even a smile, a hug or a kiss will do. You have tried all day to be kind to other people and stay positive. Do this at home too. Devote some quality time to your family. You have been out the whole day; now enjoy being together with them. Earning money to suppurt your family is not enough. They need to feel your love and attention too.



# During this special day, make also some special effort to use your time more efficiently. Do not watch too much TV, and shorten the time that you read the newspaper. It is better to use this time to read something inspiring that will help you improve your life, or devote a few minutes to meditation in the afternoon or evening.

# Don't forget to devote some time for yourself. I have talked about meditation, but do also something that you love, such as reading a book, writing, devoting some time to your hobby, walking or any other physical exercises.
The above are suggestions to show you what you can do. You can adapt these hints to your specific situation.

Try to live one wonderful day. Then enjoy another day like it. If you continue, this will become a habit.

Remember that today is a special and wonderful day. It is different from the other days.