Stressed? Here’s A 5-Minute Fix
By JC Peters for Spirituality & Health Magazine
Increasingly over the past couple of years, I’ve been having outbreaks of hives and itchy skin. I finally sat down with an allergist, who gave it to me straight. I am allergic to pineapples, apples, and — get this — anything that touches my skin. Anything that rubs, scratches or irritates my skin will create the itchy, irritating hives. He said, “Your problem isn’t actually the allergies. It’s stress and anxiety, so I would get that under control if you can.”
Funny. I’ve been trying to get my stress and anxiety under control since I collapsed into a heap of wracking sobs in front of my math teacher in high school because I was in school full time, socializing full time and working eight-hour days on the weekends, so couldn’t complete my math homework. Ironic, perhaps, that a yoga teacher would struggle so much with stress, but ask any one of us and we will probably tell you that’s how we got into this field in the first place.
It’s not that we are “Type-A” personalities or workaholics. Our culture has been mainlining stress, and we are accidental junkies. We think relaxation is something you do on a vacation that you worked 80-hour weeks for years to “deserve,” and when we see it in everyday life, we recoil in fear and disgust and label it “laziness.”
Yesterday, I noticed a billboard for a coffee shop advertising an even faster way to pay. The image was a coffee mug and a doughnut moving so quickly the doughnut’s sprinkles were flying off. Sitting down for a coffee and a doughnut used to mean a pause from a stressful day, a quiet moment before having to rush off again. Now a “coffee break” is another cog in our Faster Machine.
What appears to be happening is a slow but certain takeover of our sympathetic nervous system (SNS), sometimes called the “stress state,” from the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which governs healing and rest. Both systems are always present in the body, but one is usually functioning more than the other. Calling the SNS the “stress state” gives it a bit of a negative connotation, which isn’t quite right. We need stress to survive, and having appropriate periods of stress gets us out of the house in the morning, helps us follow our dreams, and yes, if necessary, helps us run away from a bear.
The problem is that our SNS easily gets stuck in the “on” position. Even when we appear to be relaxed, the SNS is still highly functioning, preventing the PNS from taking over and allowing us to rest, digest, process emotion, and stimulate the immune system. Nightmares and clenched jaws indicate that we can even sleep in a stress state. If you’re like me, being at a low buzz of stress feels so normal that deep relaxation and stillness is so unfamiliar it’s almost uncomfortable. Our stress habits are so strong that, ironically, being comfortable is beyond our comfort zone.
The good news is that even though the SNS is very easily triggered, there are triggers for the PNS as well that we can practice more often to rehabilitate our stress addictions.
The most important tool we can use to retrain ourselves is awareness. What does it feel like to be in a relaxed state? What triggers me back into a state of stress? What are the signs?
In order to see these signs, you must first know what it feels like to be relaxed. Actually relaxed.
Viparita Karani, or Legs Up the Wall, is a yoga pose that strongly stimulates the PNS, and all you need is a floor and a wall or even a bed or couch. If you can get out to a restorative yoga class, even better, but this is one you can do everyday. Always check with your doctor first if you are pregnant or have any health concerns.
Sit with one hip touching the wall. Roll down onto your forearms as you swing your legs up the wall, and shimmy as close to the wall as you feel comfortable. No need to touch the wall with your bum.
Lie on your back, hands on your belly, out to the sides or up overhead, whichever one feels most comfortable to you. Lifting your legs off the floor tells your body in no uncertain terms that you are not “on the go” right now. Your sprinkles are going to stay firmly on your doughnut here.
If you have a bolster or pillow, slide it under your hips and adjust it for comfort. If you have a blanket, drape it over your legs for warmth and support. If you have an eye pillow or a scarf, place it over your eyes. Warmth, comfort, quiet, and darkness are a few excellent PNS triggers.
You can stay here for up to 20 minutes if you are comfortable, but five minutes is enough. When you are ready to come out, do so slowly, bending your knees and rolling onto your right side before you come all the way up. Take your time and remember this feeling of relaxation as you notice what triggers you back into your SNS.
Now we have a program for stress rehab. Good luck, and godspeed you keep your sprinkles on.
- Why stress really is no good for us (reikisharronmblog.wordpress.com)
- Using and learning proper breathing techniques is one (realphysiokarratha.wordpress.com)
Some healthy humor 😉
Exercise and Weight Loss Give Brain a Boost
Study finds that getting fit helped overweight, inactive adults sharpen their thinking skills, too
Regular high-intensity exercise is not only good for your body, it’s also good for your brain, researchers report.Their new study included overweight and inactive adults, average age 49, who underwent tests to assess their thinking, decision-making and memory skills — also known as cognitive function.
In addition, follow-up testing showed that the participants’ brain function had also improved, and that the increases were proportional to the improvements in exercise capacity and body weight. Simply put, the more they could exercise and the more weight they had lost, the greater their improvement in thinking skills, the investigators found.
“If you talk to people who exercise, they say they feel sharper. Now we’ve found a way to measure that,” Dr. Martin Juneau, director of prevention at the Montreal Heart Institute, said in Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada news release.
Blood flow to the brain increases during exercise. The more fit you are, the more that blood flow increases, Juneau explained.”It’s reassuring to know that you can at least partially prevent that decline by exercising and losing weight,” Juneau said in the news release.
While the study found an association between increased physical fitness and improved thinking skills, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.More information
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers a guide to physical activity.
Eat to Defeat Inflammation
The first nutrition course I ever took in college changed my life. I was absolutely fascinated to learn what vitamins and minerals were and how important they are for good health. It was also about that time I finally understood what Hippocrates meant when he said, “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. Today, that saying is even more important as nutrition science has come a long way since I took that first nutrition course. Just think about inflammation, your body’s natural protective response to illness or injury. In fact, a little inflammation under normal circumstances can be a good thing. When you cut yourself, you want your immune system to respond quickly by sending white blood cells to your wound to fight off infection. But a low-grade persistent state of chronic inflammation is not a good thing. In this circumstance, white blood cells inappropriately move into tissues and cause destruction. In fact, chronic inflammation has been linked to a whole host of health conditions from type 2 diabetes and arthritis to heart disease, obesity, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Thanks to the anti-inflammatory effects of certain foods, a healthful diet can help you fight off inflammation, (Regular exercise, not smoking, and losing weight are powerful tools, too.) Start by eating less of the “bad stuff”— fast food burgers, French fries, and sodas, as well as sweets such as cookies, cakes, and pies. These highly processed foods loaded with fat, sugar, and salt promote inflammation, while eating more of the “good stuff”—yes, more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts—inhibits and protects against inflammation. Here are some of my favorite anti-inflammatory foods:
Fish and walnuts. Salmon and tuna are great sources of inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids, as are walnuts. These foods help offset the pro-inflammatory effects of omega-6 fatty acids, which are pervasive in our diet. Omega-6 fats are found in eggs, corn, soy, and safflower oils.
Olive oil. Studies suggest consuming a Mediterranean-style diet—a diet high in plant foods and olive oil—helps decrease joint tenderness in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Red wine and dark chocolate. Resveratrol, a phytonutrient found in red wine, has been shown to inhibit inflammation, while the consumption of dark chocolate, something I do almost daily, has been linked to lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a biomarker of inflammation in the body.
Turmeric. Spice up your life. Turmeric, also known as curry, is a traditional spice of Indian cuisine. In a recent pilot study, supplemental turmeric helped reduce joint tenderness and swelling in people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
Tart cherries. It’s cherry season and according to the latest research, tart cherries may have the highest anti-inflammatory content of any food. In a recent study, women with osteoarthritis who drank tart cherry juice twice a day for several weeks experienced a significant reduction in important markers of inflammation.
Eating to fight inflammation could be one of the best things you do for yourself. For your next meal, how about some salmon curry and a glass of red wine, followed by some tart cherries covered in dark chocolate for dessert?
Article by Pamela Riggs: Director of Medical Affairs and Health Sciences at the Shaklee Corporation
- Researchers: Tart Cherries Have ‘Highest Anti-Inflammatory Content Of Any Food’ (detroit.cbslocal.com)
- America’s Deadliest Diseases: How Your Diet May Put You at Risk (mcntalk.com)
- When food causes you pain (cnn.com)
10 Ways We Can Help Make a Difference
Today is Earth Day, so it would seem to be a good time to think about what we can do in our day to day lives to help make a difference in the world around us. In January we make our New Year’s resolutions and look for ways to make a change in our lives, hoping for better health, a better job or less stress. Some resolutions are small, others are big life-changing challenges.
New Year’s resolutions are often broken, especially if they are hastily made without thinking through the logistics. Perhaps today would be a good day to make some resolutions for “going green” in the upcoming months. Earth Day is a great time to remember and appreciate nature, as well as learn ways to protect and care for our environment. Everyone can find a few small ways to help do their part.
Not Sure Where To Start? Here Are 10 Suggestions to Help You Get Started…
1. Banish paper and plastic bags from your life. Always carry at least one reusable bag with you and it will soon be as routine as grabbing your keys when you head out.2. Switch your monthly bills to e-billing. Even if you print them out at home, you’ll eliminate the postage carbon footprint and reduce paper use (no envelopes and annoying “special offer” inserts).3. Before you throw anything away, ask yourself if you can use it in a new way or if someone else could use it.
4. If you’re replacing appliances in 2012, pay a little more for the most efficient Energy Star models — they’ll save you money in the long run.
5. Walk more, particularly if your destination is less than 30 minutes on foot. It’s good for your health and the environment.
6. Take public transit. Students often have a transit pass included in their fees, and some cities even have free public transit, so use it!
7. In the market for a new car? Choose a green hybrid or electric.
8. Go vegetarian one day a week. The livestock industry is a huge greenhouse gas emitter.
9. Refuse to buy foods that are unnecessarily packaged, such as fruits and vegetables.
10. Buy a water filtration pitcher and refill your own bottles instead of buying bottled water.
These are just a few of the ways you can commit to going green in the new year. Just remember: It can be a challenge as you adjust to a new way of thinking, but it’s worth sticking with it.
- Is it your New Year’s resolution to create an energy-efficient home? (shoppingdivas.com)
- Earth Day: Good For The Wallet and Planet (myp3r.wordpress.com)
- Happy Earth Day! (+Earth Day activities to ACT on) (agentnerdy.wordpress.com)
- Celebrate Earth Day: Tips for Going Green (healthnhorizons.com)
Tis the Season…
The lower 48 states are experiencing one of the worst allergy seasons on record. The mild temperature during the end of winter has allowed for earlier growth and blooming. Levels of pollen, tree, grass, mold and others are all high. The fact is, all of us are allergic to these things because they are foreign invaders. So why do some seem symptom free, while others are so bad that they are having asthmatic conditions? The answer is balance.
Several systems in your body need to be in balance to help deal with environmental allergens. The immune system, inflammatory system, detoxification system, hormone system and structural system all have to be in balance and functioning at 80% capacity or higher. Additionally, we need to have low oxidative stress and healthy bowel function. When all of these are in working order, there is a good chance you will be one of the people who don’t appear to suffer from allergies. The more of these systems that are out of balance, the more likely you will suffer. In fact, over the years I have had many people tell me that they have recently developed allergies, or that over time they have increased. To help improve your symptoms or eliminate them, you have to support the systems mentioned above. I myself can attest to the power of this approach as I once had terrible environmental allergies and suffered with exercise induced asthma. I happy to report that the asthma is completely gone and the allergies have not been an issue for several years.
Everything starts with diet. Your diet has a major impact on your inflammatory response. Try to eliminate processed foods, white sugar, white flour, high carb foods, trans fats, coffee and other high caffeine foods or drinks. Cut down on dairy products and red meats. Grass fed, organic beef is best, but on a limited basis. Instead, try to eat quality proteins like turkey, fish, pasture raised chicken and eggs. Get plenty of vegetables in your diet as well as healthy fats like olive oil, fish oil, flax oil and coconut oil. I realize this is a tall order, but every little bit helps. Just be mindful of what you eat. Drink plenty of purified water, like Get Clean water.
Move your body. The trash in your body moves through the lymphatic system. The lymph system does not have its own pump. Therefore, you have to move your arms, legs and trunk to help move the garbage along. A ten minute walk, stationary bike with arm movements, yoga and mild cardio movements are all helpful.
Support your systems. There are some really easy and great ways to help support the body and allow it to handle the allergens better without causing you a lot of discomfort. For me, the baseline is the Shaklee Life Strip and Vivix. Together, you have all the things you need to have a positive impact on detoxification, oxidative stress, inflammation and hormonal imbalance. These four systems interact very closely with one another so supporting all four at the same time makes better sense. Next, consider adding DTX for additional liver support (your oil filter), Nutriferon to regulate the immune response and Alfalfa to clean and alkalize the system. If you have a lot of stress in your life, try Stress Relief Complex to help balance out the stress response. Stressed out stress glands have been shown to have a direct link to increased allergies to both environmental allergens as well as food.
Lastly, keep things as clean as possible. Always use non toxic cleaning products to clean your home, on dishes and clothing. I have chosen to use Get Clean products. Some of the most toxic things you come in contact with are cleaning products. Women need to find healthier cosmetics that don’t have all those nasty chemicals. Limit fragrances as they contain hormone disruptors as well as chemicals known to irritate the lungs.
Every little bit helps. Start with one or two, and add on as you can. I know you will see a difference because I did!
Information based on an article by Dr. Joseph Hansen/Omnis Chiropractic
Eye Wrinkles Can Be Avoided, But How?
Eye wrinkles are a common problem that affect many us of these days. Unhealthy lifestyles, stress, atmospheric pollution and advancement of age contribute to this problem. And while many of these causes are inevitable, you can prevent or at least minimize them.
Facial gestures, such as squinting your eyes, are among the most common factors that contribute to the formation of eye wrinkles. As the skin around the eyes is highly sensitive, exposure to ultraviolet rays of the sun and extreme cold and heat can enhance wrinkling of the sensitive skin around the eyes. This wrinkled skin makes us look older than we are and can have a negative impact on our confidence and self-esteem.
The moment we are born, we start to age. But, the damage that the cells of our body undergo are offset by the innate healing capacity of our body. Still, after a particular age, this repair work slows down a great deal. This is why eye wrinkles form. If you want to maintain the good health of your skin, you need to nourish it by protecting your skin, adopting healthy eating habits and exercising. Adding an effective eye cream to your skin care regimen can also assist in helping you maintain healthy skin.
There are umpteen eye wrinkle creams available to diminish eye wrinkles and keep you looking and feeling youthful. But, not all eye creams are created equal. And simply because one worked for someone else, doesn’t mean it will work for you. The key is to test until you find the eye cream that works for you. While this can get expensive, look for trial offers and/or money back guarantees. Positive reviews from others who have used a particular cream are also helpful. Personally, I have had wonderful results with Shaklee Eye Treatment. It comes with a money back guarantee, so there is no risk.
As someone constantly getting in trouble for not flossing, I found this article from articlesbase.com by Ruth Butters interesting…
CoQ10 And Gum Disease
Having problems with your teeth and gums? Coenzyme Q10 may help. Clinical research indicates that CoQ10 benefits periodontal disease, both as a treatment and a preventative. Periodontal disease – a widespread problem characterized by swelling, bleeding, pain, and redness of the gums – is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults. The disease is caused by plaque-forming bacteria, which create inflammation and deterioration of the gum tissue. This deterioration often results in the loss of teeth. It’s estimated that 90% of Americans will experience gum disease during their lifetime, and 25% of Americans over 60 will lose teeth due to the disease. But bad as loss of teeth is, it isn’t the worst possible result of gum disease. Studies suggest that the natural inflammatory response to the bacteria may have adverse effects throughout the body, including damage to the heart.
Low levels of CoQ10 associated with gum disease
Dentists agree that good oral hygiene is the first line of defense against gum disease, but research has shown that the coenzyme can also play an important role in both prevention and treatment.
A natural substance found in every cell, the coenzyme plays two important roles in overall health. Its primary function is to assist in the production of energy at the cellular level, and it is also a powerful antioxidant, capable of neutralizing the damaging effects of free radicals (chemically unstable molecules formed during the process of cellular oxidation). In both respects it is important to tissue health.
In the early 1970s pioneering studies indicated that gum tissue taken from patients with periodontal disease was low in the coenzyme, and since that time studies have repeatedly confirmed that low CoQ10 levels are definitely associated with periodontal disease.
Supplementation effectively halts disease and may reverse it
Numerous animal studies and clinical trials involving human periodontal disease patients indicate that supplemental dosage of the coenzyme can effectively halt the progression of the disease. In addition, several small studies have shown that additional CoQ10 can actually reverse the effects of the disease, and when used in conjunction with other treatments can result in faster and more complete healing than expected with standard treatments alone.
CoQ10 is known to boost the immune system, which in turn enables the body to more effectively fight infection. It is believed that supplements promote faster healing by increasing the amount of cellular energy available for tissue repair.
- Preventing and Treating Gum Problems (webmd.com)
- Bleeding Gums Strategy for The Periodontal Disease (boldstate.com)
This article is from HelpGuide.org…
Laughter is the Best Medicine
The Health Benefits of Humor and Laughter
Humor is infectious. The sound of roaring laughter is far more contagious than any cough, sniffle, or sneeze. When laughter is shared, it binds people together and increases happiness and intimacy. In addition to the domino effect of joy and amusement, laughter also triggers healthy physical changes in the body. Humor and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free, and easy to use.
Laughter is strong medicine for mind and body
“Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.”
~ Paul E. McGhee, Ph.D.
Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert.
With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing your relationships, and supporting both physical and emotional health.
Laughter is good for your health
- Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
- Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
- Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
- Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
|The Benefits of Laughter|
|Physical Health Benefits:
||Mental Health Benefits:
Laughter and humor help you stay emotionally healthy
Laughter makes you feel good. And the good feeling that you get when you laugh remains with you even after the laughter subsides. Humor helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss.
More than just a respite from sadness and pain, laughter gives you the courage and strength to find new sources of meaning and hope. Even in the most difficult of times, a laugh–or even simply a smile–can go a long way toward making you feel better. And laughter really is contagious—just hearing laughter primes your brain and readies you to smile and join in the fun.
The link between laughter and mental health
- Laughter dissolves distressing emotions. You can’t feel anxious, angry, or sad when you’re laughing.
- Laughter helps you relax and recharge. It reduces stress and increases energy, enabling you to stay focused and accomplish more.
- Humor shifts perspective, allowing you to see situations in a more realistic, less threatening light. A humorous perspective creates psychological distance, which can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.
The social benefits of humor and laughter
Humor and playful communication strengthen our relationships by triggering positive feelings and fostering emotional connection. When we laugh with one another, a positive bond is created. This bond acts as a strong buffer against stress, disagreements, and disappointment.
Laughing with others is more powerful than laughing alone
Creating opportunities to laugh
- Watch a funny movie or TV show.
- Go to a comedy club.
- Read the funny pages.
- Seek out funny people.
- Share a good joke or a funny story.
- Check out your bookstore’s humor section.
- Host game night with friends.
- Play with a pet.
- Go to a “laughter yoga” class.
- Goof around with children.
- Do something silly.
- Make time for fun activities (e.g. bowling, miniature golfing, karaoke).
Shared laughter is one of the most effective tools for keeping relationships fresh and exciting. All emotional sharing builds strong and lasting relationship bonds, but sharing laughter and play also adds joy, vitality, and resilience. And humor is a powerful and effective way to heal resentments, disagreements, and hurts. Laughter unites people during difficult times.
Incorporating more humor and play into your daily interactions can improve the quality of your love relationships— as well as your connections with co-workers, family members, and friends. Using humor and laughter in relationships allows you to:
- Be more spontaneous. Humor gets you out of your head and away from your troubles.
- Let go of defensiveness. Laughter helps you forget judgments, criticisms, and doubts.
- Release inhibitions. Your fear of holding back and holding on are set aside.
- Express your true feelings. Deeply felt emotions are allowed to rise to the surface.
Bringing more humor and laughter into your life
Want to bring the fun? Get a pet…
Most of us have experienced the joy of playing with a furry friend, and pets are a rewarding way to bring more laughter and joy into your life. But did you know that having a pet is also good for your mental and physical health? Studies show that pets can protect you depression, stress, and even heart disease.
Laughter is your birthright, a natural part of life that is innate and inborn. Infants begin smiling during the first weeks of life and laugh out loud within months of being born. Even if you did not grow up in a household where laughter was a common sound, you can learn to laugh at any stage of life.
Begin by setting aside special times to seek out humor and laughter, as you might with working out, and build from there. Eventually, you’ll want to incorporate humor and laughter into the fabric of your life, finding it naturally in everything you do.
Here are some ways to start:
- Smile. Smiling is the beginning of laughter. Like laughter, it’s contagious. Pioneers in “laugh therapy,” find it’s possible to laugh without even experiencing a funny event. The same holds for smiling. When you look at someone or see something even mildly pleasing, practice smiling.
- Count your blessings. Literally make a list. The simple act of considering the good things in your life will distance you from negative thoughts that are a barrier to humor and laughter. When you’re in a state of sadness, you have further to travel to get to humor and laughter.
- When you hear laughter, move toward it. Sometimes humor and laughter are private, a shared joke among a small group, but usually not. More often, people are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again and feed off the humor you find in it. When you hear laughter, seek it out and ask, “What’s funny?”
- Spend time with fun, playful people. These are people who laugh easily–both at themselves and at life’s absurdities–and who routinely find the humor in everyday events. Their playful point of view and laughter are contagious.
- Bring humor into conversations. Ask people, “What’s the funniest thing that happened to you today? This week? In your life?”
Developing your sense of humor: Take yourself less seriously
One essential characteristic that helps us laugh is not taking ourselves too seriously. We’ve all known the classic tight-jawed sourpuss who takes everything with deathly seriousness and never laughs at anything. No fun there!
Some events are clearly sad and not occasions for laughter. But most events in life don’t carry an overwhelming sense of either sadness or delight. They fall into the gray zone of ordinary life–giving you the choice to laugh or not.
Ways to help yourself see the lighter side of life:
- Laugh at yourself. Share your embarrassing moments. The best way to take yourself less seriously is to talk about times when you took yourself too seriously.
- Attempt to laugh at situations rather than bemoan them. Look for the humor in a bad situation, and uncover the irony and absurdity of life. This will help improve your mood and the mood of those around you.
- Surround yourself with reminders to lighten up. Keep a toy on your desk or in your car. Put up a funny poster in your office. Choose a computer screensaver that makes you laugh. Frame photos of you and your family or friends having fun.
- Keep things in perspective. Many things in life are beyond your control—particularly the behavior of other people. While you might think taking the weight of the world on your shoulders is admirable, in the long run it’s unrealistic, unproductive, unhealthy, and even egotistical.
- Deal with your stress. Stress is a major impediment to humor and laughter.
- Pay attention to children and emulate them. They are the experts on playing, taking life lightly, and laughing.