Tag Archives: stress less

Weekly Health Tip: The Power of Meditation

Visualization is the courtesy of TheVisualMD.com

Brought to you by Deepak Chopra, MD, Alexander Tsiaras, and TheVisualMD.com

The stress and strife of daily life have a direct effect on our health. Most dramatically, our very chromosomes are affected by stress. Telomeres are the end tips of our chromosomes, little caps that protect our DNA. (The bright spots in the above visualization of a chromosome are the telomeres.)

Telomeres play an important role in cell division, and get a bit shorter every time a cell divides. In studies, subjects with inherently stressful lives—notably mothers of special-needs children and spouses of dementia sufferers—showed extraordinary wear and tear on their telomeres. The stress-induced disruption to their cells’ life cycle actually caused them to age faster. But an enzyme called telomerase maintains and repairs the telomeres, prolonging the life of our cells. Increasing telomerase is a way to slow telomeres’ unraveling. And guess how we can we do that? Meditation.

An exciting 2010 study showed that people in an intensive meditation practice had greater telomerase activity in their immune cells than those who did not meditate. Scientists are working to gather even more information about how mindful awareness and other stress reduction techniques can help us live longer and more healthfully.

Those who have never attempted a meditation practice may feel unsure about beginning. Do I have to study anything, buy anything? No. There are many ways to meditate, and you may enjoy learning about many of them, but mindful awareness should never feel like hard work or a formal program. Meditation is, by definition, not trying. Start by taking 20 minutes to close your eyes and sit still. Find the quiet in your mind. Focus on one thing: Yourself doing nothing. Be aware of your breathing, let your muscles relax, and let go of your daily concerns. If you are thinking about the future or remembering the past, your mind is not in the present. The goal is for your mind to be only in the present. Not only will you feel at peace, you will know that your practice is benefitting your overall health and longevity.

Learn more about alternative paths to health:

TheVisualMD.com: Dr. Oz and Alternative Practices


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PHOTO (cc): Flickr / jessebezz

The Secret Recipe for Thankfulness

Thanksgiving is almost here and many of us feel compelled to be grateful. You can recite all the affirmations you want, but when you don’t really believe them, stress sets in. Many people go to extremes during Thanksgiving – marathon meals, marathon expenses, marathon get-togethers, marathon family arguments and marathon exhaustion. This year change the dynamics of the ritual celebration. Thanksgiving can actually be a healthy experience for body, mind and spirit starting the holiday season on the right foot – fewer resolutions to make this New Year.  Did you know that socializing has been ranked as beneficial for health on par with exercise?

7 ingredients for a healthy Thanksgiving:

1. You are above ground. Celebrate life. Inhale and absorb the simple pleasures. Decorate a lamp like hanging circles made from construction paper expressing your wishes and appreciation.

2. Keep it simple. There is no point to serve so many dazzling dishes to wow your guests while you feel deader than the turkey. If your house is too clean and everything is too perfect, people are not going to feel comfortable as they will be afraid to disturb anything or flow in conversation. There is no substitute for relaxed good cheer which welcomes people to your home for warmth and positive energy.

3. Transform yourself into a guest in your own home. If you are in the kitchen up to your elbows in stress, you are not enjoying the holiday and your family and friends are not enjoying you. Let everyone feel important and help you out like a team.

4. Use the holiday as an opportunity to forgive and forget; no need to let pride build a barrier to loving relationships. Reconnect with family and friends as the occasion calls for it – no explanations necessary. You can incorporate a new forgiveness ritual as part of the Thanksgiving meal – followed by a sweet table.

5. Open up to another person’s view or differing opinion. Whenever you see the negative in someone, begin to focus on what is good. Become aware every time you go into critical mode because it is usually your weakness and not theirs. Similarly, when someone criticizes you de-constructively, it is usually their personal issue.

6. A turkey dinner can turn out to be a healthy meal. White meat turkey is a source of lean protein. Celebrate the good earth with a rainbow array of fruits and vegetables. For example, sweet potatoes don’t need adornments like marshmallows. Just bake them.

7.  After dinner take a brisk Thanksgiving walk with your guests to prevent fat deposits from sticking to the arteries. This will be a super bonding experience as everyone’s endorphins will increase from the walk.


How to Stress Less : 101

“My Intent is to stress less”


What is Stress?

Simply put, stress is the reaction of our mind, body, and/or spirit to a demand placed on us. It happens when we react to something we view as negative, which could be anything from someone cutting you off on the freeway to finding out you’. But even positive stress, like getting married, starting an exciting new job, or having a baby has a powerful impact on our minds and bodies.

The American Institute of Stress has even called stress “America’s number-one health problem,” especially if it’s chronic. Over time, unrelieved tension can cause the body to continue to release hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline which can impair brain, digestive, and immune function and raise your risk for depression and anxiety. In fact, unchecked stress levels can have an impact on virtually all aspects of health.

How Can I Achieve My Intent?

An exclusive round-up of the best thinking from leading experts

“Do one thing at a time. This is the simplest and best way to start reducing your stress, and you can start today. Right now. Focus as much as possible on doing one thing at a time. Clear your desk of distractions. Pick something to work on. Need to write a report? Do only that. Remove distractions such as phones and email notifications while you’re working on that report. If you’re going to do email, do only that. This takes practice, and you’ll get urges to do other things. Just keep practicing and you’ll get better at it.” — Leo Babauta, creator of Zenhabits.net (This tip is the first of Babauta’s “10 Simple Ways to Live a Stress-Free Life.”)

Have no expectations. By not expecting a particular outcome, you approach life with innocence instead of agenda. This allows you to be awake in the moment. It also keeps you from being disappointed that your expectations aren’t being met.” Arthur Jeon, author of City Dharma: Keeping Your Cool in the Chaos and Sex, Love & Dharma: Finding Love Without Losing Your Way

“I remember reading in a major newspaper an article called ‘The Genetic Crystal Ball.’ The article mentioned that every human being has approximately 30 genes that are pre-disposed to disease. Hopefully those genes remain dormant for a lifetime. But the primary triggers for those genes are environmental toxins and stress. When we sustain stress day in and day out, we are bound to trigger one of these genes, leading to some type of disease. So we must have a means of dealing with stress. I always tell my yoga students how greatly our culture undervalues ‘rejuvenation.’ When we go to the hospital or doctor, very rarely do we experience a rejuvenating atmosphere or a direct antidote to the stress we endure when sick. So here’s my recommendation: Every day, in the middle of the day, lie down, turn on the sound of running water on your iPod, close your eyes, and reset your mind and body. Writer Natalie Goldberg said, ‘stress is basically a disconnection from the earth, a forgetting of the breath. Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important. Just lie down.’”David Romanelli, yoga teacher, Yahoo! Wellness Expert, and author of Yeah Dave’s Guide to Livin’ the Moment: Getting to Ecstasy Through Wine, Chocolate and Your iPod Playlist

“You may be adding significantly to your own experience of stress by being caught up in and unconsciously feeding reactive feelings of ill will and dislike for the stressful experience as it happens. In the midst of feeling stressed, start to listen for your own inner reactions. Self-talk like ‘I hate this!’ or ‘This isn’t going away fast enough!’ or ‘I don’t know what I am going to do about this,’ reflects the presence and intensity in your inner life of powerful and destructive feelings of ill will and aversion. So make it a point to be more mindful of such feelings of ill will and rejection. After mindfully noticing your reactions and stepping back from fighting or feeding the feeling, try offering yourself a positive affirmation or words of encouragement.”Jeffrey Brantley, M.D., founder and director of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program at Duke Integrative Medicine, and author of Calming Your Anxious Mind: How Mindfulness and Compassion Can Free You from Anxiety, Fear, and Panic, and co-author of the Five Good Minutes book series

“When stress creeps up on you I encourage my clients to try a dose of what Bradford Keeney calls ‘shaking medicine.’ That means to literally ‘shake off’ the negative feelings, the ‘stuckness’ and disorientation of upsetting events, like when the boss yells at you or the financial markets turn south. Instead of getting stuck in a mish-mash of mental machinations, you can ‘work from within’ using your innate healing abilities. Start by feeling the impact of the stress in your body as tightening, stiffness, and numbness. Then let yourself start to rhythmically shake, perhaps beginning with a hand or a foot. Let that motion move through you organically, following the impulses of where it feels good to loosen up.  Move gently in unplanned, unpredictable ways, letting the shaking move wherever it wants to go. Don’t think about it too much; within two to 10 minutes you should be feeling better. When we move, we change. Give ‘shaking medicine’ a try and notice how it helps you to transform your energy into a new groove.” – Susan Bernstein, Ph.D., creator of Work From Within and the CD, “Creating Work that Fits You, From the Inside Out.”

Where Do I Start?

Step 1: Take a hard look at where the stress in your life is coming from. For many of us, work is a huge source of stress. It that’s true for you, start by asking yourself what it is about your job that’s making you tense and also which of those aspects of your work – income, hours, boss, coworkers, commute, tasks – might be shifted and which can’t.

Step 2: Take inventory of your relationships with your spouse/partner, children, other relatives, friends, neighbors, and coworkers and figure out who’s adding stress to your life, and who’s helping to relieve it (on balance).

Step 3: Consider what really relaxes you and decide on one or two practical ways to add more of these activities (or simply time doing nothing) to your life, even if it’s just a few minutes every day. Keep in mind that activities many of us think of as relaxing – watching TV, surfing the Web, shopping – aren’t true stress relievers and can in fact add tension and fatigue to your life. What relieves tension can be very personal, so think about what makes you feel rejuvenated, joyful, and energized.


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