In It For Health

Where health and psychology intersect

Posts Tagged ‘stress’

Nurture yourself during the holiday rush…really!

Posted by Dr. Susan on December 4, 2011

Are you exhausted? I know that I am! After fighting crowds at the mall, baking mountains of cookies, and managing meltdowns by overtired kids, every parent is ready to drop! It’s difficult to avoid the insanity of the holidays, which is why it is so important for you to find a few moments to care for yourself. After all, if you feel cheerful and energized, rather than tired and stressed, you will be better able to juggle your way through the next few weeks. It doesn’t take much to get the relief that you so desperately need, so please enjoy these tips, as my holiday gift to you:

 

Turn up the tunes. Loud, fun music will lift your spirits and distract you. When you dance and sing along, it will definitely put a smile on your face. Soothing music will signal your body to relax and it will help you slow down.

Breathe in. Certain aromas have an instantly calming effect on your body. Lavender, rose, vanilla and many other scents will send signals to your brain to become calm and feel good. Carry an aroma that appeals to you in the form of a small container of balm, cream or essential oil. When you feel stressed, open the lid and inhale the soothing smell.

Breathe out. Stress can make your heart race. To slow it down, breathe in for a count of five, and breathe out for five. Repeat this another three or four times. You will be surprised at how this simple technique can calm you down. It is especially effective in traffic or while waiting on line. Practice this often to get better at it.

Indulge in a mini-massage. Use your favorite lotion (extra points if you use one with a soothing smell) to massage your hands together, or to rub your feet. It may not be quite as good as a professional massage, but your body will still thank you.

Limit caffeine. Too much caffeine amplifies stress. Although you may be exhausted, resist the urge to drink too much coffee. Don’t forget that there is also caffeine in some tea, soda, and chocolate.

Sip a cup of hot, herbal tea. The act of taking a moment to boil the water and brew the tea, will give you a time out. Then, since it’s hot, you will be forced to sit and sip it. Pick a flavor that feels calming (perhaps chamomile).

Stretch. The next time you watch TV with the kids, or chat on the phone, give your back, legs and neck a gentle stretch. You’ll feel your body instantly de-stress.

Exercise—even for a couple of minutes. Run upstairs or jog to meet the school bus. Your body will release feel-good endorphins that will keep you going for a while.

Take a hot shower or bath. The warm water will soothe your aching body and give you a few minutes of peace and quiet—if you’re lucky!

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Workplace wellness works!

Posted by Dr. Susan on September 3, 2009

Research is now showing that companies that utilize wellness programs can save anywhere fromf $3 to $15 for every $1 they spend on wellness! In addition, aside from savings and productivity, great wellness programs will attract better employees and increase morale. Important factors in a great program include targeting: smoking cessation, stress reduction, nutrition, early detection/weight management, workplace safety and disease management.

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A recession maybe, but not when it comes to cheap sweets!

Posted by Dr. Susan on March 26, 2009

Since the crash of the market, there’s been an uptick in purchases of inexpensive candy and cheap chocolates! This great NY Times article, explains that even as we wallow in the demise of life as we knew it, we continue to soothe ourselves with instant gratification!

Despite the fact that we know eating too much junk food is not good for our health,  we still associate sweets with helping ourselves feel better and we’re suckers (no pun intended!) for the feeling that we had when we were innocent kids at the corner candy shop and all was right with the world.

So as we get fatter (again!) while we lose all our money, yet another corporate entity–the candy makers–are raking in the bucks. Let’s not let that happen!!! A little good-quality chocolate once in a while is great for stress reduction (it increases your feel-good neurotransmitters), but please don’t sacrifice your health for a quick sugar fix all the time!

Instead, when you’re feeling a little down, take a walk, talk to a friend, write in a journal, ask your kid to tell you some funny knock-knock jokes. All of these will lift your spirits just as well…maybe better…than candy, and without the negative side effects.

Also, when you’re stressed, don’t jump to other negative habits. Smoking, drinking, drugs–you know the drill. Over-eating is on that list too.

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Calmer, less stressed–you’re less likely to get Alzheimer’s…really!

Posted by Dr. Susan on January 22, 2009

More and more research reinforces the idea that there is a strong relationship between your emotional and your physical health. Here is one more study that proves this point! The researchers looking at a group of aging folks found that those who were less stressed, calmer, and more go with the flow, were less likely to develop Alzheimers than those who were more stressed and neurotic.

It goes without say that brain changes don’t begin when you get your AARP card! No matter what your age, learning how to manage stress effectively–both at work and at home–is critical. Studies have shown impacts of stress on breast cancer, the heart and many other aspects of health. This is one more example.

Begin now! Take steps to change your life so that both your emotional and physical life are healthier.

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Breast cancer and marital stress…not a winning combo

Posted by Dr. Susan on December 12, 2008

This unsettling (although small) study finds that women in rocky marriages are more likely to have poorer outcomes–slower recovery, more symptoms, etc–than those in good marriages. This seemed to be true, even when the stage of cancer was taken into account.

It does make sense–there is a compelling correlation between stress and breast cancer, and certainly, marital problems are very stressful. In addition, physical and mental health are very closely connected. If you have been diagnosed with breast, or any other cancer and you believe that you are in a stressful relationship, it is important to seek professional assistance ASAP! Your health–even your life–may be counting on it.

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who’s in charge up in the sky?

Posted by Dr. Susan on May 14, 2008

By now just about everyone has heard about the JetBlue passenger who is suing the airline because the pilot forced him to spend three hours in the bathroom because apparantly a flight attendant found her jump-seat a little too uncomfortable and wanted his seat. You just can’t make this stuff up and I hope he gets every penny he’s suing for.

But what I don’t hear anyone talking about, and what worries me even more than the emotional damage for which this passenger is partially suing is what the psychological state of an airline pilot who who would direct such an action. Someone with such impaired judgment, with an obvious inability to make a rational and good decision should NOT be piloting a plane. It seems very unlikely that in a crisis he would make a decision in the best interest of the passengers I certainly wouldn’t want him in charge of my life! Would you? It makes me wonder what JetBlue–perhaps the entire airline industry–does to ensure the mental stability of its pilots. Up there they’re in charge. This incident demonstrates that having a mentally unstable person in charge can be dangerous. This time only one person was negatively impacted. Next time, who knows–it could be deadly. So do pilots take psychological tests? Does someone make sure that they’re stable, clear thinking, emotionally healthy people. Their job is unlike any other. In most other situations if someone isn’t happy with how they’re being treated they can just walk away. Not so when you’re flying. Along with a pilot’s physical health, their emotional health should be paramount. Is it? I wonder!

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April Fool’s Stress

Posted by Dr. Susan on April 1, 2008

An April Fool’s article in today’s New York Times got me thinking about my feeling about practical jokes. Yes, practical jokes can be funny–to the executer and the receiver. But in many cases, it is only the person (or people) perpetrating the joke that ends up laughing. The victim–and I use this word deliberately–feels embarrassed, angry and vulnerable. It takes real talent and sensitivity to execute a practical joke that is funny for both sides of the equation. Most people either don’t have this talent or don’t take the time to figure out how to make it happen. Most prank victims, adults and children alike, will never admit that they were hurt or embarrassed by the prank. This is particularly true in the current climate of “American Idol” reality TV when people are being ridiculed all the time and are supposed to just accept it.

So, if you’re in the mood for an April Fool’s joke today, keep in mind that it’s only funny if both people find it funny, otherwise it’s just hurtful.

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cutting research-sort of…

Posted by Dr. Susan on March 11, 2008

A newly reported study about cutting looks at the relationship between girls who cut, their serotonin levels and their relationships with their mothers. I VERY reluctantly provide this link to the Science Times which, in such unbelievably irresponsible reporting, in it’s headline, makes it seem as if it is primarily a poor mother-daughter relationship that leads a girl to cut. Thankfully, in the body of the article this is cleared up–in fact, the relationship between cutting and serotonin levels is stronger than that between cutting and a conflictual mom-daughter relationships. The combined relationship is the strongest.  Okay this makes sense. What isn’t explained, at least in the Science Times, is whether the girls had high serotonin levels before they began cutting (i.e.–they were predisposed to becoming cutters) or whether the cutting behavior changed their serotonin. Do the researchers know this? Next, I treat cutters–lots of cutters, so I know that their are MANY things that stress a cutter out, not just their relationship with their mothers. Yes, this can be a factor, but these researchers could just have easily studied dads, boyfriends, biology teachers, waking up early for school, finding the perfect outfit to wear…it’s possible that any of these, when combined with a teen biologically predisposed to cutting, could significantly increase the odds of her becoming a cutter or triggering an episode. Last, but not least, being a cutter does NOT make you suicidal. In fact, the vast majority of cutters do so to reduce their anxiety, depresssion or other emotional pain, sometimes to help themselves avoid becoming suicidal. This is part of why it is addictive. Other than this…not such a bad article, uh yeah.

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