Reduce Stress & Strengthen Your Immune System:
10 Ways to Relax & Rejuvenate
Stress seems to have become a constant factor in today’s fast-paced society. If left unchecked, it can wreak havoc upon our health. Learning how to effectively manage stress can mean the difference between being robust and full of life, or becoming susceptible to illness and disease. Stress can weaken the immune system and accelerate the aging process. The ability to relax and rejuvenate promotes wellness, vitality and longevity.
A healthy immune system regulates our body’s healing process and protects it against infections and diseases. When stress compromises our immune function, it can result in colds, flu, fatigue, cardiovascular disorders and premature aging. Stress increases heart rate, blood pressure, glucose levels, adrenaline, cortisol, free radicals and oxidative damage. This initiates the “fight or flight” response, places undue strain upon the heart, and can also increase the feelings of anxiety and depression.
Protecting the immune system is a vital part of living longer, feeling younger and being healthy. Here are ten natural healthy ways to reduce stress, boost your immune system and slow down the hands of time… READ MORE: http://www.thevegetariansite.com/health_stress.htm
31 Ways to Boost Your Mood Naturally
Feeling down? These strategies may helphttp://www.health.com/health/calendar/0„20351621,00.html
If you’re feeling stressed, maybe the best thing you can do is crack a smile.
New research shows that smiling — and especially genuine smiling (where your eyes and mouth muscles are engaged) — may play a part in lowering heart rate after you’ve done something stressful. The study will be published in the journal Psychological Science.
“The next time you are stuck in traffic or are experiencing some other type of stress, you might try to hold your face in a smile for a moment,” study researcher Sarah Pressman, of the University of Kansas, said in a statement. “Not only will it help you ‘grin and bear it’ psychologically, but it might actually help your heart health as well!”
The study included 169 university students who were first trained to hold chopsticks with their mouths (the chopsticks forced them to smile). The researchers trained them to either smile in a standard fashion (where just the mouth is in a smile, but no other facial muscles are being used), a Duchenne smile (where the mouth and eye muscles are used, apparent in a “genuine” smile), or a neutral expression.
Then, the researchers had the study participants continue to have the chopsticks in their mouths as they did a series of stressful tasks, such as putting their hands in ice water.
The researchers found that those who were trained to smile — and especially those who were trained to smile the Duchenne way — had a lower heart rate after the activities.
And while you’re at it, maybe you should laugh some, too. Research shows that laughing has a myriad of health benefits, from lowering stress to easing pain to boosting your immune system, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Plus, a study from researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center found that people with heart disease are less likely to laugh than people without the condition — thereby suggesting there could be a link between laughing and heart health.
“We know that exercising, not smoking and eating foods low in saturated fat will reduce the risk of heart disease,” Dr. Michael Miller, director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at UMMC, said in a statement. “Perhaps regular, hearty laughter should be added to the list.”…… http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/31/smiling-stress-smile-heart-rate_n_1724808.html?utm_hp_ref=healthy-living&ncid=edlinkusaolp00000008
A new clinical trial among patients with heart failure shows that regular exercise helps alleviate depressive symptoms and prevent hospitalizations and death
It’s no surprise that upbeat, motivated people find it easier to get out and exercise. But exercise itself can actually improve mood and motivation as well, particularly for people with heart failure, a new study shows.
The finding is exciting not only because depression is very common and can be deeply debilitating among people with heart failure — up to 40% are clinically depressed and three-quarters score higher than average on tests of depressive symptoms, according to background information in the study — but it’s also consistent with previous research suggesting that exercise may be effective as a treatment for depression more widely.
“This study shows that exercise is associated not only with physical health benefits, but important mental health benefits as well,” lead study author James Blumenthal told reporters. The findings are published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
For the new study, more than 2,000 patients with heart failure across the U.S., Canada and France were tested for possible depression and then were randomly assigned to receive either usual care for their heart condition, or usual care plus a program of aerobic exercise — either riding a stationary bike or using a treadmill. After three months and again after 12 months, the study participants were followed up for depressive symptoms. The exercise group saw modest but statistically unambiguous reductions in depressive symptoms compared with the group that didn’t exercise.
After 30 months, when the study concluded, the exercise group was also found to have a very slightly lower risk of hospitalization and of death. This difference, although small, was also statistically unambiguous, in that there was a large enough number of people in the trial that it’s unlikely the finding was due to chance alone.
Blumenthal, a psychology professor at Duke University Medical Center, added that exercise has been shown to be safe for people with heart failure, and that exercise does not need to be strenuous or a huge time commitment for patients to see a difference.
“It doesn’t require intensive training for a marathon to derive benefits,” he said. “We’re talking about three, 30-minute sessions for an accumulated 90 minutes a week. And the results are significant improvements in mental health, reduced hospitalizations and fewer deaths.”
This latest experiment in JAMA is not the first to test the effects of exercise on depression, either. In 1999, in fact, Blumenthal and other colleagues published results from a trial of people who suffered from major depressive disorder, without heart failure. There too, the researchers found that aerobic exercise helped to alleviate depressive symptoms somewhat — working just as well as front-line antidepressant drugs.
With the new findings among heart-failure patients, the clinical investigators write that they can “confirm and extend previous research,” by showing the benefits of exercise in a vulnerable population, where the burden of depression is very large.
In their JAMA article, the study authors warn that the difference between patients assigned to exercise and those assigned to usual care was still “modest” and that “the clinical significance of this small improvement is not known.” However, they add, because the effects did seem to persist over a full year of follow-up, there’s cause for optimism. This difference, they write, “is likely to be associated with better social functioning and higher quality of life.”
“Trying very hard to control stress will, in and of itself, create stress. Use comprehensive stress management to free up, rather than clutter up, your day.”
- Jerrold S. Greenburg, “Comprehensive Stress Management”
Healthy Lifestyle: 6 Great Ways to Start Your Day
A Healthy Lifestyle Starts Each Morning!
The way you spend your morning can add a certain flavor to the rest of your day. Here are some healthy lifestyle habits to incorporate into your morning routine that can leave you better able to handle the stress you experience. Try one or several, and experiment until you find what suits you…. http://stress.about.com/od/lowstresslifestyle/a/morningroutines.htm
Start With a Better Morning Routine
If your days are stressful and rushed, consider a fresh, new approach to your morning routine. Start with a healthy breakfast and morning exercise, and you will set a positive tone for the rest of your day. The way you start the morning can have a big impact on the rest of your day. If you begin every day feeling harried and rushed instead of productive and streamlined, it may be time to revamp your morning routine. Start by getting into action with simple activities like taking a walk, going to the gym, or practicing an invigorating morning exercise, such as tai chi or yoga. These activities can help you feel focused and ready to meet the challenges of your day. Be sure to power up with a healthy breakfast to give your body the fuel it needs.
What causes stress?
Feelings of stress are caused by the body’s instinct to defend itself. This instinct is good in emergencies, such as getting out of the way of a speeding car. But stress can cause unhealthy physical symptoms if it goes on for too long, such as in response to life’s daily challenges and changes.
When this happens, it’s as though your body gets ready to jump out of the way of the car, but you’re sitting still. Your body is working overtime, with no place to put all the extra energy. This can make you feel anxious, afraid, worried and uptight.
What changes may be stressful?
Any sort of change can make you feel stressed, even good change. It’s not just the change or event itself, but also how you react to it that matters. What’s stressful is different for each person. For example, one person may feel stressed by retiring from work, while someone else may not.
Other things that may be stressful include being laid off from your job, your child leaving or returning home, the death of your spouse, divorce or marriage, an illness, an injury, a job promotion, money problems, moving, or having a baby.
Can stress hurt my health?
Stress can cause health problems or make health problems worse. Talk to your family doctor if you think some of your symptoms are caused by stress. It’s important to make sure that your symptoms aren’t caused by other health problems.
Possible signs of stress
- Back pain
- Constipation or diarrhea
- High blood pressure
- Trouble sleeping or insomnia
- Problems with relationships
- Shortness of breath
- Stiff neck or jaw
- Upset stomach
- Weight gain or loss
What can I do to manage my stress?
The first step is to learn to recognize when you’re feeling stressed. Early warning signs of stress include tension in your shoulders and neck, or clenching your hands into fists.
The next step is to choose a way to deal with your stress. One way is to avoid the event or thing that leads to your stress—but often this is not possible. A second way is to change how you react to stress. This is often the more practical way.
Tips for dealing with stress
- Don’t worry about things you can’t control, such as the weather.
- Solve the little problems. This can help you gain a feeling of control.
- Prepare to the best of your ability for events you know may be stressful, such as a job interview.
- Try to look at change as a positive challenge, not as a threat.
- Work to resolve conflicts with other people.
- Talk with a trusted friend, family member or counselor.
- Set realistic goals at home and at work. Avoid overscheduling.
- Exercise on a regular basis.
- Eat regular, well-balanced meals and get enough sleep.
- Participate in something you don’t find stressful, such as sports, social events or hobbies.
Why is exercise useful?
Exercise is a good way to deal with stress because it’s a healthy way to relieve your pent-up energy and tension. Exercise is known to release feel-good brain chemicals. It also helps you get in better shape, which makes you feel better overall.
Steps to deep breathing
- Lie down on a flat surface.
- Place a hand on your stomach, just above your navel. Place the other hand on your chest.
- Breathe in slowly and try to make your stomach rise a little.
- Hold your breath for a second.
- Breathe out slowly and let your stomach go back down.
What is meditation?
Meditation is a form of guided thought. It can take many forms. You can do it with exercise that uses the same motions over and over, like walking or swimming. You can meditate by practicing relaxation training, by stretching or by breathing deeply.
Relaxation training is simple. Start with one muscle. Hold it tight for a few seconds then relax the muscle. Do this with each of your muscles, beginning with the toes and feet and working your way up through the rest of your body, one muscle group at a time.
Stretching can also help relieve tension. Roll your head in a gentle circle. Reach toward the ceiling and bend side to side slowly. Roll your shoulders.
Deep, relaxed breathing by itself may help relieve stress (see the box to the right). This helps you get plenty of oxygen and activates the relaxation response, the body’s antidote to stress.
If you want more help treating stress symptoms, ask your family doctor for advice.