The TIME Magazine cover article from December 5, 2011, by Alice Park titled The Two Faces of Anxiety has raised a bit of a ruckus online. Mostly, bloggers have questioned the choice to make Why Anxiety Is Good For You the cover art in the United States, while a graphic image of the Egyptian revolution was published in Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific editions. It has been questioned whether TIME believes Americans do not care about world events or are simply that self-focused. It seems to me that the editors of TIME simply believe “anxiety” is a buzzword that will sell in America, and apparently more than an uprising in Egypt. This seemed even more likely after watching the interview the senior editor of TIME did with CNN to discuss the problem of anxiety that they claim 18 percent of American adults suffer from.
To meditate is to disengage from a seemingly ever-present mental chatterbox and reflect on just one pure thought. If you think this sounds easy, stop reading this article for a moment and witness your thoughts. Are they jumping from subject to subject? Are you thinking in fragmented thoughts? Do thoughts randomly pop into your head for no apparent reason? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, the following information will be helpful to you.
Sit in a comfortable position, free from external distractions. Close your eyes and focus on one single thought, whether it is a word, image or repetitive sound.
Concentrate fully to keep your focus on this one thought without interruption. If you make it even just 30 seconds without any other thoughts entering your mind, you are doing remarkably well.
What to Expect
If at first you don’t succeed, simply try again. Meditation requires a tremendous amount of effort and repetition to master but yields great benefits, so be patient. It is not uncommon to want to just ditch the practice all together, as it can be extremely difficult to focus and concentrate. When your thoughts go willy-nilly, take a break and then try again later.
An article in the New York Times examined a National Institute of Mental Health study that now gives better insight as to why physical activity leads to happier, less anxious people. Although it is commonly known that exercise releases mood-boosting endorphins, many do not know why it occurs or the physical processes of the brain during a workout.
Researchers at the NIMH experimented on both aggressive and even-tempered male mice to find the answers. The dominant male mice got their own private cages, and when they were integrated with the others, they used several intimidation techniques against the defenseless mice. After two weeks of living with their aggressive neighbors, the skittish mice were severely nervous and stressed.
But another group of even-tempered mice were not as intimidated by the aggressive mice. This experimental group had been given an exercise wheel and an exploratory tube in their cage. Although the mice were submissive toward the more aggressive male rodents, they did not appear to be nervous.
Though many people don’t realize it, stress symptoms have a negative impact on your health. In the short-term, stress can cause fatigue, gastrointestinal discomfort and headaches, among other ailments. Over the long-term, stress can make you susceptible to more severe conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease and even some cancers.
While stress management is a powerful thing, not everyone has time to devote to techniques that have been proven to help, like yoga and meditation. Luckily, you can manage some of your stress with what you eat. When people think of eating to combat stress, they often think of comfort foods that are not typically very nutritious: ice cream, macaroni and cheese and calorie-laden mashed potatoes.
Luckily, there are a variety of healthy foods – even super foods – that can help your body manage your stress levels and help you prevent feeling the stress – physically and mentally.
Beyond avoiding alcohol, caffeine, fish, and soft cheeses, many women allow themselves some extra indulgences during pregnancy. New research from the Oregon National Primate Research Center, presented at the Society for Neuroscience annual conference in San Diego, may have expectant and nursing mothers re-thinking the fat content of their diets and how it will permanently affect their children’s behavior and level of anxiety, not just their long-term health.
According to Live Science, researchers created a high-fat diet based on what the typical American ingests for pregnant monkeys in the experimental group. “Even if we take the offspring, after they’re weaned from their mothers, and put them back onto a normal, healthy diet, their susceptibility to stress and anxiety still remains,” said researcher Kevin Grove. “This really appears to be a permanent issue that occurs in utero.”