Flitting about like a hummingbird, dancing around every thought, whim and compulsive urge is how many of us go about our day. With an extremely high level of external stimulation hitting us from all angles (the computer screen, cell phone beeps, television commercials, radio jingles, shimmering billboards, etc.), giving our brain a rest is getting harder and harder to do.
Some people just don’t take the time to sit quietly, and thoughtlessly yet mindfully examine their state of being. Many of us claim to be too busy, disinterested or skeptical of the benefits a little time out of mind can provide. But science continues to uncover the truth that sitting quietly, slowing our thoughts and relaxing our brain may do more for us than we think.
Meditation, from its rise in popularity in the late 1960’s to its revival among millions of modern peace seeking yogis, has proven beneficial on so many levels. It is not only physically relaxing, it also helps make us smarter and feel less stressed.
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This week I read an article at Yahoo! Shine titled Demi Moore: Hospitalized: Can Divorce Make You Sick? Of course, divorce can make you sick! Stress plays a major role in our physical health, and divorce is the second most stressful life event one can experience after the death of a spouse, according to the Homes and Rahe Stress Scale. On the other hand, I have talked with many clients who find the stress from a break up longer lasting because it includes rejection and the possibility of running into that person again. Loss of appetite and not eating are common after any break up. Many find sleep evasive as well. The strong emotional reaction can be physically exhausting, too.
Any time that we are stressed our immune system takes a hit, our digestion takes a hit, and our body is flooded with adrenaline which can have a variety of dangerous results. It was when I learned how adrenaline impacts our veins and arteries and increases the risk for blockage and heart attack that I stubbornly determined to control my stress. Perhaps it is because I am a therapist, but it seems that many people focus on the mental and emotional impact of stress, more than the physical impact of stress, which can have long term consequences. When dealing with daily stressors, it is essential to recover from the adrenaline response because most of the time “fight or flight” is not a helpful option whether you have a deadline, a complaining customer, or an argument with a spouse.
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Many of us are well into our New Year’s resolutions by now and are moving forward with a level of enthusiasm that only happens in January. While some of us have set our intentions to achieve more and workout harder, some of us are striving to take care of our health by doing less.
We all know that being stressed out can cause a myriad of diseases. From deadly heart attacks to frustrating low back pain, stress is a word many of us would like to think of as something in the past. A lot of Americans are perpetually anxious and it is a good choice to slow down and take it easy for a change. Thankfully there are more and more places available beyond the typical yoga studio or massage parlor where one can experience some blissful down time.
At Raffa Yoga in Cranston, Rhode Island for example, members now have access to a 15,000 square foot mansion of leisure, equipped with seven heated therapy rooms to rest and experience mind-body healing. “When we relax, we are more ourselves,” says Christine Raffa, owner of Raffa Yoga and founder of Urban Sweat, a new destination where people can gather and get away from the turmoil of life.
Urban Sweat, an integral part of Raffa Yoga, began with the intention to offer more opportunity to improve health and well-being, not by adding more yoga to the schedule or increasing the intensity of classes, but by providing a space for deep relaxation. Recognizing that many cultures maintain rituals and gathering places to rest, detoxify and cleanse, Raffa thought it would be of great importance to stressed out Americans to have a place of their own as a refuge for healing.
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Do you suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia? 21 million Americans do and for those unlucky few, 2012 is not going to be their year.
Friggatriskaidekaphobia is the name given to the fear of Friday the 13th. As our culture has continued a long time superstition regarding the number 13 and the belief that Friday the 13th is a very unlucky day, many find themselves stressed regarding this date. 2012 will have three occurrences of this day, starting this month with Friday, January 13th. April and July will also see a Friday the 13th.
While the date bothers many, there’s very little evidence that more bad things happen on Friday the 13th. In fact, some studies have found that fewer bad things occur on Friday the 13th verses any other Fridays of the year. Fewer fires and thefts, fewer accidents, and fewer driving incidents are reported on Friday the 13th.
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“Gluten-free diet linked to increased depression and eating disorders” – the headline immediately caught my attention. As I read the first article, I was theorizing in my head about the chemical impact of gluten and carbohydrates in our brains and bodies, as well as the mental strain of adhering to a strict diet and the extra effort it requires. I thought a correlation between depression and a gluten-free lifestyle was possible, I thought about all my friends and family members living gluten-free, and I started digging for the actual research to investigate the experimental method used. What I found was that the alarming headline was taken from partial statements made by an experimenter, but the entire findings were not taken into account.
Unfortunately, this can be common in the news media and blogosphere where the focus is more on attention-grabbing sound bites rather than in-depth analysis and education. It is my sincere hope that everything I write (here and elsewhere) and everything you read at DietsInReview is researched and thought out, and we are not jumping to conclusions or publishing alarmist headlines simply because it is provocative.
In this case, the research found that those women with celiac disease (177 surveyed) who were most compliant with a gluten-free diet reported “increased vitality, lower stress, decreased depressive symptoms, and greater overall emotional health,” according to Josh Smyth of Penn State. This sounds like the opposite of the alarmist headline that grabbed my attention. The caveat is that those surveyed, even those managing celiac disease well through a gluten-free lifestyle, reported “higher rates of stress, depression, and a range of issues clustered around body dissatisfaction, weight and shape” compared to the general population.”
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