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Gratitude…Antidote to Stress and Anxiety

Gratitude: Simple Things Become Extraordinary!

by Michael Gusack

Good Day (or evening) !

When you are distressed and anxious and upset with your current situation, you often hear that you need to  “count your blessings”. That is supposed to ease your concerns. Today, for a moment, consider this.

Gratitude can perhaps best be cultivated when you appreciate the simple things in life. The ordinary things. These are the things…or people…you normally take for granted:

* A bed to sleep in
* The ability to breathe in a breath of fresh air…your lungs, your mouth, your nose
* A car to drive so you don’t have to walk long distances
* The Earth your feet can touch…Thank You!
* Breakfast…Yes!
* Your children…especially the one who drives you crazy:-)
* Your life partner…Eckhart Tolle says “Relationships are not there to make us happy. They are there to make us conscious.” So many opportunities:-)
* Being conscious (while awake…no sleep walking:-)
* Sleep…Ahhh!
* Eyesight
* Your heart…what an amazing machine
* Hearing…my hearing aids help me appreciate what hearing I have
* A cool breeze

And so on. And if you are lacking something on the above list, then, certainly, the idea is to appreciate what you DO have in the interest of balance and perspective.

Here’s a practice I learned years ago as a walking meditation:

1. As you walk with each left or right step in sequence repeat 3 times
Thank You!, Thank You!, Thank You! (appreciation to the Earth for being there for your feet to touch…or, of course anything or anyone you appreciate for which your are grateful).

2. Then, as you step repeat 3 times
Yes! Yes! Yes! (appreciation to Life (GOD) for sustaining each step, each breath)

You can just as easily practice while you walk in circles in your living room as in your neighborhood or on the street or sidewalk or trail.

When you no longer take your life for granted, each moment is miraculous. The ordinary becomes extraordinary. Each moment is a gift. If you embrace all that you take for granted, it definitely takes the edge off your stress level, your anxiety, your upset.

And it’s best to practice this when “you don’t need to”…because you actually always need to. Best to be conscious of how precious are friends, family, health and peace (in any moment we have it).

Be Well,
Mike

Stress is Shrinking Your Brain, Changing Its Structure

The Good News: Exercise Can Literally Rebuild Brain Tissue

Brainstorm

The more we learn about stress, the more we learn about it’s destructive potential. We observe how it affects your emotional and physical reactivity.

You get cranky and irritable. You become anxious. Your energy level drops. These observations are fairly straightforward and obvious. The research is demonstrating how it actually shrinks you brain. You can literally be “losing your mind”.

Here you will learn about some of those effects as well as how exercise can protect you from the effects of stress as well as actually repair the damage. Very cool.

Check out this article to learn the details and how just a little exercise goes a long way.

Stress is affecting your brain much more than you think. Sure, you’ve experienced the distraction, forgetfulness, negativity or anxiety that comes from stressful situations, but did you know it’s also shrinking your brain? Hormones released in response to stress not only affect brain function, they also change the physical structure of your brain.

The stress hormone cortisol can kill, shrink, and stop the generation of new neurons in a portion of the brain called the hippocampus. The hippocampus is critical for learning, memory and emotional regulation, as well as shutting off the stress response after a stressful event is over: all much-needed processes in both our professional and personal lives.

Chronic stress can also shrink the medial prefrontal cortex. This negatively affects decision making, working memory, and control of impulsive behavior.These brain alterations can have significant consequences on the way we interact with others, our ability to learn, remember, make decisions and accomplish long-term goals. They also make it more difficult to successfully manage stressful situations in the future, leading to a vicious cycle.

Fortunately, we’ve discovered a very effective antidote to these negative effects: exercise. Exercise can help build a stress-resistant brain in addition to increasing cognitive function and brain size. Exercise helps spur the release of a substance called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which helps in the development of healthy brain tissue and reverses the negative effects of stress.  Think of it as fertilizer for the brain. It keeps existing neurons vital and healthy and also encourages the growth of new ones.

And thankfully you don’t have to do hour-long workouts to get many of these benefits. A recent analysis of 10 studies found that five-minute doses of exercise have the biggest effect on enhancing mood and combating stress. (7) Whenever you have a few minutes, do something that gets your heart rate up and/or challenges your muscles. It’s a positive, constructive way to deal with stress and can help keep you from losing your mind!

 

Read the entire article here…this will also give you access to the research on which it is based.

Marriage of Service & Joy

“I slept and dreamt…”

Smaller Tagore

 

And this dream then leads  you where???  To live a life of service is to live life to it’s fullest.

As you take on responsibility for taking good care of your brothers and sisters…the family of man,

you find that you are also taking good care of yourself. Your compassion becomes the door to

a life that is complete and there’s the joy in it. This is not self denial. As it turns out this is how

you can best serve your own interests as well because they are no longer separate from others.

 

Comments are welcomed. Let’s engage.