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10 Tricks Successful People Use To Stay Calm In Stressful Situations

From wall street traders to firefighters to surgeons, the ability to stay calm in a difficult situation can mean the difference between success and failure and sometimes even life and death.

While research has shown that the brain functions best when it is in a moderate state of arousal (not too stressed, but not too calm), most people describe their work life as being highly stressful. So how do the most successful people keep their cool under pressure?

These 10 tips will reveal their secrets.

1. STAY POSITIVE

Instead of counting your challenges, and letting them defeat you, look at obstacles as opportunities to learn . A negative outlook is the best way to cause a snowball effect into feeling overwhelmed. Any problem is chance for you to shine. Have confidence in your ability and other’s will too. Instead of thinking “why me?” start thinking “bring it on!”

2. AVOID THE CAFFEINE ROLLER-COASTER

Energy spikes and crashes are the last thing you need when you have a lot on your plate. Isn’t daily life enough of a roller-coaster? Furthermore, caffeine stimulates the very areas of your brain that cause you to feel overwhelmed in the first place. Ditch the energy swings–Opt for water instead.

3. BE LIGHTHEARTED

One of the most effective ways to handle difficult, stressful situations is to laugh. You should always be aware of fear and use it, not let it use you. Learn to manage your fear through humor. Laughter releases hormones that calm you down and put you back in control.

4. IDENTIFY THE STRESSOR

Try to Zero-in on what is causing your stress. As always, identifying the problem is the first step to solving the problem. Being able to identify the enemy allows you to figure out what its weaknesses are and which of your strengths are most likely to be useful in any given situation. Just like with a child who is afraid of the dark, things are never as scary when you fully understand them.

Furious arguing business team and CEO meditating in lotus position on the table

Furious arguing business team and CEO meditating in lotus position on the table

5. DECOMPRESS

Take some time to step back from the situation and relax. This will help you get reorient and get a fresh view. Take a walk, read a book, watch a movie, or, even better, meditate. It is critical to do something that takes your mind off the situation that is getting you worked up and stressed out. You will find that you are much more effective at problem solving once you have taken time to rejuvenate your mind.

6. REFRAME THE SITUATION

After taking time to decompress, you will probably find that you have a different perspective on a challenging situation. Try to embrace new ways of thinking while viewing problems from many angles. You may realize that you had been attacking a challenge inefficiently and come up with a better more focused approach.

7. MAKE A PLAN

When you fully understand what you’re confronting, you can start to develop a step-by-step plan to your goal. One method highly successful people use is back-casting. Back-casting is where you think about and focus your goal and identify each step you need to reach on the way to achieving it. From this point, it becomes much easier to determine when each step needs to be completed to stay on track. Nothing eases stress quite like a clear plan of attack.

8. GET ENOUGH SLEEP

You may have deadlines to meet and people to impress, but that doesn’t mean that you should sacrifice sleep to get there. Losing sleep not only damages your health, it also decreases your effectiveness. A tired mind, incapable of thinking clearly, just makes it more difficult to stay calm. We learn and adapt best when we are rested.

9. ASK FOR HELP

Being afraid to ask for help is one of the best ways to feel overwhelmed. Take advantage of a great asset–the people in your network who have skills and knowledge that you don’t. More often than not, people are happy to help in any way they can. Knowing that you have a solid network that has your back can really reduce stress.

10. MENTALLY PREPARE

Prior to a project even beginning, highly successful people train their brains to stay calm when the pressure is on. It comes naturally with experience, but it’s also something you can develop consciously. Developing your mind for stressful situations can be fun too. Find games that encourage mental flexibility and utilize a time limit. The app store on your phone has loads of puzzles and games that can help sharpen your brain-power.

By Adam Buschbacher      November 16, 2015
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Stress Reduction is More Important Than Eating Well

Your stress is doing more harm than your diet is doing good. A recent study published in Nature makes the claim that stress can actually override healthy food choices. Yes, that means the chronic stress in your lifestyle has the potential to be far more damaging than that (large) piece of cake you had this weekend.

In the published study, 58 women were given a survey to determine their recent stress levels. Then, on separate days, they were given either a meal very high in saturated fat or a meal very high in plant fats (sunflower seed oil). When women were not stressed the day prior, only those who consumed the saturated fat exhibited increased inflammation markers. However, when women were stressed, both meals were associated with significantly increased inflammation markers, namely C-reactive protein. So, the study seems to suggest that the inflammatory action of chronic stress overrides the benefits of healthier dietary choices.

Whether or not you agree with the study’s assumptions (that saturated fats are unanimously unhealthy and plant-based oils are unanimously healthful), this study does make one startling point: stress has an incredibly powerful inflammatory response in our bodies. So powerful that it may actually override a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet.

stress

However, since neither of the meals consumed in the study were extravagantly ‘healthy,’ it would be interesting to see the study conducted with a meal loaded with vibrant, rainbow-colored produce in place of the plant oil meal to see if it would yield different results. It seems logical that the benefits of a sub-par, extremely high fat meal (60 grams), plant-based or not, cannot provide enough anti-inflammatory support to combat the effects of stress. However, with the potent anti-inflammatory effect of green plants, would stress still have such a devastatingly inflammatory effect? It would make an interesting study also to differentiate inflammatory saturated fats and anti-inflammatory saturated fats, rather than demonizing all saturated fats as harbingers of disease.

Regardless, it’s safe to say that no matter what your diet may be, stress management needs to be included in your lifestyle. Stress is a powerful and underestimated force in our lives. Find mindful practices such as yoga, exercise, social support, meditation and journaling to keep yourself mindful and balanced. And remember, moderation is the key with everything. Stress is an invisible danger, so we all should do our best to keep it in check.

This brings us to an interesting discussion. When you cheat on your diet and eat something ‘bad,’ and you notice the mental and physical mal-effects the next day, would you feel such unpleasant symptoms if you weren’t so stressed and guilt-ridden about eating something ‘bad’? Could a lot of the difficulties we experience in diet struggles be linked to the inflammatory and mentally-impeding effects of stress? I’d wager that stress plays a deeper role in our ailments than we have yet realized.

By: Jordyn Cormier     October 3, 2016
source: www.care2.com


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6 Steps to Stress Less and Stay Motivated

Stress. It’s that slap-in-the-face feeling you get when there are too many demands, too many people to please, and too little time to get it all done.

This is not a pleasant or productive state to be in.

Sure, a little stress can be motivating and even energizing, but even working best under pressure has its limits. Eventually, it becomes physically, mentally, and emotionally draining.

When you reach that point, you don’t want to do anything. You’re tense, on edge, and mentally blocked.

If you’ve hit your stress limit, here’s a quick checklist to keep yourself calm and moving on:

1. Remember that you are enough.

When you’re stuck in not-good-enough mode, it can feel like you’re always doing something wrong. This only makes a stressful situation worse.

It’s a vicious cycle, and soon all you seem to see are your flaws. You feel weak and defeated. You lose motivation, energy, and creativity, and you’re convinced that you can’t cut it.

What if this time you remembered that you are enough? What would you do differently when things get tough?

You have nothing but stress to lose by trying.

2. Put on your own mask first.

You can’t do anything unless you are taking care of yourself. It’s nearly impossible to think clearly and stay motivated when you aren’t fueling, resting, and recharging your body and mind.

When your gut reaction to stress is hunkering down and pushing harder to get through it, it usually means doing less of the things that improve your mood and outlook on the situation. This might work for a little while, but eventually you get burned out.

Break the cycle by handling stress strategically. Ask yourself what one thing you could change about your self-care to help you through this stressful time. Give it the time it deserves as you test out that change.

Your body, mind, and productivity will thank you for it.

take_care_of_yourself

3. Let go of

No matter where you are in life, “should” and “supposed to” usually end in stress. This self-talk adds pain to an already upsetting situation.

This may surprise you, but “should” also helps you solve problems a lot less than you might think. Rather than facing a problem head-on as it is, it gets you frustrated about what it is not. This gets you nowhere fast.

Relieve your stress and keep up your motivation by making the move from should to solution. Ask what you can do about the situation as it is right now.

 4. Let go of comparison and competition.

Comparison and competition can be motivating when the conditions are right, but they sure can backfire. They can put you under constant pressure and make it feel like your entire worth as a person hinges on keeping up. When this goes too far, it’s defeating, not inspiring.

Having the drive to excel isn’t the problem here. The problems come when you focus more about the outcome than the process of getting there. When you can’t celebrate the small victories, be kind to yourself in the face of failure, or remember your unique strengths, you have the perfect conditions for losing motivation and feeling stressed.

If this sounds familiar, give yourself a time-out to think about what makes you who you are, what is meaningful to you, and what else you could be doing with your time and energy if you got off the hamster wheel of comparison/competition.

5. Reevaluate your expectations.

When you’re stressed, reevaluating expectations can feel a little too much like settling, so remember this: adapting your expectations to meet reality is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of intelligence! Sometimes the most effective way to stay on track is to pivot and try again with a fresh perspective.

You could tell yourself that you should have been able to meet your expectations exactly as they were, but life rarely plays by those rules. Rather than arguing with life about it, take a moment to adjust. Shift your perspective by taking the situation as it is and coming up with your best plan from there.

6. Slow down.

Stress can happen when you get ahead of yourself and take on too much at once.
It isn’t that you’re not capable of doing these things but that the combination of things, timing, and circumstances right now is just not working for you.

The result? Overwhelm. Indecision. Paralysis.

To slow down, focus on what’s right in front of you. Where are you today? What’s going to work right here?

Think of it as doing what works rather than trying to do everything all at once. Set small goals that fit into the bigger picture, and celebrate as you reach them. It’s so much more effective (and motivating) that way.

JUNE 5, 2016      BY LESLIE ROMERO RALPH
Leslie shows working moms how to bust those superwoman myths 
and bring back the balance and joy with her signature blend of real-life positive psychology tips 
and guilt-free meditations at A Year of Happy. .


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5 Best Vitamins For Stress Relief

There are a number of ways that stress can cause problems for your health. It can cause everything from depression and restlessness to headaches, over-eating, sore muscles, and insomnia. It can eventually lead to even more serious problems like heart attacks, which is why it’s important to talk to your doctor if you do have a lot of stress in your life. You can also start adding more nutritious foods to your diet that contain these stress-relieving vitamins.

1. VITAMIN C

A study presented to the American Chemical Society by Samuel Campbell, Ph.D. in the University of Alabama in Huntsville in 1999 revealed that vitamin C can help to normalize the levels of the hormones which are released during stress and that cause many of the health problems mentioned above. The study found that both cortisol and corticosterone levels were reduced with regular consumption of vitamin C.

Foods that contain high levels of vitamin C include mangoes, oranges, leafy greens, and cranberries.

2. VITAMIN A

Vitamin A is well-known for being a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants help your body deal with stress and the changes in the body that are caused by stress. By eating foods that are high in vitamin A, you will help your body fight against the stress hormones and get your hormone levels back to normal.

Foods that contain high levels of vitamin A include pumpkin, fish oils, meat, carrots, pink grapefruit, eggs, and halibut.

stress-eating-prevents-weight-loss

3. VITAMIN B1

This vitamin helps with stress relief so much that it’s often referred to as being an “anti-stress vitamin.” What vitamin B1 does is that it helps your body deal with stress by encouraging your body to produce more adenosine triphosphate. This chemical is what carries energy into your cells so that they can function properly. Vitamin B1 can also help strengthen your immune system.


Foods that contain high levels of vitamin B1 include pork, enriched cereals, and wheat germ.

4. VITAMIN B6

Also known as pyridoxine, vitamin B6 helps boost your body’s production of norephinephrine and serotonin. These two hormones are both extremely important mood regulators, and not having enough can lead to stress and depression. Because vitamin B6 actually helps to build serotonin, it’s a vital part of reducing the effects of stress in your life.

Foods that contain high levels of vitamin B6 include carrots, sunflower seeds, shrimp, tuna, turkey, and spinach.

5. VITAMIN B12

This vitamin is an essential component to healthy brain function. It not only helps people cope with depression, but it can also prevent dementia and confusion. Unfortunately, there are many people that suffer from a vitamin B12 deficiency such as the elderly, those with gastrointestinal conditions or pernicious anemia, and vegetarians and vegans. The elderly lack sufficient amounts of hydrochloric acids in their stomachs which is what helps absorb this vitamin, and vegetarians and vegans may not be getting enough vitamin B12 since it is found primarily in animal products. Because of its importance, it is recommended that you take a vitamin B12 supplement in addition to including foods that are rich in vitamin B12.

Foods that contain high levels of vitamin B12 include red meat, fish, poultry, milk, eggs, and fortified cereals.


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Managing Your Emotions Can Save Your Heart

We often think of the heart and brain as being completely separate from each other. After all, your heart and brain are located in different regions of your body, and cardiology and neurology are separate disciplines. Yet these organs are intimately connected, and when your emotions adversely affect your brain, your heart is affected as well.

The negative impact of emotions when your heart is already vulnerable

There are two kinds of stress that impact your brain. Helpful stress (also known as eustress) can assist you with getting things done by helping you focus your attention. Unhelpful stress (distress), on the other hand, can be so severe that it can lead to fatigue and heart disease.

If you have coronary artery disease (CAD), your heart may be deprived of oxygen. This deprivation, called myocardial ischemia, can occur in as many as 30% to 50% of all patients with CAD. It can be further exacerbated by emotional stress. In fact, if you have any type of heart disease, any strong emotion such as anger may also cause severe and fatal irregular heart rhythms. Expressions like “died from fright” and “worried to death” are not just hyperbole — they are physiologic possibilities. Furthermore, when patients with newly diagnosed heart disease become depressed, that depression increases the risk that a harmful heart-related event will occur within that year.

The negative impact of emotions when you have no heart disease

Of course, stress can have a big effect on your heart even if you don’t have heart disease. Here’s just one example: In 1997, cardiologist Lauri Toivonen and colleagues conducted a study of EKG changes in healthy physicians before and during the first 30 seconds of an emergency call. They saw changes that indicated oxygen deprivation and abnormal heart rhythms.

More recent studies have also observed these changes in the setting of with stress, anxiety, and depression — all of which are, of course, brain-based conditions. Even in people with no prior heart disease, major depression doubles the risk of dying from heart-related causes.

mirror mirror

 

Cardiac psychology: Tending to your emotions for your heart’s sake

It is important to control your worry and stress, not just because you will worry less and feel better, but because less worry means less stress for your heart. This applies to the entire range of stressors, from a small episode of acute panic to a larger context such as living through a natural disaster. For all the reasons outlined above, a new emotion-based approach to heart health, called cardiac psychology, is receiving increasing interest.

You really can change your brain and get a healthier heart in the process. Here are some ways to get started:

  • Seek professional help. Don’t ignore stress, anxiety, depression, excessive worry, or bouts of anger that overwhelm your life. Seek professional help. If you meet criteria for a diagnosis, treatment can help reduce symptoms, thereby protecting your brain and your heart.
  • Available treatments in cardiac psychology. Aside from more traditional psychiatric treatment and exercise, psycho-educational programs, educational training, stress management, biofeedback, counseling sessions, and relaxation techniques should all be considered before or after a heart-related event. Newer treatments such as acceptance and commitment therapy and expressive writing can also be helpful.
  • Exercise. Physical exercise can help you have a healthier heart and brain — in the right doses. For example, many recent studies have demonstrated that aerobic exercise can help you be more mentally nimble by helping you think faster and more flexibly. Even frail older adults have improved their thinking and overall psychological well-being from exercising for one hour, three times a week. And people in rehabilitation after being diagnosed with heart failure report clearer thinking when their fitness levels improve.As clinical research scientist Michelle Ploughman commented, “exercise is brain food.” Various types of aerobic exercise, including jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, gardening, and dancing, have all been proven to reduce anxiety and depression and to improve self-esteem. This is thought to be due to an increase in blood circulation in the brain, and the fact that exercise can improve the brain’s ability to react to stress.

 

A starting point for better brain — and heart — health

If you struggle with stress, anger, anxiety, worry, depression, or problems with self-esteem, talk to your primary care physician — or a cardiologist, if you have one. A consultation with a psychiatrist may be very helpful. Together, you can explore which of these potential therapies might best protect your psychological state, your brain, and your heart.

Srini Pillay, MD, Contributor     @srinipillay     MAY 09, 2016  


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10 Ways Mentally Strong People Handle Stress

Handling stress poorly can negatively affect your well-being, but the good news is that you can learn the 10 ways that mentally strong people deal with stress and start using these techniques today.

Stress that is unmanaged can lead to physical health problems like high blood pressure, but can chronic stress can also develop into depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. Rather than continue to handle stress poorly, let’s look at the 10 ways that mentally strong people handle stress effectively.

10 WAYS MENTALLY STRONG PEOPLE HANDLE STRESS

1. ACCEPT THAT STRESSFUL EVENTS WILL HAPPEN
We all know that things are bound to happen to upset even the most planned out day, but mentally strong people acknowledge this up front. There is going to be something unplanned for that happens to you, but you can begin planning for it now. Tell yourself now that although you know something stressful may happen today, you are prepared to handle it.

2. USE MULTIPLE STRESS MANAGEMENT TOOLS
Researchers in the Journal of Occupational Medicine studied workplace stress management programs and found that one that included goal setting, problem solving, identifying and questioning negative thoughts, relaxation, and time management was helpful for people to handle stress effectively. This strategy of using multiple techniques to handle stress is one that mentally strong people employ all the time.

3. TAKE CONTROL
Mentally strong people look at what is causing the stress and look for ways to prevent it from happening again. By making changes in their environment, they can avoid or reduce causes of stress.

4. AFFIRMATIONS
Use positive self-talk to remind yourself of just how capable you are when stressful situations come up. For example, say ‘I’ve handled situations like this before and I know I can handle this just fine too.’

5. TIME MANAGEMENT
Much of our perceived stress comes from not having enough time to get done what we want to get done. By planning ahead for lost time, we can make sure that we have enough time in the day for everything, without being stressed when something does inevitably delay us.

For example, if you have a full schedule and worry about being late to your next appointment, next time book your day with 20-30 minute gaps of time in between appointments. That way if there is too much traffic, the delay won’t seem as stressful to you due to the extra time that you planned in to your day.

Stress

Stress

6. SOCIAL SUPPORT
Researchers studying how people handle stress found that a strong social support network was linked to mental well-being. Some people find it challenging to ask for help because they like to be self-reliant. We all need help at some point, so being able to recognize when you have reached a significant stress-level and ask for help to get yourself back to a calm state is an excellent skill that mentally strong people use to handle stress.

7. THEY DO NOT AVOID STRESS
The same study that showed that social support helped mentally strong people to handle stress found that if they used the technique of avoiding things that they thought of as stressful, their mental well-being decreased significantly.

Avoiding is just a way of delaying handling stress. Running away from a problem never solved anything so choosing to face your worries and acknowledge the uncomfortable feelings while using another coping strategy is better for your mental strength.

8. SEE THOUGHTS ABOUT STRESS AS TEMPORARY
Thoughts come and go and some are terribly negative. Our awareness of our negative thoughts about stress is an excellent skill to have. This mindfulness can then be taken to the next level. Rather than avoid or repress negative thoughts about stress, see them as temporary mental events that will be gone fairly soon.

This is a strategy called ‘decentering’ by psychologists, where we challenge negative thoughts. We can choose to accept our negative thoughts as fact, or we can acknowledge that we were making a bigger deal than we needed to about the stressful event, and allow that thought to pass away from our minds like a cloud.

9. LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE
This one stressful event is not going to change the course of your life all by itself. You are still a fantastically talented, creative and intelligent person who just had a negative experience. Mentally strong people know that although the surface of the ocean is turbulent, deep down it is calm.

10. THEY FIND WAYS TO ADD JOY
Adding a few moments of laughter to a stressful day can be all it takes to handles stress well. Even in the midst of a crisis, being able to laugh at yourself for how you overreact or misjudge something is a way to shift from a negative mindset to a positive one. For example you might say, ‘Well that was silly of me to forget my wallet, but hey, at least I noticed it before I was at the cash register with a full shopping cart.’

JUNE 28, 2016      source: www.powerofpositivity.com


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This One Childhood Experience Turns Out to Have Major Consequences Later in Life

According to results of a new study, you might want to rethink before moving your family around at a vulnerable time.

In 2014, according to a United States national census, more than 11% of Americans relocated across state borders. In our mobile society, this might seem like par for the course—no cause for alarm. But what about the effects such internal migration has on children later in life? Washington Post writer Christopher Ingraham recently asked this very question. His conclusion: In the long run, it’s bad for the kids.

For the article, Ingraham drew on the findings of a recent study published by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine that addressed the effects of moving one’s family around. In the study, a team of researchers conducted a comprehensive analysis using information gathered from everyone in Denmark born between 1971-1997 (which is only marginally less impressive when you consider that the country is around a third the size of New York state.) The team looked at the ratio rates of “attempted suicide, violent criminality, psychiatric illness, substance misuse, and natural and unnatural deaths” within this data set.

Their conclusion? Based on the “uniquely complete and accurate registration of all residential changes in [Denmark’s] population,” the team found that moving during childhood was directly tied to an increase in all of these measured negative outcomes later in life. And repeated moves in the course of a year — even worse. The team further found that children are most vulnerable at ages 12-14, with those who moved at 14 experiencing double the risk of suicide by middle age.

Young man in the dark

As Ingraham duly noted, however, while the study took into account parents’ income and psychiatric history as a control, the data was unable to provide information on the reasoning behind the moves. Ingraham illustrated this flaw by pointing to previous research conducted in the United States, which shows that beyond the act of moving itself, environment plays a far greater role in childhood development and its implications for adulthood. In other words, the positive effects of moving during childhood to a less violent neighborhood far outweigh any negative consequences. Of course, this oversight could also be attributed to Denmark having a generally lower rate of violent crime.

One of the study’s findings likely to carry more weight in the U.S. and abroad concerns the effects of changing schools. For these purposes, the study only considered moves across municipal boundaries, which meant a change in the child’s school district. Here the authors concluded:

“Relocated adolescents often face a double stress of adapting to an alien environment, a new school, and building new friendships and social networks, while simultaneously coping with the fundamental biological and developmental transitions that their peers also experience.”

Overall the results of the research are pretty damning. How much they directly apply contextually to other countries such as the United States is less clear. The study’s authors conceded that “the findings may not apply universally beyond Denmark, although it seems likely that they are relevant to other western societies with similar drivers of residential mobility.”

It seems pretty logical that changing one’s living environment during the onset of puberty could have lasting psychological consequences, and families that need to do so should take into account the hardship it presents to their growing children. Any direct link to higher risks of other negative consequences later on in life may be harder to establish.

Robin Scher is a freelance writer from South Africa currently based in New York.
He tweets infrequently @RobScherHimself.
By Robin Scher / AlterNet June 15, 2016