15 Simple Ways to De-stress

Hypnotize Yourself

Brow furrowed? Pulse galloping? Barely able to breathe? It’s time to relax. We’ve gathered easy strategies to keep tension from taking over.

Forget swaying pocket watches and deep trances. “Hypnosis is a state of highly focused attention,” says David Spiegel, the director of Stanford School of Medicine’s Center on Stress and Health. If done properly, hypnosis can clear your mind, lower your heart rate, and decrease muscle tension. Close your eyes and picture a movie screen with something stressful, like rush-hour traffic, on the left side. Now, visualize a solution playing out on the right, like discovering a new route with no traffic. Eventually, you’ll feel a moment of intense absorption, he explains, like when you’re so caught up in a good movie that you forget where you are. Try doing this for five minutes, three or four times a day.

(Really) Forgive Someone

Although it may be tempting to rehash the details of how your sister’s boyfriend snubbed you, letting go of negative feelings really does lower stress. “When our minds keep rehearsing troubling interactions, the body’s calming system becomes impaired,” says Charlotte vanOyen Witvliet, a psychologist at Hope College in Holland, Mich. A cursory hug won’t do, though. You have to sincerely replace your anger toward the wrongdoer with an attempt to understand the reasons behind his actions. “Forgiveness helps you see more of the truth, not less. When we are upset, our vision is limited in scope,” says Witvliet.

Open the Window

Just looking out your window can have a relaxing effect. In a study led by Peter Kahn, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Washington in Seattle, participants in an office were shown one of three views: a natural setting, a digital display of the same scene, and no view. When stress levels were artificially increased, those looking at the real natural scene returned to their normal heart rate more quickly. Those who looked at the digital display did no better than those looking at a blank wall, suggesting the brain is not easily fooled. “We do best mentally and physically when we’re connected to nature,” says Kahn.

Send Yourself Flowers

“Without question, stress is mitigated by nature,” says Mehmet C. Oz, coauthor of “You: Stress Less” (Simon & Schuster). Scientists at Harvard University delivered flowers to one group of women and gave candles to a second group. Within a week, the first group felt less anxious and depressed, perhaps because humans are comforted by vegetation—a means of survival in caveman days. Oz suggests keeping a plant on your desk and cut flowers at the dinner table.

Pucker Up

A kiss (or two) a day can keep the stress away. You’ll feel less isolated, which is a common source of anxiety. According to Laura Berman, a professor of obstetrics-gynecology and psychiatry at Northwestern University, women in particular respond to locking lips by releasing endorphins. She recommends at least one ten-second kiss a day — deep and emotional, but not necessarily sexually arousing. “Just enjoy the physical connection,” she says.

Take a Time-Out

You don’t need to slip into bed to get the benefits of a good rest. Kate Hanley, author of “The Anywhere, Anytime Chill Guide: 77 Simple Strategies for Serenity” (Skirt!), suggests a simple exercise you can do at your desk that is just as refreshing as a nap:

  • Keeping both feet on the floor, stack your forearms on the edge of the table.
  • Scoot back in your chair so your spine is extended.
  • Rest your forehead on your arms for a minute or two.

This opens the neck and shoulders, where physical tension commonly builds up, and creates space in your rib cage for deep breathing. Visualize your next task going well, or simply focus on your heartbeat. Either way, this exercise gives you a break.

Take it Easy

Working out is a great way to take a bite out of tension—but think twice before you sign up for a boot camp. “When you are mentally tired, intense exercise adds to the stress you are feeling,” says Samuele M. Marcora, a physiologist at the University of Kent in England. After a draining day, he suggests a moderate-intensity workout, like walking or light running. “It won’t improve your fitness level, but it is good for the mood.”

Say ‘Om’

Yoga is a proven stress buster, but not all poses give the same relief. Inverted stances, such as back bends and headstands, may have a greater effect on your mood and anxiety, say researchers. The part of the nervous system that relaxes the body and mind may be stimulated when the spine is bent, explains Chris Streeter, a professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine.

Go Into the Light

“Stress can be triggered when our bodies don’t know what time it is,” says Julie Holland, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine. “Exposing your retina to sunlight resets your circadian rhythm so your brain is on a schedule.” Take a walk outside without sunglasses for 20 minutes a day, three times a week. Phototherapy lamps and vitamin-D supplements also help.

Watch a Tearjerker

If you’re still crying your contacts out on your 100th viewing of “Blue Valentine,” try watching it a 101st time with a new outlook: A recent study suggests that thinking positively while watching a sad movie may help you cope with setbacks in the real world. Women who had experienced stress were shown sad scenes from movies such “I Am Sam” and “Fatal Attraction” and asked to come up with happy endings and good advice for the characters. Test subjects who were best at this showed fewer signs of depression than women who watched the movies passively, says Allison S. Troy, a researcher at the University of Denver. Solving other people’s problems is always easier, she says. Practicing as you make your way through your Netflix queue may sharpen your skills.

Treat Your Allergies

Itchy eyes and a runny nose aren’t the only plagues of allergy season: Stress may rise with the pollen count. Alvaro Guzman, a psychiatrist at the National Center for the Treatment of Phobias, Anxiety and Depression in Washington, D.C., says research shows that patients with seasonal allergies often report stress, mood dips, and depression when symptoms flare. “When we have an allergic reaction, chemicals are produced in our blood that can aggravate mood changes,” he says. If you notice your stress levels peaking when the weather is changing, Guzman suggests getting tested for allergies.

Drop an F-Bomb

Saying what you really think about the boss over a couple of martinis has its advantages. After observing groups in various workplaces, Yehuda Baruch, a professor of management at Rouen Business School in France, found that people swear as a coping mechanism to release stress. When upset with a difficult customer, one test subject pretended to carry on a conversation as if the client were still on the phone, but with profanity to describe exactly how she felt. In the real world, Baruch warns to use common sense. “Stay professional and never swear in front of someone who would be offended.”

Get Busy

You’re sitting on the couch watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills reruns — just like last weekend. And instead of becoming absorbed, part of your brain stays focused on the looming deadlines that have been nagging at you at work. Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, a professor of psychology at Yale University and the author of “Women Who Think Too Much” (Henry Holt), says, “Overthinking without being able to resolve anything draws us deeper into a feeling of being overwhelmed.” A pastime that requires you to pay attention or engage with other people—like tackling a new recipe, taking a foreign-language class, or playing tennis—lets you escape from your own spinning head and break the cycle.

Surround Yourself With Beauty

Admiring a photo of a model or a movie star just as you would a work of art could relieve tension. Half a group of people who viewed photos of females wearing makeup said they were less stressed afterward, according to a study at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. The other half did not report the same benefit, but they didn’t feel any worse, says Patrick Pössel, a professor of psychology who conducted the study.

Be a Pescatarian

Battling stress can be as simple as ordering fish at a restaurant. On “The Truth About Food,” a program on the Discovery Health Channel, researchers measured hormone levels in London cabdrivers, who have highly stressful jobs. When put on a diet of four portions a week of oily fish like mackerel, a source of omega-3 fatty acids, the drivers produced less of the stress hormone cortisol and more of DHEA, a hormone the body cranks out to combat stress. “When the body sees omega-3 fatty acids, it feels calm,” says Oz. Walnuts, flaxseeds, and tofu are other excellent sources.

Advertisements

What Your Liver Can Teach You About Burning Fat

How Psychotherapy Helps Treat Major Depression

 

Counseling from a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other specialist can help you cope with clinical depression symptoms.

Even if your doctor prescribes an antidepressant to treat major depression (also known as clinical depression, major depressive disorder, or MDD), you’ll likely also need to include psychotherapy in your treatment plan. A variety of psychotherapy treatments (“talk therapy”) can help alleviate major-depression symptoms by helping you learn smart coping strategies. Psychotherapy may also help prevent a relapse of major depression.

The National Institute of Mental Health recommends two main types of psychotherapy for major depression :

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: Based on the theory that a negative mindset is a key component of major depression, cognitive behavioral therapy helps patients reframe negative — and often unrealistic — thought patterns in a more positive light to help counteract depressed feelings and behavior.
  • Interpersonal therapy: This type of therapy works on the premise that negative experiences in personal relationships can trigger or worsen major depression. It focuses on the link between mood and interpersonal relationships, and is particularly helpful in addressing such issues as unresolved grief, interpersonal disputes, poor social skills, and social isolation.

Professionals who offer Interpersonal therapy include psychiatrists (doctors who also may prescribe antidepressants), psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, and licensed marriage, family, and child counselors. People with major depression may work with a psychiatrist, who prescribes antidepressant medications, and with a psychologist or other counselor for psychotherapy. Therapy sessions can take place in a variety of settings, ranging from private-practice offices and clinics to social-service agencies and outpatient mental health clinics.

4 Benefits to Being Imperfect

4 Benefits to Being Imperfect

I vividly remember being in the first grade, and at the end of the year, I won my first award for accumulating the highest GPA in the class. That was when I took my first hit of perfectionism, and it felt good, almost euphoric. For the next seven years of grammar school, I chased that high and made that little, square, marble trophy my goal. Somewhere along the line, my self-worth became entangled in that useless trinket.
 
It started with my grades, craving the A  because the A wasn’t good enough. Then, it spread to my looks, my athletic abilities, my personality, etc., and I started living in polarities (good vs. bad, fat vs. thin, nice vs. mean, and ugly vs. beautiful). When my environment began mirroring them back to me, I assumed they must be true, and my identity became wrapped up in how “good” I could be at everything. “You’re so smart, sweet, and pretty,” I would hear over and over again, and all I could think was that I wasn’t smart, sweet, or pretty ENOUGH.
 
The quest for perfection is an endless journey many of us have been on since childhood. We somehow think our mistakes or shortcomings are failures or make us less than rather than viewing them as lessons to be learned unique to us an individuals. I was a self-proclaimed perfectionist, and it originated from a message I received purely from society (in no way did my family make me feel this way) that I interpreted as meaning I was only valuable if I was perfect – pretty, intelligent, sociable, and successful. If I received any grade but an A in school, I considered it an F and beat myself up over my perceived “failure.” Then, I started to develop anxiety around EVERYTHING because the idea of not being up to par shook me to my core. I knew nothing but achievement, but what if one day it stopped? Then, who would I be? I feared failure, but most of all, I feared that I would never be “enough.”
 
Perfection is really just a way of asserting control over areas of life where we feel we have the power to do so. Often, we equate love with perfection causing us to chase impossibly high standards to feel valued and accepted. It is a diversion to fill an empty void that really originates in the spirit with outside experiences. Perfection becomes tied to self-worth, and a shameful belief of inner inadequacy fuels the perfectionist tendencies. Perfection was my drug, and I self-medicated with it so that I did not have to feel. Now, I find my worth in the fact that I simply am and that worth is not contingent upon my achievements. It is strong and never fluctuates because I am and always will be a divine creation.
 
Below are four benefits to being imperfect.
 
1. Less Stress – Ditching the “shoulds” and all-or-nothing thinking will allow you to find more peace and enjoy your daily accomplishments and successes while you learn from your mistakes and less than perfect outcomes.
 
2. Improved Relationships – When you can accept your limitations and imperfections, you give others the permission to be imperfect, as well. As your expectations and impossible standards for yourself lessen, so do those you held for the people in your life. Our outer world is a reflection of our inner world, so when we begin to value ourselves regardless of what we do or achieve in any area, we then begin to value others for who they are and not what they do.
 
3. Increased Energy – When all of your energy is no longer concentrated on worrying about what you SHOULD be doing and how you SHOULD be doing it, you free yourself up to focus on what really matters.
 
4. Healthier Self-Image – Accepting and appreciating our imperfections creates room for self-nurturing, compassion, and love. You can begin to appreciate the qualities, characteristics, and experiences that are unique to you without the need to be perfect.
 

Can Food Help You Manage Depression Symptoms?

Interesting articel I found while searching for my previous post.

Can Food Help You Manage Depression Symptoms?

Learn how nutrients in healthy foods can play a role in your major depression treatment plan.

Research shows that several essential nutrients may affect your mood. If you’re being treated for major depression, some ways of eating may even add to the effectiveness of your medications. While it’s difficult to know exactly how much food contributes to your mood and mental health, the evidence is fairly strong for the following nutrients.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids You’ve probably noticed everything from designer cereal to bread, eggs, and milk labeled high in omega-3. “These essential fatty acids are vital to good health in so many ways,” notes Amy Ogle, MS, RD, a San Diego-based dietitian and personal trainer. “They promote healthy cell membranes and help reduce the low-grade inflammation caused by a chronically poor diet, stress, illness, and depression.” With respect to major depression specifically, the omega-3s DHA and EPA seem to be lead players. Your brain’s neural membranes depend on DHA for structure and function, which may help with cell communications.

Good sources of omega-3s include fatty fish, such as salmon, and designer foods fortified with omega-3s.

Vitamin B12 This water-soluble vitamin is important to red blood cell formation and DNA synthesis. It may also help balance the level of neurotransmitters (e.g., serotonin, dopamine) in your brain. In a large study, women age 65 years and older who were deficient in vitamin B12 were two times as likely to be severely depressed as the women who were not deficient.

Good sources of B12 include fortified breakfast cereal and foods of animal origin.

Folate Another water-soluble B vitamin, folate occurs naturally in foods. Folate is required to produce new cells in your body, as well as RNA and DNA. Like B12, folate affects your brain’s neurotransmitters, which play a role in depression. Some research shows that adding a bioactive folate supplement to your depression treatment plan may reduce depression symptoms.

Good sources of folate include fortified grains, leafy green vegetables, and dried beans.

Selenium Selenium is a trace mineral used to make selenoproteins (important antioxidants). In a recent study, women with low dietary intakes of selenium were three times as likely to develop major depression.

Good sources of selenium include seafood, meat, poultry, nuts, and grains from varying regions (soil levels of selenium vary by location).

Other Minerals Minerals such as calcium, iron, and zinc found in a normal diet also support physical and mental vitality. Not getting enough of these nutrients can increase your risk of depression symptoms due to health conditions such as iron-deficient anemia. Be cautious of getting too much of a supplement. Avoid multivitamins and supplements that provide more than 100% of the Daily Value (DV) unless prescribed by your doctor.

Importance of Varied Diet Eating a well-balanced diet with a lot of variety — including 12 ounces of fish or seafood a week — will likely ensure you have sufficient nutrition. For women specifically, certain life stages can make you more vulnerable to depression. “Try to be proactive about protecting your nutrition,” Ogle suggests. “Find exercise options you enjoy.”

Foods That Fight Pain

After posting my previous post on Chronic Pain. I started to do a little more reseach and found some interesting stuff.  As we all know, what you eat can help or hurt you.  I have found out that if I load up with vitamine C mainly in fruits I can manage my depression much better.  So I was wondering if other foods can help relief pain.  I found some soothing foods one should include in there chronic-pain-management strategy.  Afterall we all need to eat, it’s worth a try.

Whole grains are a good source of magnesium, a mineral that has been shown in aimal studies to short-circuit muscle pain.

When it comes to spices with potential pain-relieving properties, go for the gold: ginger and turmeric. Ginger contains a quartet of substances (gingerols, paradols, shogaols, and zingerone) that have analgesic qualities similar to aspirin or ibuprofen.

Turmeric — a spice used in Indian and Thai curry dishes — contains curcumin, another ginger-family member that may also help nip pain in the bud.

Strawberries are chock-full of vitamin C, an antioxidant with powerful pain-reducing properties, according to research. Some studies suggest vitamin C may help people experience less pain after breaking a bone or having orthopedic surgery.

Spinach or arugula salad for a jolt of vitamin K. Vitamin K also helps maintain strong bones and healthy joints. In one study, older adults with ample blood levels of K were less likely to develop osteoarthritis, compared to a low-in-K control group.

Yogurt and other dairy foods contain two bone-building nutrients: calcium and vitamin D. Not only does vitamin D do more than buoy bone strength, it may also play a role in diminishing chronic pain, according to some study findings.

The resveratrol in wine, grapes, and grape juice may have an analgesic effect similar to aspirin, according to a handful of animal studies. But if you add resveratrol to your list of pain-busting nutrients, just watch how much of it you get from red wine. Experts recommend no more than one daily glass of wine for women, men can get a little more.

Quick Steps to Effortless Creativity

This post, by Belle on March 27, 2012, “Quick Steps to Effortless Creativity” really helped me with my creativity maybe you will find it helpful as well.

We are, by our very nature, creative. Creativity flows through us constantly. Yet when we strain and struggle to be creative, we’re only creating strain and struggle.

So sit back, relax, breathe.

The key to effortless creativity is simple: stop resisting it.

Creativity is as easy as breathing. Surrender to this and you allow your creative nature to shine through. And when you’re straining or stuck again, remember these steps:

3 Quick Steps to Effortless Creativity:

1. Know that you are inherently creative.

“Living Enlightenment is being intense in every moment and responding intuitively to achieve your limitless potential for creativity and joy.” -Paramahamsa Nithyananda

If we begin to believe we’re not creative, then that’s what we’re expecting and creating in our lives. Return to the truth of your inherent creativity. Feel the creative power surging through your veins at every moment. The fact is? There is no atom in your being that is not creative!

2. Don’t judge your creativity. This is the cause of so many of our “blocks.” We think we have to create in a certain way, to a certain standard, with certain tools on certain days! We’re very picky. Instead, accept whatever comes through you without judgement, only love. When you love what comes through for you, when you accept it and welcome it, you remove the blocks and enter the powerful flow of creativity.

You might find yourself getting creative about dinner- and if you let it flow, it’ll flow right through dinner and on to your canvas later. Or, you might find yourself inspired to create a treasure hunt- which will make your writing glitter with unexpected gems.

Don’t limit the ways in which your creativity longs to express itself, and you’ll find it overflowing in all areas of your life.

3. Get playful. If you’re laughing and having fun, your judging, ego nature takes a back seat. Ask yourself, “What’s the most fun and unexpected way I can approach this?” Then take yourself for a wild ride!

The trick here is to do something odd, different, or just plain immature for the sake of having fun! I promise if your first priority is to have fun, your creativity will be a wild horse you can barely keep up with. Turn dinner into a food fight, skip backwards on your way to a stuffy business appointment, make a necklace out of bubblegum “beads”- you get the picture!

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.”  ― Albert Einstein