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.

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Filter Out Distractions and Interruptions to Improve Memory

Filter Out Distractions and Interruptions to Improve Memory

By Mehmet C. Oz, MD, and Michael F. Roizen, MD

Feeling scatterbrained? If you’re having difficulty focusing on a good book, the nightly news, or even your spouse because the kids, pets, phone, TV, flashing e-mail, and more are driving you to distraction, don’t blame the interruptions. It turns out that a prime reason for midlife concentration lapses and late-life memory problems is an increasing inability to filter out the clutter — both human and digital distractions.

A growing stack of studies shows that although 30-something brains can focus on a topic with laser-beam precision while ignoring multiple distractions, older brains have frayed mental filters that let other information in, no matter how hard they’re trying to concentrate. It’s like looking at the world (or at least that pile of paperwork) through a wide-angle lens that also sees the unwashed dinner dishes, the beautiful sunset, the accountant’s memo, or the article you’ve been meaning to read.

Try This 4-Step Meditation Plan for Sharper Focus

American and Canadian researchers stumbled onto this concentration issue while using MRIs to scan people’s brains as they performed memory-related problem-solving tasks. Older people in the study couldn’t concentrate inside the banging, clanging MRI machines, even when wearing earplugs. Their brain scans revealed the extra mental effort used as they tried to filter out the distracting noise, tipping off researchers to the mental challenges of concentrating.

Here’s how to both minimize age-related distraction problems when you need to focus and how to put them to use when you need to think and see the big picture:

  • Turn off distractions. You can recapture much of your sharp focus by removing distractions when you have to do mental work. Don’t pay bills while watching TV. Turn off the radio when you’re starting an important conversation with your spouse or when you’re loading new software onto your computer.
  • Clear your desk, organize your house. Visual clutter can slow down your mental capacity so that decision-making takes more time and effort. Give your brain cells less to ponder by sweeping unnecessary stuff from your workspace, cooking area, computer desktop, closets, and even your car.

Banish Interruptions: 7 Steps to a More Organized Life

  • Turn distractibility into a mental asset. Harness your well-seasoned brain’s ability to retain lots of information by giving “multisensory learning” a whirl. That’s when you use several senses at once to enhance learning and memory. Instead of reading a long magazine article about the growing list of presidential candidates, watch an in-depth TV show about them. Getting the audio and the visual is an asset in this case.
  • Enjoy seeing the forest, not just the trees. Having a more flexible mental filter in place means you take in more pleasure, too. Whether you’re walking in the woods, biking on the boardwalk, or people-watching, chances are you’re noticing more than you did in your 20s and 30s. Savor it!

Happiness — Find out what makes you happy so you can keep it going.

Find Your Happy Place

Are you happy? It’s such an important question because happiness has such a huge impact on your health, from your arteries to your heart, from the glow in your skin to the pep in your step. Happy feelings influence your brain and body chemistry in ways that make you better able to cope with pain and stress and to fend off colds, flu, heart disease, and even cancer. Follow these steps to help make yourself happier, day in and day.

Believe in Yourself

Finding true happiness requires taking a good hard look at yourself. The goal is to identify any off-the-wall beliefs about your self-worth and adjust them. When you’re at ease with yourself and open to others, friendships seem to blossom naturally. Just acknowledging secret self-doubts may help you develop enough humor and compassion toward yourself to reach out to others, who, underneath, are probably just like you: sometimes unsure and shy.

Hang Out with Happy Friends

Having someone in your immediate social circle who is upbeat ups your chances of happiness by 15%. Why? It seems happy people have the power to spread their feel-good vibes far and wide the same way a ripple spreads through a pond. Not only do immediate friends matter, but friends of friends, too. So make plans to have lunch with a friend or go for a walk together. It could have far-reaching benefits for your mental health.

Make Time for Play

Swap your endless to-do list for some spontaneous playtime. It packs big benefits for your health, mood, mind, job, and even your relationships. When you’re floating free, happy, and totally absorbed, you’re taking a mini vacation from deadlines, bills, and your crazy-busy schedule. Anything counts, from enjoying a silly moment with your spouse to hosting an impromptu gathering, to cooking up a new recipe in the kitchen.

Squash Negativity

Is your inner voice quick to snap out things like, “How could you forget that, you idiot?” Sometimes the noise inside our own heads is our biggest stressor. When negative thoughts crop up, imagine a stop sign in your head, and tell yourself, “Stop!” To turn things around, trade in put-downs for positive thoughts and affirmations. For example, when you feel tired during a workout, think, “I am strong” or when you start work on a difficult task, think, “I can accomplish anything.” Empower yourself to think positive.

Connect with Others

Make every effort to talk — really talk — to people you care about. If they’re far away, stay in touch through e-mail, phone calls, video chat, and, when you can, face-to-face visits; you’ll all benefit by connecting. Get physical, too; hugs stimulate oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone,” spreading a feel-good boost. Lovemaking does, too, in steady relationships (those couples report the highest happiness levels). Plus, connecting with others may keep you healthier by providing a coping mechanism for stress.

Keep a Gratitude Journal

Simply writing down what you’re thankful for makes you healthier, happier and more optimistic. Feeling thankful comes, in part, from counting your blessings each day. If you’re not sure how to journal, start by answering: What three things am I thankful for? You might find that journaling gives you a better, happier outlook for each day because you’re looking for moments to include in your journal each night.

Lend a Helping Hand

Volunteering at a nearby school or retirement residence, running to the pharmacy for a sick friend, or lending emotional support to a loved one can give your happiness quotient a big boost. How? Giving back and bonding with others inspires gratitude for what life has given you, and can help you define your purpose in life. The secret to being happy may be realizing that true happiness isn’t about being high on life all the time, but slowing down enough to share your natural gifts with others. Plus, find out how volunteering can help you live longer.  (I’m volunteering for Hospice.)

 

Enjoy the Great Outdoors

Spending time with awesome Mother Nature makes you feel alert, enthusiastic, energetic, and simply happy. Is it the fresh air, the sunshine, the greenery? No one knows for sure. But something about being al fresco appears to help people get even bigger benefits from their workouts and they’re also more likely to stick to their outdoor sports be it walking, bicycling, kayaking or an outdoor fitness class.

Turn On Some Tunes

If you want to feel happy, less stressed and more energetic, flip on your stereo. Whether you love Bach, Lady Gaga or The Beatles, music that makes you feel good increases your heart and breathing rates and makes your brain release dopamine, a lovely feel-good neurotransmitter. Plus, no matter whether you enjoy listening to your favorite music alone or with friends, it will more than likely give you the mood boost you’re looking for.

Meditate or Pray

For some, being spiritual means going to church. For others, it means finding a quiet place to meditate and think about life. No matter how you do it or what you call it, meditation and prayer can help slow breathing and brain activity, and reduce heart rate and blood pressure. Plus, when you do pray or meditate, you’re more likely to be filled with peace, joy, and other positive emotions that can also lead to positive physiological responses throughout your body.

Ways to Like Your Body Better

Our self-image the way we feel and think of our body, life, accomplishment, etc affects our state of mind hence it can increase or decrease our state of depression.

Starting if our self-image and how we perceive our body.

Don’t like looking in the mirror? Then look in the mirror. Seriously. But this time, change what you say to yourself.

Instead of mentally muttering, “My thighs are so big they need their own ZIP code,” say something objective and nonjudgmental (“My thighs are fuller than my calves” works).

It’s not just wishful thinking: Changing the words can actually change the negative feelings behind them. In fact, just three sessions of this “mirror-exposure therapy” worked better than professional counseling at improving the self-esteem, body image, and even depression of a group of women. (And this female study group didn’t have just everyday “I hate my hips” reactions to their mirror image. Their body-image issues were serious enough to put them in danger of developing eating disorders.)

If talking to the mirror isn’t your style, there’s another easy way to improve how you see yourself, and it’s not liposuction. It’s weight lifting. When a group of women lifted a few times a week for 12 weeks, they emerged feeling much more confident about their bodies. It happened no matter what size the women were or what shape they were in. It happened even if they gained weight during the study! And it gave them a more positive emotional outlook overall. It also heaped health benefits on them: well-toned muscles, stronger bones, a slightly higher metabolism, and more. What’s not to like about a body that has all that?

Blog Writing Therapy

I’m still new to all this and I mainly started due to the encouragement of my friend Dr. Genius which I have written about before and my behavioral therapist.  I’m not much of a writer and I’m never really pleased with what I write since I often lack the words of what I’m try to convey.  I read far more posts of others then I write myself.

Reading the blogs of others makes me feel better, thinking “WOW I’m not alone others struggle with the same issues”.  Now of course I have a set of friends to which I can go and confide in.  Maybe it’s just me but whenever I do I’m often left with a feeling of disappointment.  I tell my friends (except one of them) about an event that made me uncomfortable and I get “why didn’t you say XYZ” or I get “WOW I can’t believe you put up with that” or better “Well all you need to do is…”.

I’m left thinking; really did you just listen to what I said?  Did you take the time to put yourself into my position?  Are you really that sure of yourself that you would have handled the situation as you claim you would and if what should I think of you now?

Here is the link to a post I read earlier. (I wanted to just reblog it but couldn’t figure out how)  It’s one messed up situation but I would have done, in that situation, the exact same thing and if I would have told my friends later about it, all of them except one would have said things like I stated above.  I felt so much better after reading this post and felt terribly bad for the girl it happened too.

My January Review

WOW this has been an awesome months.  It wasn’t one of my goals for 2012 to write a monthly review but maybe I should just to summarize what I did during the month, to get some perspective plus while I’m writing my monthly review I might as well plan my next months.

So during January I’ve been juggling my 3 jobs.  I’ve done pretty well meaning managing my three jobs so far. I wasn’t late or showed up at the wrong place.  Only once I went to the wrong event but I was an hour early so I had enough time to get to my correct location. However, I didn’t manage to set any time aside for Hospice, which I will have to do in February.

I did some spring cleaning and sorted out my closets.  I realized when it comes to big projects such as cleaning out garage, house, attic, closets etc.  you either need to have a good friend who helps you with making the decision of what needs to go, like Carrie in Sex in the City or you can do it like me with taking small steps at the time. I did ask a friend if she would want to help me clean out my garage in February.

I went to the Tiger Rescue, The Genghis Khan Exhibit, and a Cancer Fundraiser in addition to that my job sent me to and RV show and a Wedding show which both were fun events to work for and they came with a bunch of little perks.

I made my Wish Box.  It is a little blue box with a wizard painted on top.  Inside, lots of little pieces of papers with my wishes. Pink papers are for under $50.00 with things such as wanting to go to a certain restaurant, seeing a certain movie.  Basically these are all items which I can do with my friends or a friend can grant me one wish as a birthday present. As we go through life there is often the thought “oh I want to try this restaurant, see this movie, take this class; however, when your girlfriends asks us “hey what do you want for your birthday?” what do we say?   Now I’m going to have them pick out of the little box which one of my little wishes they want to grant me.  This way it’s still a surprise and it makes it all so much easier.

Then there are yellow and blue papers these are personal items and long term projects, they serve as a mental bridge. How many times have you been sitting around with your friends not know what to do, so you went to the mall or went back to the same restaurant you have gone over 50ty times.  Then the following week you think, last weekend was such a nice weekend and we went to the mall, I totally forgot I always wanted to go horseback riding with this particular friend.  Or you think, so we went back to this restaurant I totally forgot I always wanted to try this other restaurant.

In addition I painted a few more fun boxes to keep my makeup and jewelry organized. Now my bathroom counter is nicely organized and I’m not looking at a bunch of little jars of creams, makeup and jewelry every morning cluttering my bathroom counter.

I completed three paintings and spend time with some friends.

Finally, I bought a new set of glasses which I had been putting off since last summer.

Finally I got a new phone as well. Still not texting, I didn’t feel like paying an additional $20.00 a month so my friends can text useless information.  Many of them would do that if I would have texting.

I set up a savings plan. I also decided that the money from one of my part time jobs will be my lipstick money from now on.  The paycheck goes into a separate account out of which I pay for all my fun stuff, entertainment, dinners, clothes, trips glasses, contact lenses even dentist.  Everything which isn’t a bare essential is paid out of that account and from that job.  The other job will pay the essentials such as utilities, car, housing and the pay from my third job is savings and for my Mom.

Managed to do some yard work which has been way over do and I did manage to get some little workout in here and there.

I only read one book so I need to do better in February.

Overall I think I had a great productive month.  The days were short but the weeks were really long.

The “WHY”

 

My friend, Doctor Genius, I have referenced him in previous posts, responded to my last post asking, what is your “WHY”.

Interesting question

Freud believed life is primarily a quest for pleasure.  Alfred Adler believed life is a quest for power.

I guess the greatest task for any person is to find meaning in his or her life.  Finding meaning has been a quest of humankind since the dawn of consciousness. Entire social and belief structures are built around this pursuit of meaning.  The more one individual submerges him or herself in such a structure the easier it becomes for him or herself to derive meaning and purpose for existence. Lack of meaning and purpose can and will have devastating effects on a person.  According to my father, the lack of meaning and purpose is often at the root of drug addiction and alcoholism, since it is easier to numb your consciousness then to find meaning and purpose.

Our parents, maybe but certainly for our grandparents and their forefathers, the meaning for their existence was given to them.  Their purpose and their reason for existence, was hammed into their heads from their time of infancy. In addition, they lived their lives in such a tightly knit social structure that meaning and purpose was inevitable. Everyone had to contribute to the whole.

Freedom

Freedom for individualism

Freedom always comes with a price.  We now have to freedom to pick our destiny.  One can even go so far and say, we now have the freedom for individualism. Is this freedom a blessing or a curse? We often forget the overwhelming responsibility which comes with freedom. What does this freedom do to the whole?  Is individualism and selfishness not closely related?

So far I have come up with three possible sources for the meaning of my WHY

Work – Doing something significant, significance which can’t be measured with dollar signs.

Love – Caring for other people.

Courage – Making it through the difficult times.

This is what I have for now.  I just order five more books on the topic so maybe I have a better understanding on the topic after I finished reading these books.