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!

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

Does Overload Equals Depression

I remember a number of years ago my older brother said:,  “if I have to much on my plate I get overloaded and end up not getting anything done”.  I really don’t remember anymore what made him make the statement. I do remember I was in my early teens and really didn’t understand the correlation.  Actually it took me a very long time to understand his statement and I just realized in the past 3 years what a paralyzing effect it can have on someone.if they overload themselves, struggling with depression and have lost the structure and order in their life.

However, having a full schedule can be healthy and invigorating for someone who is struggling with depression if the schedule has the needed structure and order.

Until my father passed away, I really didn’t understand depression nor did I feel depressed at any time.  Maybe it was also that during college and then later during the early years in my career I was so busy I didn’t have any time to think about much of anything.  Or better said, didn’t take the time.

After my father passed away and I had lost  my job I have had for almost10 years, ever since I finished college.  I couldn’t motivate myself to do much of anything.  I was seriously depressed.  All I did was sit around worrying about how I was going to pay my bills, what was going to happen with my career, where will I be 10 or 20 years down the road. The more I tried to motivate myself to do things, such as working out, cleaning house the more depressed I gotten because I just kept adding things to my to- do list.

The thought was, now that I”m unemployed I have the time to do XYZ. I made my bucket list and my wish list.  Things that had been in the back of my mind for years that I wanted to do or have or experience were brought front and center.

Now I had time to do them but I didn’t have the money. So, all I did was sit in front of my PC applying for jobs.  There were days I emailed out over 50 resumes.  I applied for every job there was out there and nobody called me back. I was just tumbling down the rabbit hole faster and faster.

Finally after starting behavioral therapy I ended up getting a better understand about depression as a whole and the therapy helped me to bring structure and order back into my life.  Getting back into the routine of getting up early, getting a little workout in and routinely going through the things you had listed on you to-do list for the day give you the feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day.

How do you deal with your Lunar Days?

So, how do you deal with your lunar days?  We all get them. With “we”, I mean the ones who are blessed with the female gender.

Our beloved lunar days, they come once every four weeks.  For some of us they come with the physical clues.  We wake up and feel somewhat not as usual, we go to the bathroom and then there is the ahhhh it’s that time again.  The physical clues bring the realization and the “home free card”. We walk through life (at least some of my friends do) saying “I’m PMSing what is your problem.  In today’s world, PMS give us girls the license to do anything and everything. We turn into the raging lunatics and believe we have every right to do so. In the old days women probably weren’t as compelled to draw attention to it out of fear for being burned at the stake.

For others lunar days come without physical evidence.  Either due to stress, being underweight or due to some lovely implant.  For me, I rarely get them but when I do, they come with vengeance. The problem is when there is no physical evidence you realize you are a total lunatic and it takes time to figure out why.

I have been a raging lunatic all weekend.  This time it took me a total of two days to figure out what the bloody hell was wrong with me and by that time I did, I was totally of the rockers.  In a span of 15 minutes I went through every human emotion possible.  That is from flaming mad with lighting blots shooting out of my eyeballs to the sobbing petty me.

I made through Saturday and Sunday without doing anything majorly stupid.  Well, I resigned to buying cigarettes and smoked like there was no tomorrow.  I made the mistake of not locking my cell phone away but other than that I did OK.  I kept myself busy with studying, doing endless mind numbing tests and added three more painting to my collection.

However, this morning I couldn’t get up.  I had no reason to get up.  I didn’t have anything on my schedule to sustain my life so to speak.  I didn’t have a job to go to.  True I have a number of projects but with these projects may become fruitful in months or years so why bother. We want instant return.  Going back to the emerging neurosciences post, this morning the status was missing to get me out of bed and be functional.  Will power isn’t there if you have the monster lurking underneath.

My cell phone was ringing non-stop and finally at around noon I picked up one of the calls.  The person at the other end said “Hi how are you” and at that moment I lost it.  All the emotions, everything I tried to keep in check during the weekend became unraveled and I let go “How I am? You want to know how I am.  I’m telling you one thing, this whole thing about Garden of Even. This whole thing about women being punished with child labor pains is a bunch of BS.  If G-d is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent then he would have known that we are going to come up with painkillers and epidural anesthetic. Hence this concludes that if there is a G-d and that G-d is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent he/she/it gave women PMS as the punishment”.

The person on the other end answer “well I actually was just calling to wish you Happy Hanukkah and wanted to know if I could borrow the CD we talked about, however it appears you are no having a good day. What to talk about it”

No, not really there was nothing to talk about it.  I was just a raging lunatic.  I ended up getting up and kept myself busy still the monster was trying to push through.

Depression is an interesting thing.  Today I realized for the first time how closely related depression and anger really is. I’m also starting to believe that PMS isn’t really that big of a problem unless you have other issues going on.  During your lunar days you are more prone to lose control.  I’m not really sure why. Looking at it biologically our body is gearing up to its most fertile days.  So is it possible that men are more attracted to raging lunatics?