Winning The Battle Against Stress
3 powerful tools in stress management
Stress is becoming a major problem in the U. S. and will likely get worse before (or if) it gets better. That's the bad news. The really bad news, however, is that we don't take stress seriously as a threat to our health.
The first step in reducing your stress level is to calm your "monkey mind." No, I'm not insulting you. The monkey mind mentality refers to the volatile and transient nature of our thought processes. We bounce from one thought to another, pausing just long enough to gain traction for our next jump.
If that is not a clear enough explanation for you try this simple exercise: focus all of your attention on just one thing for 60 seconds. It can be anything that you want, but do not allow your attention to stray from that one thing during the 60 seconds. For instance, you might visualize the ocean for one minute. Now see how long it takes for another thought to intrude into your "ocean view". Probably about two seconds if you are like most people.
The easiest way to bring the monkey mind under control is to develop a sense of mindfulness. Mindfulness simply means that we are not running on "auto-pilot"; we are living in the present moment and actually aware of the thoughts that are running through our conscious mind. Very often our thoughts revolve around past or future events. Do not dwell on past mistakes or future problems. Simply living in the present moment will help to break the cycle of stress.
stress management concerns"Yogic breathing provides a unique and powerful tool for adjusting imbalances in the autonomic nervous system and thereby influencing a broad range of mental and physical disorders." As written by Richard P. Brown, MD and Patricia L. Gerbarg, MD, in an article on stress management, published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
This is a very simple, but powerful technique for relaxing the body.
1. Begin by assuming a comfortable seated or lying position.
2. Close your eyes and bring your awareness to your breathing. On the inhalation feel the cool air as it passes by the tip of the nostrils. On the exhalation feel how the air has been warmed and humidified by the body as it passes through the nasal passages and out of the body.
3. Inhale through the nose on a slow count of four, timing the inhalation so that when you get to four you have completely filled the lungs from bottom to top. (Hint: If you are filling your lungs correctly you will first feel the belly distend, then the chest will expand and finally during the last phase of the inhalation the collar bone will rise slightly.)
4. Exhale through the nose on a slow count of four (one thousand one, one thousand two, etc). Time the exhalation so that you have emptied the lungs as completely as possible when you reach four. (Hint: For a complete exhalation you should feel the belly draw in to aid the exhalation during the final one to two seconds of your exhale.)
5. Repeat for 10 breath cycles.
6. Once you have practiced this technique and begin to feel comfortable start to extend the exhale, while maintaining the inhale at a count of four seconds. For example, inhaling for four seconds and exhaling for six or eight seconds.
While yogic philosophy has been promoting the stress-reducing benefits of breathing exercises for millennia modern science is only now beginning to study and validate these important techniques. A study that was published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research in 2004 demonstrated that following a deep breathing regimen significantly reduced resting heart rate and improved autonomic function (the autonomic system is responsible for controlling blood pressure and one of the primary things that we want to avoid is an increase in blood pressure when faced with a stressor).
There is nothing mystical or magical about meditation, it is simply a concentrated focusing of the mind, which has a calming effect upon the nervous system. The mind, like the muscles, benefits from training.
A study published in a 2005 issue of Neuroreport that investigated the physical structure of the brain found that those that meditated on a regular basis had an increased cortical thickness (cerebral cortex) in comparison to a control group that did not meditate. The authors go on to conclude, "regular meditation practice may slow age-related thinning of the frontal cortex."
Another study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that a group of healthcare professionals that participated in a daily meditation program experienced a 60% reduction in stress over the course of the 8-week intervention. And a follow-up of the study participants nearly three months later found an even greater reduction in stress, suggesting that meditation may have a cumulative effect and become more effective the longer that you practice it.
Just to throw more fuel on the fire, another study published in Neuroreport found that people that practiced meditation developed an increased threshold to pain. Now I don't know if I'd want to let my dentist forego the Novocain while he's drilling like a West Virginia miner into one of my teeth, but it is nice to know that meditation has a broad scientific basis.
Although stories abound of yogis that would meditate for days on end, an effective meditation practice can be as short as 5-10 minutes.
1. It is preferable to do your meditation practice either first thing in the morning or (second choice) following a workout.
2. Choose a location that is comfortable and free from distractions.
3. Begin your meditation session by focusing your attention on your breath.
4. Wear loose comfortable clothing.
5. Change position if you begin to experience discomfort.
How to Meditate
1. Begin by assuming a comfortable seated or lying position.
2. Close your eyes and shift your awareness to your breathing.
3. Focus your complete attention on one thing (this is called your "target"). This "target" can be a visual representation such as a scenic landscape or a relevant religious symbol. Or you can try "mantra" meditation, a technique in which you mentally (or out loud) repeat a word or sound. For instance, in yogic meditation the word/sound "Om" (which represents "the Absolute") may be repeated over and over.
4. As thoughts arise (and they certainly will), acknowledge them and gently draw the focus back to your "target". With practice the intruding thoughts will diminish.
5. Breathe deeply and fully during your entire meditation session.
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Goals Are Your Road Map To Success
A life without purpose is like a ship without a rudder.
Goals are dreams that are written down.
The purpose of a goal is to focus your attention.
Your mind will reach toward achievement only
when it has a goal.
There is no achievement without goals.
Establish a goal worth working for.
Your goal will keep you going in tough times.
Always have something ahead of you.
Continuously visualize your next step.
Keep moving after you achieve your goal
and set another.
Momentum is maintained by always having
something to look forward to.
Constantly give yourself something to work for.
Do what you can do well, and do well whatever you can do
and you'll achieve any goal that you set for yourself.
You can plant your dream with a goal.
No More Excuses... It is Time To Get Fit!
“You’ve got to schedule workouts like any other important thing in your life.”
We all lead complex, demanding lives. On any given day, you can find dozens of reasons to skip a workout. Now that we are firmly into the new year, give yourself a fresh start by making sure fitness becomes an integral part of your complex life. We asked dozens of exercisers for their favorite "worst" excuses not to exercise, and the best ways to talk yourself back into your fitness routine.
1. I'm too busy. You've got to schedule workouts like any other important thing in your life. Everyone is busy. Being a grown up is about making choices, and choosing good health is one of the best you can make.
2. I don't have enough energy. Find a time in the day when you do have energy - there must be some window in 24 hours. If you're too beat after a long day of work, get in a few lunchtime workouts and make sure to squeeze some exercise in over the weekend.
3. It costs too much money to join a fitness facility. It's a long-term investment. Break down the dollar amount and figure what it's costing you on a daily basis - it can be as little as a dollar or two. Is that too much to pay for your fitness and health?
4. I'll never keep up with it. A valid point. The novice exerciser is at high risk of dropping out. The answer is to set realistic expectations. Try simply getting to your exercise facility three times a week for starters (even twice!), and see where it takes you. Statistics also show that good guidance is the key to stick-to-it-iveness in exercise.
5. It won't make a difference. Ah, but it will! You may not lose significant amounts of weight in the first few days, but you'll feel the effects right away. And powerful changes - muscle gain, more energy, weight loss - will be quite noticeable within a matter of weeks.
6. I feel too self-conscious. Get yourself some workout gear that's comfortable, is in a color you like, and that looks good on you. Yes, many exercise facilities are covered with mirrors, so feeling like you look okay will make a difference.
7. It takes too much time. We're talking about three hours a week - think about other activities you might cut back on, such as watching TV.
8. I don't like it. There are many different ways to exercise; in fact, variety is good for you. Try a yoga class, hiking, dancing lessons - anything active until you discover the exercise you most enjoy.
9. It's hard to motivate myself. Enlist a fitness partner - a friend, spouse to take walks with, or synchronize your workout schedule with a fellow exerciser from your fitness facility. Studies show this kind of support helps you stay with an exercise program.
10. It makes me sore/It hurts. Muscle fatigue is normal, but severe pain is an indication that you're doing something wrong. If you have trouble with normal movement (washing your hair, getting out of bed), you may have stressed muscles too much. Seek guidance from your fitness instructor about your exercise program and proper form to avoid injury and reduce muscle soreness.
Keeping yourself hydrated during your work out will make it even more effective. Don't forget to drink plenty of water! What I suggest is adding the juice of half a lemon to 32 ounces of water with a sprinkle of Steviva Brand Stevia Powder . Aside from being less than 2 carbs, you will get the health benefits that the stevia provides along with the vitamin C and electrolytes that lemon have. You can substitute limes for lemons if you get bored. Click here to order stevia powder. Now, starting working out.