Health Careers Journal

Category — Health Tips

Stress Busting 101


Managing even a minor crisis becomes more difficult if you let small things build up, according to Jane Brody in a blog for the New York Times.

Brody noticed herself getting stressed out over small things when she was in the midst of preparing to take a holiday trip this year, despite being an expert speaking on the subject of managing anxiety. She became less effective in terms of her personal problem-solving, simply because her mind was on many other small details. Brody writes that one of her neighbors had to put the issue in perspective for her, helping her to re-prioritize her “to do” list before the trip.

It’s All About Perspective

Brody uses this personal analogy to highlight what experts in anxiety management has long since discovered through scientific research. In the words of Pennsylvania stress and anxiety psychologist Tamar E. Chansky, “everyday stresses add up.” Chansky believes all of us lose perspective at times when stress mounts. The problem becomes more acute, however, when anxiety is a way of life. People can sometimes lose so much perspective on a daily basis that anxiety becomes chronic and life-crippling.

Chansky advises not sweating over the small stuff, letting go of what she terms “extraneous catastrophes.” Sometimes by letting go of minor issues, or problems over which we have no control, we can better manage our baseline level of stress. The less we worry about, the better we are able to handle real crises when they emerge. Chansky advocates positive thinking, focusing on what can be done to alleviate a problem, rather than fretting about how bad the problem is, or how it cannot possibly be solved.

Brody finds these suggestions very helpful, and employs a kind of informal “self-help group” while she’s walking with her friends. Everyone shares a problem, she relates, and inevitably someone with a more neutral perspective will offer a workable solution.

Chansky offers other valuable solutions, including taking a break when you find yourself getting worked up and practicing breathing slowly and calmly. Deep breaths help slow the heart beat and respiration and will help calm you down, she explains.

Re-Direct Your Focus

Therese J. Borchard, Associate Editor of PsychCentral, agrees with many of the tips offered by Chansky, and offers a few additional pointers. She suggests focusing on a sound or object in your environment instead of the issue that is stressing you out. This kind of break can help calm you, enabling you to more objectively evaluate the situation.

If you are overwhelmed by the big picture, Borchard finds that focusing just on a small task, or a small unit of time each as short as a minute, can help you get through the crisis. If you can make everything “fine” for just one minute, you are more likely to continue this positive spiral for longer and longer periods of time, until you have successfully resolved the crisis.

All of these writers advocate a common theme which is to learn from anxiety, rather than be swallowed whole by it. Feelings of anxiety are a sign that something in your life, either an external event or even an internal thought trigger, need to be changed to become more adaptive. In the words of Borchard, “Bite off less professionally and invest more energy into finding good help for the kids and housework. Because [we] can’t do it all.”

December 27, 2012   No Comments

Research Confirms Coffee’s Magical Medicinal Properties

A hot-off-the-presses report from the American Cancer Society gives coffee connoisseurs several serious and compelling reasons to continue refilling their “bottomless” cups. Now, everyone who depends on daily decoctions of the magic bean to jump-start and turbo-charge their systems can tell their friends in all sincerity, “I drink coffee for therapeutic purposes. I’m reducing my risk of oral cancer.”

This week, ACS epidemiologist Janet Hildebrand told that her team’s study of more than a million coffee drinkers clearly demonstrated, “Those who reported drinking at least four cups per day of caffeinated coffee incurred about half the risk of dying from mouth and throat cancers compared to people who did not drink caffeinated coffee daily or only drank it occasionally.” Hildebrand also noted that smokers and social drinkers enjoy the same 50 percent risk reduction as their smoke-and-alcohol-free friends. In the United States, oral cancers will cause approximately 7,000 deaths this year.

Although Hildebrand’s study did not identify the biological process that forges the link between coffee-drinking and reduced oral cancer risk, she said her results did not surprise her because coffee contains more than 100 potent bio-active chemicals. Agreeing that the results are not surprising, describing them instead as “fascinating” and “remarkable,” Los Angeles oral cancer specialist Joel Epstein emphasized emergence of “a significant theme” in several studies like Hildebrand’s that show coffee’s influence on a variety cancers.

Other encouraging studies

In August, 2012, Neal D. Freedman and researchers from the National Institutes of Health and The American Association of Retired People released extremely encouraging results of their 13-year study of three-cup-a-day coffee consumers. More than 400,000 people participated in the study that especially indicated regular coffee drinkers have at least a ten percent chance of living longer than their decaffeinated peers. Freedman’s study also provided strong evidence that people who drink at least three cups of caffeinated coffee every day have measurably lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, are less susceptible to basal cell carcinomas—the cells that evolve into skin cancer, and, ironically, are less prone to heart failure and stroke than their friends who abstain.

Shortly after Freedman released his study, Dr. Ronald Postuma and his team at McGill University released their study of coffee’s benefits for patients with Parkinson’s disease. Unlike other studies which treated coffee itself as the key variable rather than focusing on caffeine, Postuma’s team administered caffeine pills to their subjects. They started patients at 100 milligrams per day, graduating to 200 milligram doses after two weeks; 200 milligrams of caffeine are approximately the equivalent of three cups of coffee. All 61 trial participants reported moderate improvements in muscle movement and marked relief of muscle stiffness. Postuma’s study complements other studies that demonstrated coffee’s effectiveness in relieving symptoms of clinical depression and still others that documented coffee’s benefits for short term memory.

Currently in the throes of final exams, millions of college students confirm all the studies’ findings. Ashford University junior Megan Himes commented, “I think I speak for legions of girls just like me who feel thrilled that they can keep guzzling their megawatt beverages as physical and cognitive therapy. But are you sure that the newest studies did not mention Starbuck’s or Dunkin’ Donuts by name?”

December 17, 2012   No Comments

25 Health and Fitness Tips That Health Professionals Wish We All Knew

If someone asked you what the most important thing in your life is, what would you say? Some people say it’s their health but their actions prove otherwise – often due to misinformation or simple lack of knowledge. Here are some health and fitness tips that should be common knowledge but aren’t.

(Please note that while various health resources and professionals were consulted, this article should not be construed as medical/ health advice.)

beer mug1. Alcohol is not a food group.
The way so many people consume potent potables, you’d think it was the secret elixir of life. When you drink excessively you eat less because the caloric intake of alcohol keeps hunger at bay. This of course means that outwardly you may stay relatively trim, but inwardly you’re starving your body of appropriate nutrients. Not to mention, you’re damaging brain cells and shrinking your brain, creating water and electrolyte losses, and doing a variety of other damaging things. There is a very good reason why studies in the U.S., Canada, Britain, etc. have listed alcohol as one of the most dangerous drugs in the world.

2. You deserve a break right now.
Taking a break from work once in a while does not put you behind, despite popular opinion. It helps by letting your mind and body rest, thus preserving your health and sanity. The alternative is to keep working and burn out, which weakens your immune system and eventually sets your work back.

3. Stress will kill you.
Actually, it’s not so much the stress that will kill you, but your reaction to it and your way of dealing with it. It’s been estimated that somewhere between 75 and 90 per cent of all visits to health care providers are for stress-related ailments. Life is full of stress. There is no getting around it, but there are ways of dealing with it and finding outlets for it. Everyone is different in this respect. Some people need to find ways to let it out, others channel stress into activities, and still others need techniques that lessen it. Regardless of what works for you, the most important thing you can do is to not ignore stress and think you can’t do anything about it. Find time to deal with it; find a starting point.

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February 26, 2008   No Comments

Tips for Handling Stress as a Health Care Worker

When the residents of Seattle Grace need to reduce their stress, they’re often found with their coworkers at Joe’s Bar pouring down a few pints and a couple tequila shots to boot. While the method of stress reduction used by Grey’s Anatomy’s finest is questionable, the need to keep the life and death, hope and loss, work of a hospital at bay is real. One-fourth to one-third of U.S. workers report high levels of stress at work. Work related stress can negatively affect the lives and health and safety of workers. Follow these tips toward helping you handle work related stress. [Read more →]

February 9, 2008   No Comments

Proposed Mississipi Bill to Refuse Service to Obese Patrons

Mississippi House Representative W.T. Mayhall, Jr. introduced a bill during the legislative session on Friday that would ban restaurants from serving obese people in the state of Mississippi. The proposal, Bill 282, would require scales to be placed outside of restaurants and people with a Body Mass Index (BMI) above 30 would be refused service. Records of customers BMI’s would be kept on file and the restaurants would be tasked with enforcing and complying with the bill or risk loss of their license from the State Department of Health.

While Mr. Mayhall is certain the bill will not pass into law, he along with the bill’s co-writers, Bobby Shows, a businessman and John Read, a pharmacist, believe the situation concerning obesity in Mississippi to be dire. Their intention is to call attention to the increasing epidemic of obesity and the cost to the Medicare system.

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February 5, 2008   2 Comments

10 Tips to Never Get A Cold or Flu Again

All right, maybe the title was a bit over board. After all we are humans, and as such we are susceptible to getting sick once in a while.

woman with cold

That being said, there are many tips and measures that you can use to improve your immune system and reduce the chances of getting that common yet annoying cold. Some people can go for years in a row without getting this seasonal illness.

If you are used to getting at least a couple of colds or flus throughout the year, I am sure that the tips below will help you, check it out!

1. Hygiene is paramount. Viruses and bacteria usually spread through human contact, so make sure to wash your hands frequently. It is also a good idea to not share drinking glasses, towels, soap and so on.

2. Proper nutrition. You should be eating healthy not only to avoid colds and flus, but if they can act as motivators, so be it. A varied and balanced diet with large quantities of fruit and vegetables can do wonders for your immune system. Remember to drink a lot of water as well.

3. Exercise regularly. The same message applies here. You should already be exercising regularly to improve your overall health condition. If you are not, get started. Swim, ride a bike, walk. Any form of aerobic exercise, if done on a regular basis, will greatly improve your immune system.

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January 29, 2008   6 Comments