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mental health

The search for mental clarity, emotional balance, and spiritual openness will makes it possible to develop your unique creative potentials. The sky is the limits.

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Stress & You

Stress & You

Take a look at how you may be putting yourself under unnecessary stress. Try to identify unnecessary stressors in your life. By eliminating as many as you can, you free a lot of energy for more positive use, and for meeting important challenges. For instance, physical inactivity is a stressor - it decreases your body's ability to function at optimum levels, it encourages the storage of wastes in the muscles and skin, and makes you chronically fatigued. So instead of indulging in it, start some kind of exercise program, and follow it regularly. Many people who take up regular exercise report that they experience conceptual shifts so that things which appeared stressful before no longer bother them. Like cigarettes and drugs, various foods and drinks can be heavy stressors, too. They offer nothing in the way of positive health and vitality, but are a constant drain on the adaptive energy in your body. It is well established that caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, sugar and excess fat are stressors, which actively work against its normal healthy functioning.

Affirmations

Affirmations

Every one of us has more potential for health, happiness, self expression, energy and good looks than we ever make use of. Although there are many tools to help you towards self fulfillment - good food, exercise, stress control, beauty techniques, etc. - by far the most important of all is learning to use the power of your mind. you are what you think Because we create our lives from thoughts, it is important that we think constructively. Unfortunately most of us, without being aware of it, limit our possibilities for fulfillment because we continually bombard ourselves with negative thoughts. We all carry on some sort of internal conversation throughout the day. Usually if we tune in and listen, we find that it is full of negative thoughts and self doubts. Most often we are hearing the voices of our parents, or of people in authority telling us that we can't expect to be happy, that we are bound to fail, that life is suffering and that we should face the stark realities. Out of these negative thoughts arise our self-image and our sense of purpose and direction. It is clear to see, with so much criticism and so little sense of possibility, why we never dare dream of better things. The first step in changing your attitude towards yourself and your life is to stand back and listen to the voices in your head objectively and realize just how ill founded they are. Once you detach yourself from the rubbish going on in your head, you can begin on the path to self-fulfillment. love thyself Whether you feel you are too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, too selfish, too sensitive etc., in order to change, you must begin by accepting yourself right now for what you are. Try this exercise: Look at yourself in a mirror and repeat the words, "I love and accept myself completely, as I am" in your head over and over. And as you do write down any blocks that seem to keep you from accepting yourself. You may feel stupid or ridiculous or embarrassed, but stick with the exercise and you will find that it begins to ring true. positive affirmations You can learn to program your mind to bring about success and fulfillment in all areas of your life through positive affirmations. An affirmation is a phrase which can be silently thought, spoken aloud, written down or all three. The great thing is that affirmations can be done anytime and anywhere in one form or another. There are a few basic guidelines for contacting the appropriate part of your brain and evoking results. Once you understand them, you can create your own affirmations to help you become all that you can be. present tense The subconscious part of the brain only understands now - the present tense - so it is important to phrase your affirmation in the present tense. If you try the future tense, e.g. "I will be happy." your goal will remain constantly out of your reach. It may take a bit of getting used to to write or speak your dreams in the present tense, but remember that is just a formality. first person The most powerful suggestions are those made in the first person. Remember when you say "I" you are including all of you and so helping to integrate and employ your entire being in your goals. It is always better to make affirmations positive rather than negative. In other words in stead of saying, "I no longer overeat" say "Everything I eat returns me to my ideal weight of...." specific and realistic Set yourself specific goals at first, which are within your capabilities to achieve. Once you have accomplished them you will be encouraged and can set more challenging goals. If you are trying to give up smoking, for instance, begin with the affirmation that you will cut down the amount you smoke by half. Then you can cut by half again until you finally stop altogether. short and simple Keep affirmations as short and direct as possible. A concise brief affirmation will have more impact than a long wordy one. suspend disbelief Try while doing affirmations to cast aside doubts and believe in the possibility of what you are saying. If you keep experiencing negative thoughts, get them down on paper, then get rid of them and reassert your positive affirmation. personally phrased Make sure that you are happy with the wording of your affirmation. For each person, the word choice may need to be slightly different. Feel free to change any of the affirmations we suggest to suit your own requirements. all encompassing Remember that the affirmation can be used to transform any area of your life, from career and self image to your relationships with others. The Bible says: 'Ask and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find.' Know that you have every right to be successful and happy and that your life is yours to create. Here are some favorite affirmations. Find one or two that you particularly like and repeat them to yourself often. My daughter and I both like the written affirmations, because for us they seem to solidify things. Other people prefer to repeat them silently in meditation, or even sing them. If you do write them down keep a special affirmation journal and write in it any thoughts that arise as you write. Also make a note of things that change for you for the better, and be sure to give thanks for what is given to you. We find seven a useful number to work with. Repeat the affirmations in multiples of seven at a time. some affirmations Every day in every way I am getting better and better. I have everything I need to enjoy life here and now. I create my life and it is good. I love and appreciate myself just I am. Each day my life unfolds in beautiful perfection. I enjoy to love and be loved. The more I give to others the more I have to give. My relationship with ....... is getting better and better. It is good and right for me to have everything I want. Everything I eat makes me strong and healthy. I eliminate wastes easily and completely from my system. I have an exciting, rewarding and well paid job. I have plenty of energy and I enjoy work. I communicate freely and easily with others. I have all the time I need to accomplish all I want to do. It's okay for me to enjoy myself and have fun. God's energy within me produces perfect results in everything I do. Everything that happens is working for the good in my life. I can do ........ and nothing can stop me. ....... or something better now comes to me for the total good of all concerned. I give thanks for all that I am blessed with.

Meet The Helpers

Meet The Helpers

The right kind of herbs can be a great asset not only during times of heavy pressure, but also to help increase your body's adaptive energy so you can take a lot more pressure without cracking. Hans Selye, the father of stress, did not believe this could be done. Now, thanks mostly to research carried out in Russia we know it can - provided you know your herbs well and choose the right ones. There are two classes of herbals that are helpful when it comes to stress. The first are the adaptogens. These are agents which can help protect you against mental and physical fatigue. The second group are the problem solvers such as valerian - an excellent alternative to tranquilizers when you need some extra help, or echinacea, which is an immune booster should you feel yourself in danger of getting a cold or flu during very demanding times. Rather like people, each herb has its own personality. Get to know them; they can be great friends for stress and overall health, enhancing your energy levels, protecting you from fatigue and illness, and helping you to unwind. Let's look at the adaptogens first. medicines for the well The adaptogens include a wide variety of natural substances. In practical terms, they improve your ability to adapt to all forms of stress, while at the same time helping to normalize its biochemical effects. Taken as ‘medicines for well people’ adaptogens can be remarkably helpful in keeping you youthful and full of vitality. Russian researcher II Brekhman at the Institute of Marine Biology Far-East Scientific Center of the Academy of Science in Vladivostock has probably done more than any other single scientist to find natural substances with adaptogenic properties, and to test their effects both on animals and humans. One of the first natural substances which Brekhman and his coworkers investigated which had this ability was Panax ginseng. Probably the most well-known and highly respected natural medicine in the world, the ginseng root was first used for medicinal purposes more than 4,000 years ago ‘to restore the five internal organs, tranquilize the spirit, calm agitation of the mind, allay excitement, and ward off harmful influences.’ for perfect harmony Over-processing and heat treatments destroy many of the beneficial effects of the adaptogens; as a result, most of the ginseng you find on the market is pretty useless. You need to choose your products carefully. There are three true ginseng plants: Panax ginseng, which is the original Korean/Chinese plant: Tienchi (Panax noto-ginseng) which is another Eastern version of the plant: And Panax Quinquefolius, or American ginseng. The active chemicals in ginseng are compounds called ginsenosides, of which there are thirteen. They lie at the core of ginseng's anti-stress properties. When choosing ginseng you need to look for a standardized ginseng extract with a guaranteed percentage of ginsenosides. Panax ginseng comes from Korea or China. The best quality roots are the big red ones which are six years old. Second are the white roots and third are the red grown in Japan, so look for country of origin when buying them. The whole roots are best to take, with root pieces and extracts following in that order. Ginseng tablets and powders often contain ‘fillers’ and are much less potent. American ginseng - Panax Quinquefolius - is usually less effective than Panax ginseng, unless you can get large old roots which are hard to come by. Unlike most other stimulants in common use, ginseng does not produce a sudden rapid rise in blood sugar followed by an unpleasant dip in energy. Nor is there any danger of becoming dependent on it. Also, Brekhman and others have found that ginseng acts as a stimulant without causing insomnia, and that it not only helps stave off fatigue but also strengthens the organism as a whole. The beneficial effects of taking ginseng multiply and build up over the period in which it is used. And ginseng's benefits last long afterwards. siberian ginseng Another adaptogen which has now been widely investigated, particularly in the Soviet Union, is eleuthrococcus senticosus or Siberian ginseng. Members of the same family, but really a different species, eleuthrococcus' therapeutic properties were only discovered in the past 50 years. Like ginseng, it has the capacity to strengthen the body's ability to resist illness, degeneration and fatigue, while never upsetting its natural functions. It is also a mild stimulant, the stimulant action lasting between six to eight hours. But its tonic effects are accumulative - they come gradually over a few weeks. They include increased stamina, better sleep patterns, better memory, cleaner thinking and improved athletic performance. Brekhman and many Russian researchers believe that eleuthrococcus is an even better adaptogen than ginseng. But there have so far been very few well-controlled studies to validate their claims. The best form of eleuthrococcus senticosus comes in extract direct from the Soviet Union. It has been carefully low-heat processed to preserve its biological activity. amazon power The most exciting herb I have come across for a long time is suma (Pfaffia paniculata). Locally known as Para Todo - "for everything" - suma has been used by Brazilian Indians for centuries as an aphrodisiac and general tonic. Recent research shows that, like good ginseng, the wild root of the suma plant also has strong adaptogenic proprieties. Suma is well worth looking at as a nutritional support to raise your energy levels, enhance your ability to be very active - both mentally and physically without fatigue or damage - and detoxify your cells as a prevention against premature aging and degeneration. Apart from the adaptogenics, which strengthen the organism against stress, there are two general herbs which can be a real help during times of heavy pressure - echinacea and valerian. daisy with a difference The immune system plays an important part in protecting from stress-damage. For prolonged stress can interfere with the immune system and you can become highly susceptible to infectious illnesses. That's where echinacea comes in handy. Known as Purple Coneflower, echinacea is a member of the Composite (daisy) family with potent antibiotic and anti-viral effects. The roots of two species, E. purpurea and E. angustifolia, have long been used against infection, and in detoxifying the body, by native peoples including the American Plains Indians. In recent years, the herb has been heavily researched in Germany, where numerous scientific studies now verify its health-promoting abilities. In Germany there are now more than 200 prescription products based on echinacea or its derivatives. Echinacea is able to amplify the activity of the immune system not only by helping an ailing body to recover swiftly, but by helping protect from infections such as colds and flu during the long winter months. I find it a welcome friend taken daily as a preventative during ‘flu season’ as well as a great boon to recovery if you feel yourself coming down with an infection. perfect calmer There is one more herb that can be enormously helpful especially when you become so wound up that you find it difficult to come down. Valerian, Valeriana officinalis, lives up beautifully to its folk reputation as a natural tranquilizer. Recent research confirms this common herb has a remarkable ability to normalize the workings of the central nervous system. Scientific research confirms that valerian is a superb natural sedative. One of the major problems with drug-based sleeping pills is that, while they will put you to sleep, they can also interfere with the quality of the sleep you get when taking them, and leave you with a ‘hangover’ of fatigue in the morning. Researchers found that valerian not only significantly improved sleep quality it also left subjects with no hangover the next morning. But it is just as good as a de-tenser. I find it particularly helpful when I have been traveling across time zones as a help in readjusting my sleep patterns. Get acquainted with a few of the best herbal stress-helpers. They are good friends to have around when you need them.

Laugh Hard

Laugh Hard

Laughter and humor are much needed in the over-serious world of health and beauty, a world which tends to measure health not as joyous energy and creativity but in terms of cholesterol levels, blood pressure and sedimentation rates. The irony is, that according to the latest research into the mind body relationship, a life which sparkles with laughter is not only good for you because it feels good, it can also help look after the state of your blood pressure, immune system and cholesterol levels. Some researchers believe laughter can help look after the state of your blood pressure, immune system and cholesterol levels far better than high powered medical care and drugs. Drugs, after all, have deeply worrying side effects. The worst of laughter's side effects is joy. When we laugh we shed feelings of judgment, self pity and blame. Our perception shifts and we come to know another level of consciousness. Laughter deepens your breathing, expands blood vessels, heightens circulation bringing more oxygen to your cells, increases the secretion of hormones beneficial to your body, speeds tissue healing and helps stabilize bodily functions. A new philosophy is emerging from studies carried out in France and Canada by philosopher Andre Moreau on the notion that one should seek in all philosophical teachings the keys for releasing innate human tendencies towards humor, laughter and positive energies. It is known as "Jovialiste" which advocates the practice of smiling as a free expression of human vitality and creativity. Meanwhile, hospitals both in the United States and Europe are even prescribing laughter in the form of Jerry Lewis and Marks Brother's films, humorous books and any other simple triggers to put patients into a blissful state of spontaneous giggles. life on the flip side The way that emotions and health are closely related has been investigated for many years. The scientific press is full of papers which show the way that negative emotions such as anger, resentment, fear and despair are major factors in the development of serious illness from cancer to coronary heart disease. Scientists have charted direct pathways between mind and immunity via anatomical connections that link the brain directly to organs such as the spleen and the thymus gland. They have also shown that hormonal secretions induced by emotions and thought patterns create a second pathway between mind and body which is carried on the blood, and there is strong evidence that excess adrenaline from high levels of stress can significantly depress the body's immune system. But until recently most of the focus of mind-body research has been on the negative. Now, thanks to the new fascination with laughter, many scientists are beginning to investigate the biochemical changes brought about by positive emotions and encouraging their use as tools for health and healing. Researchers now find that laughter, relaxation, meditation and hope not only produce beneficial changes such as lowered heart rate and breathing, they can even improve the way your body responds to stress hormones, and bring about a shift in your perception of potentially stressful situations so you can look on them as challenges rather than as insurmountable problems - a vital attitude in preserving and enhancing the health of your mind and body. One of the very best things of all about laughter is that it breaks through the tendency each of us has to take our self and our values too seriously. It breaks down the roles we play and liberates the self locked within. It is our tendency to identify with our own self-created image, fears, beliefs and assumptions that takes us away from the joy which we believe is normal for each of us to feel. Give yourself a chance to laugh, and it will make you feel more alive, healthier and more beautiful. learn to laugh Seek out and spend time with people who make you laugh - often. Look for books that make you laugh, and keep a file of cartoons and magazine articles which you can share with your friends. Learn to be silly sometimes - like a child. Maybe join a drama class where they do improvisation, or make friends with children who still remember how to laugh and play and let them be your teachers.

Beware The Sneaky Inner Drainers

Beware The Sneaky Inner Drainers

With the best will in the world to live from your core, and the most conscientious attitude towards living a high-energy lifestyle, you may have no idea just how many factors can still drain your energy. Some, such as the way you eat or how much exercise you get, are fairly self-evident. Others, such as the invisible electromagnetic fields that surround you, are more tricky to fathom. The most elusive of all are the silent attitudes and beliefs you hold within. These inner drainers can affect your energy at any moment of the day without your even being conscious of it. When they do, the smallest challenge or inconvenience becomes a tremendous burden, your stress levels soar and your energy levels plummet. Use the following exercise to help identify your inner energy-draining attitudes. 1. How do you usually feel when you wake up in the morning? I just want to go back to sleep I am excited about the day ahead 2. When you look in the mirror do you... Fret over my wrinkles/grey hairs/ blemishes and feel down about myself? Feel pleased about myself and good about the way I look - imperfections and all? 3. When confronted with a difficult task at home or at work do you think... What a pain, perhaps if I avoid it someone else will do it? Here's a good challenge - a way to really stretch myself? 4. Looking forward to a romantic evening do you... Create a scenario of doom in case things work out badly - that way I won't be disappointed? Enjoy imagining how wonderful the evening is going to be? 5. When you have an argument with your partner do you say to yourself... This is typical, he doesn't understand my needs. I'll never have a decent relationship? Maybe getting things out in the open can help us understand one another better and feel closer than before? 6. When you get a cold do you think... Just my luck! I always catch a cold at the worst possible moment? My body is obviously run down. Let me see how I can change my diet or my lifestyle in order to better support my needs? 7. When someone pays you a compliment do you... Dismiss it as untrue and then try to work out what their ulterior motive is? Accept the compliment graciously and thank them for their kindness? 8. What is your attitude towards your job? I hate it. I'm overworked and underpaid, but I have to stick it - there's so much unemployment about I can't expect to find another one? I enjoy my work. It gives me a chance to use my talents in a fulfilling way and I feel personally and financially rewarded? 9. You are tired and decide to spend a restful evening alone. A friend calls feeling down and asks you to go out with her. Do you... Go out with her even though I don't want to because I feel I should - this is the second time she has wanted to get together? Tell her I'm too tired, but I would be happy go out another night and enjoy my evening alone? 10. You are invited to a family christening which you don't want to go to. Do you... Go because I'm expected to. My family make such a fuss if I don't - I hate family gatherings? Either excuse myself because there is something else I want to do or go because I would enjoy making my family happy? 11. When you look back on your past do you Feel resentful about the opportunities I didn't have and regret many of the things I have and haven't done? Feel grateful for the circumstances that have made me who I am and feel that if I could go back I wouldn't change a thing? 12. Do you feel your future happiness depends upon... Finding the right relationship, the right job, earning lots of money and hoping that not too many things go wrong? Continuing to live from my core and allowing my life to unfold with optimistic anticipation? If you identified mostly with the attitudes in the left hand column it is likely that you suffer considerably from the Inner Energy Drainers. Make a note of your beliefs and assumptions - write them down - with regard to some of the key issues in your life: 1. Your physical appearance - Do you believe that you can look the way you'd like to? If not, why not? 2. Your health - Do you believe that you can enjoy good health? If not, why not? 3. Your relationships - Do you believe that you can have good relationships with your friends? Your family? Your lover? If not, why not? 4. Your Home - Do you believe you can live in your ideal home? If not, why not? 5. Your work - Do you believe that you can have a satisfying, enjoyable and well paid job? If not, why not? 6. Your purpose - Do you believe you have a purpose in life? If so, what is it? Do you believe you can fulfil it? If not, why not? It is important to realise just how much the negative beliefs you hold about yourself and your life can limit not only the amount of energy you have, but also your potential for happiness and personal fulfilment. By becoming aware of any limiting belief you secretly carry inside, you can begin the process of melting it away. Then your inner draining attitudes can become inner strengthening ones instead. HANDLING THE EMOTIONAL DRAINERS Just as it is common to hold negative beliefs, so many of us harbor negative feelings which deplete us of energy. A common one is anger. Anger in itself does not drain energy. It can be the driving force to achieving a goal. When anger is held in, however, it can turn into depression or resentment - both significant drainers. Another common energy drainer is fear or anxiety. Here are three techniques useful for clearing negative emotional drainers. The first - The Forgiveness Letter - is especially good for anger or resentment. The second, Give Away, is good for dealing with fear and anxiety when they arise. The last one, Rewrite Your Past, helps you to reorientate the way you see yourself and your life in order to release any chronic negative feelings you may carry. THE FORGIVENESS LETTER Harbored negative feelings corrupt your perspective on life, and lead you to attract negativity from others. They also make you feel bad about yourself. Getting rid of this energy drainer means recognizing your negative feelings and actively choosing to let go of them. Here's how: Write to any person towards whom you feel particularly resentful or angry (or even to "life" itself). List all the offenses you can think of. Don't hold back from telling the person exactly how you feel. At the bottom of the letter write: "I (your name) hereby forgive you (the person's name) entirely for the above grievances. In so doing I bless you and wish you well, I release my ill feelings and honor my right to be whole, to be free and to trust in myself and my life." When you have finished, read the letter out loud to yourself. Then burn it, letting the flames dissolve any remaining negative feelings. GIVE AWAY Beginning to live from your core can be daunting. As you access deeper parts of your being it is not uncommon to experience feelings of fear or anxiety. Although it can be disconcerting to find yourself in a state of anxiety, once you recognise it you can use this simple technique to disperse your fearfulness. The Give-Away exercise is based on the American Indian tradition of offering gifts to Mother Earth. It can help you release negative emotional energy and gain comfort by reconnecting with the earth. Here's how: Stand or sit cross-legged on the floor. Notice your feelings of fear or anxiety, and try to locate the area in your body where you experience them most strongly. Breathe into this place, and each time you breathe out, imagine your feelings flowing down your body and into the ground beneath you. Make an offering of your fear to Mother Earth. As you do, you will feel calmer and more clear. REWRITE YOUR PAST Feeling unhappy about your past can be a real block to living the fullness of the present and the future. When you feel hard done by because of something that did or didn't happen to you, much of your energy gets tied up in feeling resentful or victimized. Just remember, your past belongs to you. Although the events in your past may be fixed in your memory, how you feel towards those events can change. For instance, let's say that you always had a dream to travel the world, but because you got married and began a family early your dream was sacrificed. Either you can feel sour about never getting to do what you wanted to, or you can look at all the richness the pathway you did take has brought you. Think of something in your past that makes you feel victimized. It may be the way you were treated by a parent or lover, some career advice you were/weren't given, an accident or "misfortune" that befell you. Write about your grievance as fully as possible, remembering the details as well as you can. When you have finished, look at the grievance again. This time ask yourself the questions, "Why did I choose this circumstance? How has it served me? What has it taught me? What strengths or qualities has it helped me develop?" Record your answers in your journal. See if you feel any different about your past (or your present and future) at the end of the exercise.

Stress? What Stress?

Stress? What Stress?

What goes up must come down. These words should be engraved on everyone’s brain, particularly those of us who live full and busy lives. We worry about stress, wonder why we don’t do anything about it, and wish it would go away. Seldom do we even stop to ask what it is. If stress gets out of hand it can wear you down, ruin your looks and destroy your peace of mind. Yet stress is the spice of life, the exhilaration of challenge and excitement, the ‘high’ of living with heavy demands. The big secret about stress is that it is not what appears to be causing it that does the damage. It’s how you respond to it that does that. Change your attitude to stress and you can make it work for you rather than against you. In short, chill out. Stress is hard to pin down: fatigue, overwork, loss of blood, physical injury, grief and joy can all produce stress, but none of them accurately describes what it is. The word stress comes from the language of engineering meaning ‘any force which causes an object to change’. Austrian-Canadian scientist, Hans Selye, first coined the word stress in relation to humans back in the 1930s. In human terms it refers to your body’s response to physical, chemical, emotional or spiritual forces that ask you to adapt to them. Selye discovered a typical physical reaction to stress which he called the General Adaptation Syndrome. Its function is to keep your body in a steady state, known as homeostasis. Every stressor you come into contact with threatens to destroy this steady state. The General Adaptation Syndrome has three states: alarm, where the body becomes alert; resistance, where all systems go in order to meet the challenge and protect you from harm; and exhaustion, which happens if stress lasts for too long and the body’s weakest systems begin to break down causing illness, chronic fatigue, even death. you are unique Everyone responds differently to stress. This depends to some degree on your conditioning, and on the amount of adaptive energy you were born with. This is why some people seem to breeze through stressful situations while others quickly reach exhaustion. Selye believed that once adaptive energy is used up, nothing can be done to restore it. We now know that this is not altogether true, but adaptive energy is certainly precious. This makes it imperative to examine carefully how yours is being used and if it is being burnt up unnecessarily. It also makes it important to remember that what goes up must come down. For making stress work for you means being able to switch off at will. This is something that most of us have to learn to do. Learn to move easily between stress and relaxation, and you will begin to experience your life as a satisfying and enriching challenge like the ebb and flow of the tides. Then you will never again have to worry about getting stuck in a high-stress condition which saps your energy, distorts your view of the world, and can lead to premature aging and chronic illness. Humans are natural seekers of challenge. Primitive man faced the daily challenge of survival – when in danger, the body reacted instantaneously to provide the energy needed to fight or flee, then relaxed again when the danger passed. We may no longer need to worry about meeting a saber-toothed tiger, but we still react to stress with the same physical responses – raised blood pressure and breathing, a rush of adrenaline throughout the body. The trouble is that modern life, with its noise, quick pace, social pressures, environmental poisons, and our tendency to sedentary, mental work, presents many of us with almost constant threat situations. This is particularly true in the business world where someone, instead of moving rhythmically in and out stressful situations, remains in the danger state for long periods, with all the internal physical conditions that accompany it. balance it The automatic, or involuntary, functions of your body are governed by the autonomic nervous system. It looks after the changes in the rate at which your heart beats. It regulates your blood pressure by altering the size of veins and arteries. It stimulates the flow of digestive juices and brings on muscular contractions in the digestive system to deal with the foods you take in. It makes you sweat when you are hot and is responsible for the physical changes in your body that come with sexual arousal. This autonomic system has two opposing branches: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. The sympathetic branch is concerned with energy expenditure - particularly the energy involved with stress and meeting challenges. It spurs the heart to beat faster, makes you breathe hard, encourages you to sweat, raises your blood pressure, and sends blood to the muscles to get you ready for action. The other branch of the autonomic nervous system - the parasympathetic - is concerned with rest and regeneration rather than action. The parasympathetic branch slows your heartbeat, reduces the flow of air to your lungs, stimulates the digestive system, and helps relax your muscles. When you are in a state of stress, the sympathetic nervous system comes into play. The parasympathetic branch is dominant when you are relaxed. A good balance between the two is the key to making stress work for you. Balance makes it possible for you to go out into the world to do, to make, to create, to fight, and to express yourself, as well as to retire into yourself for regeneration, rest, recuperation, enjoyment, and the space to discover new ideas and plant the seeds of future actions. make stress work for you The secret is getting the right balance between stress and relaxation, between the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches. Unfortunately, few of us get it right by accident - we have to learn. Take a look at the kind of stress you think you are under, eliminate unnecessary stressors, and discover new ways of working with stress. Second, begin to support your body physically with food, exercise and natural stress relievers to enable you to face stress with ease. Finally, learn to relax fully so that you can find the right balance between stress and relaxation and keep it. Not only will this help your body stay in balance and increase your level of overall vitality, it can bring you a sense of control over your life that is hard to come by any other way.

Get Energy

Get Energy

Nothing gives a woman power so much as energy. It brings a light to your eye, a glow to your skin, an edge to your personality. When you are riding a wave of energy, it seems to carry you wherever you want to go. When it crashes, it can leave you feeling lost and lumpy. Energy is elusive stuff. High energy means, more than anything else, an ability to live fully, to give of your very best and to be open to all the good things life has to offer. In many ways it is a little like being a child again, where the colors are so vivid and the world is so full of wonder. Now is the time to take a look at your own energy habits and see if maybe some of them need changing. Then, gradually, you will be able to create for yourself a high-energy lifestyle which in time will become second nature. Once you learn how to tap into the energy within yourself, once you experience how good a high-energy life style can make you feel, energy will never again be something you have to worry about. All of us have a lot more potential energy than we ever access. For most of us our natural energy lies buried deep in a sluggish body burdened with excessive toxicity, or a psyche wrestling with frustration or disappointment. Break through the barriers by making changes in how you think, eat and live to help you turn potential energy into lasting vitality. Certain underlying conditions such as food allergies, yeast overgrowths and environmental pollutants can undermine our natural energy rights. Identify the presence of any of the big energy drainers in your life, and take steps to clear them. There are tricks and treatments to help you build steady energy week after week and year after year, and to get that extra energy temporarily when you most need it. Discover for yourself the greatest energy secret of all, that living a high energy life is ultimately about learning to listen to the whispers of our own souls and to live out the truth of who we really are and what we really value. power when you need it Everyone has experienced the ability to summon up energy almost magically,  when we need it most, to cope with particularly demanding situations - the appearance of a ‘second wind'. It happens when you have been up all night nursing a sick child and thought you couldn't possibly drag up another ounce of strength. It happens when all-encompassing fatigue somehow disappears into thin air with the unexpected arrival of a much-loved friend you haven't seen for years; and when an athlete discovers he can call forth extra strength on the last lap of a long race. All of these things summon energy because, in our psyche, we ask for it right then to do what we want passionately to do. Feeling passionate about anything releases potential energy, both in immediate circumstances such as these where it is needed, and also long-term where we need energy to carry out some task we are deeply committed to, or do something we love. And living with energy has a lot to do with living with passion. The more passionately you live your life, the more energy you will generate. Do what you love, love what you do and be honest about it. Much of our energy comes from within. lifestyle energy factors But this is only half of the energy picture. The amount of vitality available to you day by day to live your life also comes from external forces - from the way you eat, exercise, deal with stress, look after your body, as well as how skillful you can become at listening to its needs and its promptings. For most of us, this doesn't happen automatically, nor does a high energy way of life. We have to learn what creates more energy in our lives and also learn to be wary of all the things which can impede it. Take toxicity in your body for instance. The build up of waste products in the cells restricts metabolic processes and depletes us of energy both biochemically - so we become more prone to illness and premature aging - and in terms of over-all stamina and vitality, or how energetic we feel subjectively. Internal pollution can also result in a great variety of unwanted conditions, from cellulite to poor skin, anxiety and degenerative conditions such as arthritis, obesity and cancer. In the highly polluted environment in which most of us live these days, our bodies tend to build up more waste than they are able to eliminate efficiently. Such a build-up suppresses our energy. It needs to be eliminated and prevented in the future. We will look closely at how to do this in chapters to come. To maximize vitality you also need to learn to manage your energies when they need managing - how to get down when you become strung up, how to stimulate vitality when it is low, and how to create stamina and sustained power that acts as a foundation of energy which you can always call on when you need it. We will take a good look at how to do this too. living high It may surprise you, but the first step towards a high energy life is not a physical one, but is a change in how you think: Begin to visualize what living with sustained energy feels like. This can be hard to do when you feel chronically fatigued, depressed and discouraged. "Will my life ever get better?" We ask ourselves. I know. I lived for many years with chronic fatigue and depression - for which doctors could find no apparent cause. I have experienced the struggle and sense of hopelessness one can feel. In fact,in a very real way, those years helped shape the values of my life and set me on the road to learning, writing, and broadcasting on health - because nobody seemed able to help me, I began to look for my own answers. What I learned did help me and I went on to share it with others through books, television, videos and workshops. shift your perspective Our culture teaches us that all phenomena in the Universe, even life itself, are no more than a complex, yet explicable, series of chemical and physical reactions devoid of any unseen organizing principle. Such a worldview has its limitations. We tend to favor the notion that man's task is to ‘harness nature' for his own ends - and then are appalled at the results. Such a materialistic worldview has contributed to a sense of human alienation expressed in our art, literature, and in destructive social behavior. It is also responsible in no small part for our flagging energy. For we often tend to dissipate ourselves trying to fulfill all sorts of roles and follow all sorts of rules imposed on ourselves from outside. We are told that we need to go to the gym to give us more energy, and also that we need to eat the latest ‘healthy' margarine promoted by the food industry. We are urged to do our jobs well, no matter what distractions or restrictions we may have, and we feel we need to keep going to meet all our deadlines however much our bodies may be telling us we need to stop and rest. We have also been conditioned by a culture that affirms the value of altruism and insists that one should forget oneself in constant service and self-sacrifice to others. If you are serious about wanting more energy, you need to make a shift in how you think about yourself and your life. Gaining more energy is not simply a case of changing a few seemingly unrelated things in your life, it is a change in attitude and lifestyle that follows a simple yet powerful personal choice: The choice to support your body and mind in the best possible ways. Once you make such a choice, then you can begin to make positive changes towards creating more energy. As you do you will also find other positive changes taking place, and still more, as the greater access to energy in one area of your life allows you to deal more clearly with fatigue in another.

Natural Mood Helpers For Stress, anxiety And Depression. Alternatives to Antidepressants

Natural Mood Helpers For Stress, anxiety And Depression. Alternatives to Antidepressants

In our vastly overmedicated society, a mind-boggling 230 million prescriptions for antidepressants are filled every year. Over the course of one decade, their use has doubled—they are now the most popular class of drugs in the US. Yet they are far from the miracle drugs many believe them to be. Not only do they carry the risk of seriously dangerous side effects. Many trials have suggested they are no more, and perhaps even less, effective than placebos—mere sugar pills. In light of all this, it would be a mistake to ignore the safe, effective help for anxiety and depression provided by nature, which comes in the form of some wonderful herbs and supplements. It’s vital that you become aware of these natural alternatives in case you, or one of your loved ones, are in need of the remarkable healing they can bring. Natural Remedies For Depression - Banish The Blues There are many causes of depression—some are of the body and some of the psyche. I don’t think you can separate the two. Just as body and mind feed each other in producing the dark, seemingly endless blues which can set in at any period of your life, the herbs you call on for help will improve both body and spirit. When you feel depressed, you can feel anxious as well. Many of the plants which are effective in lifting the blues also help to clear fear and anxiety. Here are a couple of the best. St John’s Wort Known botanically as Hypericum perforatum, St John’s Wort is possibly the best herbal antidepressant nature has to offer. Its Latin name means ‘over an apparition’—a reference to the belief that a mere whiff of St Johns Wort will banish any evil spirit. Used since the time of the Greeks and Romans to treat nerve-related disorders, it is now the most commonly prescribed antidepressant in Germany. This makes good sense when you look at the research: At least 23 randomized clinical trials have shown that this plant is just as effective as standard antidepressant drugs, if not moreso. It’s earned its name as “nature’s answer to Prozac”, but can be used without fear of the dangerous side effects that pharmaceuticals bring. How to use The bright yellow flowers of St John’s Wort contain a red oil called hypericin which is antiviral and probably mood enhancing. Many studies show that it is whole plant extracts, however, rather than hypericin alone, that have the best anti-depressant effects. You can pick the flowers, leaves and stems of St John’s Wort while the plant is in flower. Dry them quickly, as you want to preserve the red oil in the flowers. To make tea, use 1-2 teaspoons of the dried herb in a cup of boiling water. Steep for 10-15 minutes, strain, and drink 3 times a day. One of the most effective ways to use St John’s Wort for depression is as a tincture. Take 1 teaspoon of St John’s Wort tincture in a little water 3 times a day. It should be taken for at least a month before results can be expected. A lucky few people, however, respond right away. Nature's Tranquilizer The drug valium takes its name from a plant. Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) was the primary herbal sedative used on both sides of the Atlantic before the advent of barbiturate sleeping pills. It is a safe and well-tested herbal remedy with a smell like dirty old socks. But don’t let that put you off since valerian is a powerful herb for inducing safe sleep – more potent than hops or camomile. You can take valerian in a couple of ways. I like the tincture best – 10 to 20 drops in a little water before bedtime or in the middle of the night when you awaken. Alternatively you can take a couple of capsules of the dried root. Valerian in lower doses is equally useful when your nerves feel ‘shot’, even during the day. It has the remarkable ability to enhance your ability to deal with stress and bring you stamina while it calms. Very occasionally, and only to a very few people, valerian will cause a hangover in the morning, if this happens to you lower the dose or try a different herb. Sam-E Short for S-adenosyl methionine, Sam-E was discovered in Italy in 1952. It is not actually a herb, but an amino acid, which occurs naturally in our bodies when we are in good health. However it easily becomes depleted by stress, illness and deficiencies. Though it has been popular for treating depression in Europe since 1975, it has largely remained unknown elsewhere in the world—that is, until recently, when it became available in the US. It’s still unknown exactly how it works to lift depression. One hypothesis suggests that it can increase the availability of two neurotransmitters that regulate our mood: serotonin and dopamine. Studies repeatedly find in its favor compared with pharmaceuticals and placebo. (You may be interested to read this 2002 analysis of depression trials by the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality) Sam-E is especially recommended for those who have tried and not responded to traditional prescription antidepressants. Help From Omegas Last but not least, there is ever growing evidence to demonstrate the importance of fatty acids in the diet to guard against depression. In particular, the levels of omega-3 in the blood of depressed individuals was found to be significantly lower than those of non-depressed people. This is in addition to the wealth of other well-documented benefits that omega-3s bestow. Yet in the United States alone, it is estimated that over 90% of adults are deficient in this essential fatty acid. Therefore, adding a good quality omega-3 supplement to your diet (see recommendations below) is one simple and effective measure you can take to bolster your mental and overall wellbeing. LESLIE RECOMMENDS I have tested all of the products that follow, both personally and with others who wanted to leave behind antidepressant drugs in favor of natural alternatives. I have also listed below what I believe to be the best brand you can buy in the case of each product. Valerian Root Liquid Phyto-Caps - Gaia Herbs' patented technology delivers a concentrated full spectrum alcohol-free liquid extract in a 100% vegetarian capsule. Extra Strength Liquid Phyto-Caps For Ultimate Support of Restful Sleep 100% Vegetarian A Dietary Supplement Not to be used during pregnancy or lactation. If you have a medical condition or take pharmaceutical drugs, please consult with your doctor Order Gaia Herbs-Valerian Root from iherb Omega 3-6-9 Essential Fatty Acids in Hexane Free Nutritional Oils A balanced blend of two essential polyunsaturated fatty acids (and their derivatives) necessary for many body functions: Omega-3 oil from Flax Seed and Canola, and Omega-6 oil (GLA) from Primrose and Black Currant. Oleic Acid, an Omega-9 oil from Canola and Flax Seed, is a monounsaturated fat not considered "essential" but does play beneficial roles in human health. Order Now Foods - Omega 3-6-9, 1000 mg from iherb Flora, St. John's Wort Extract A Wild-grown Full-Spectrum Extract. Flora's premium St. John's Wort is prepared in the traditional manner using freshly gathered wild-grown St. John's Wort flowers. They are sun-infused in extra-virgin olive oil for 1,000 hours to maximize extraction of the full-spectrum active principles into the oil. Flora's St. John's Wort can help reduce the effects of mild depression, anxiety, and nervous tension caused by daily stress. Order Flora, St. John's Wort Extract from iherb Nature's Bounty, SAM-e The body makes SAM-e from the amino acid methionine. However, you may not be able to obtain sufficient methionine levels simply by ingesting food. In addition, because of age or other factors, levels of SAM-e can fluctuate or decline. Supplementation with SAM-e is the easiest way to increase intake. The enteric coating helps the breakdown of SAM-e occur in the small intestine. In addition, the enteric coating is designed to protect SAM-e from moisture and serve as a protective barrier so that SAM-e can be absorbed where it can provide you with the greatest benefits. Order Nature's Bounty, SAM-e from iherb ORDERING FROM IHERB.COM: Get $5 OFF your first order. They ship all over the world very cheaply, and their products are the cheapest and best in the world. Get your order sent to you via DHL. I use them for almost everything no matter where I am.

Stress Is A Gift

Stress Is A Gift

The idea that stress is all bad is patent nonsense. As human beings we would be little more than vegetables without stress in our lives. Also, and most important, the more committed we are to the lives we are leading and the more right they are for us, the less likely we are to suffer the ravages of stress. Nevertheless we worry about stress, wonder about it, and wish it would go away. Yet seldom do we even stop to ask what it is. Little wonder. For stress is complicated even to define. YOU NEED STRESS TO LIVE The word stress comes from the language of engineering, meaning “any force which causes an object to change.” In engineering the specific change caused by stress is known as strain and there are four possible kinds: torsion, tensile, compression and sheering. In human terms the strain is you body's response to physical, chemical, emotional or spiritual forces, asking in some way that you adapt to them. As we learn this art, we also discover a great secret: How stress can become the spice of life, the exhilaration of challenge and excitement, the high of living with heavy demands on you and and thriving. For, like the tempering process involved in the production of a piece of good steel, once you make a friend of stress, forces which had seemed to be working against you become positive energies that define you, strengthen you and help you express your own brand of creativity and joy. This is one of the great gifts that stress has to offer. Without physical and mental challenges your body would become feeble and you would never feel the excitement and creative energy which are such an important part of wellbeing. But too much stress can be a killer since stress, or rather the inability to cope with it, is the common denominator in all disease states. It is also a strong contributing cause in almost every illness to which we are susceptible. Develop methods for neutralizing the negative effects of stress and you can begin to thrive on its positive aspects. TOSS OUT THE PILLS Drug-based therapy is not the answer: the a million tons of Valium swallowed each year, as well as sleeping pills and other tranquillizers, produce unpleasant and dangerous side-effects ranging from addiction to acute rage, withdrawal, long-term worsening of anxiety symptoms, sub-clinical vitamin and mineral deficiencies, aggressiveness and even acute psychotic episodes. New evidence indicates that taking tranquillizers may also encourage the growth of tumours, impair neuromuscular coordination and make takers more prone to road accidents. Quite apart from the detrimental effects these drugs exert on mind and body, the fact that they treat only the symptoms of overload and do absolutely nothing towards eliminating the causes, means they can never make a positive contribution to wellbeing. What’s worse, relying on pills weakens your ability to cope with life and undermines your autonomy and your self-esteem. QUICK ENERGY NOW It is actually possible to breathe in energy whenever you feel burdened with worry and fatigue. Try this for a couple of minutes: Close your eyes. Breathe slowly and deeply from your diaphragm, so your stomach (not your chest) swells with each in breath. Imagine that you are breathing in vitality from the air to fill your whole body through your solar plexus. As you breathe in, feel that your whole body is becoming more and more relaxed. Imagine it as a centre of immense light radiating outward in all directions, as though you are taking in energy through the solar plexus itself, transforming it into light and radiating it out again everywhere. YOUR FEELINGS MATTER Emotional stressors in your life can take their toll. But f most emotional hurdles can be overcome. Take a look at what continues to trigger off the stress response in your own life. Ask yourself whether it is something which prevents you from turning a lot of your energy to more constructive use. Some stressors provide challenges from which we can grow. Others are simply habitual. They lead nowhere and bring little in terms of increasing awareness or your ability to make better use of your energy. If there are any of these in your life see if you can eliminate them. For instance, take a look at the work you do and ask yourself if you find it really satisfying. Are the financial responsibilities you have taken on really necessary? Can you reduce them in any way? If so, have the courage to drop them and to accept the changes this will bring about; this too can make you stronger. We humans have a tendency to hang on to the status quo at all costs - and often the cost is in terms of lost adaptive energy - occasionally even life. Regardless of whether you learn the world's finest techniques for meditation to counteract stress, if you are in a job you hate year after year or are faced with a relationship that no longer has meaning for you, they will do little good. To make stress work you must not only face up to its demands, but also take responsibility for removing it wherever it is no longer useful and relevant to you. GET INTO JOY Each of us needs to develop our own personal ways of throwing off stress. A walk in the woods for clearing consciousness is something quite specifically ordered by Tibetan doctors to patients who suffer from rapid swings of mood and worry. Or you could try sailing, running, dancing, gardening, listening to music or some other form of hobby. I have a passion, verging on an addiction, for good movies. Explore them all. Find out what works best for you and make it an important part of your day-to-day life. By eliminating unnecessary stressors from your life, practising relaxation and exercise, and becoming more and more aware of which challenges are important to you and which you are better off without, you will develop a way of being which will keep you free from unnecessary illness. You will soon be tapping the kind of vitality and enthusiasm a child has which most adults have long forgotten. A special bonus too - you will quite automatically preserve your good looks and vitality decade after decade. THE ART OF SIGHING When you begin to unwind and let go the muscles' tension, the release is often accompanied by a very slow deep breath - in fact, a sort of sigh. You can use sighing throughout the day to calm your nerves and prevent tensions building up. Think of a stress producing situation which occurs fairly frequently at work, e.g. the telephone ringing and each time it happens, take a deep breath and let it out again, then answer the phone. Be sure to let your shoulders drop as you inhale and breathe deeply down into your belly and lower back. Let the lower ribs expand away from your spine as much behind as in front. When you exhale, don't collapse, but think of your head and spine lengthening upwards. THE BLISS OF BALANCE Stress and relaxation are like two sides of a coin. Learn to move easily from one to another and you will begin to experience your life as a satisfying and enriching challenge like the ebb and flow of the tides. Then you will never again have to worry about getting stuck in a high-stressed condition which saps your vitality, distorts your perceptions and can even lead to premature ageing and chronic illness. The secret of getting the right balance between stress and relaxation is threefold. First, take a look at the kind of stress that is part of your life, eliminate unnecessary stressors and discover new ways of working with the others. Second, learn one or more techniques for conscious relaxation and practise them until they become second nature. Finally, explore ways of expanding your mind, honouring your individuality and for creating an environment that supports both. Not only will this help your body stay in balance and increase your level of overall vitality, it can bring you a sense of control over your life that is hard to come by any other way.

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