Monday, November 16, 2009

Stress Management

I have taken stress management courses in the past which I found to be very helpful. Stress can be a killer if you don't know how to cope with it. Obviously some stress is good or we'd be unproductive, athletics would be boring to watch, and we'd never get anything done. Good stress is referred to as eustress and is beneficial in our lives. It's the bad chronic stress we need to watch out for since it will wear down your body and mind.

I hate to make broad generalizations and stereotypes, but I am envious of my Polynesian friends who always seem to be relaxed and fun to be around. I don't know if it is just a cultural difference, but there are times I'd like a Hawaiian blood transfusion. Obviously there is much more to understanding stress than determining if you are a type A or B personality. Even the most kicked back personalities have to deal with stress.

There are many ways people deal with stress. Some turn to things like procrastination or stress induced eating, but these only compound your problems and make things worse. Instead try to incorporate some of the following practices into your daily routine.

Deep Breathing
Learn how to say no to people
Take short breaks from work to relax
Write in a journal
Have a support group/talk to friends
Watch a funny movie
Take a hot bath or get a massage
Improve your time management skills
Take time off or go on vacation

Failure to cope with stress properly can be detrimental to your health. Keeping it bottled up only makes things worse, so figure what techniques work best for you. One of the biggest causes of free radicals is stress. Participating in one of these stress reduction strategies could be as beneficial as eating a meal rich in antioxidants. I think that getting a massage may be as good for you as eating a plate of broccoli.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Helping Others

I know when I try to focus on improving my health it is easy to get consumed with my favorite subject-me. Am I eating like I should? Am I getting enough sleep? What exercises should I be doing? Can you pick up on the trend? As important as I think it is to do these things I can see how some people including myself can get self absorbed with their quest to improve their health.

In order to improve the quality of one's life and health, I think it is also important to watch out for others. Serving others and helping other people will bring you greater joy in your life than you could get if you had the ideal weight, measurements, and body fat composition. I also believe it gives a person more purpose. I have read many studies which indicate people with family, friends, and pets to care for are healthier and live longer.

That reminds me of Dr. Victor Frankl who was a psychiatrist who spent time in several concentration camps during World War 2. He attributed the survival of many of the prisoners he observed to their ability to serve and take care of others under such horrific conditions rather than focusing on their own suffering.

I believe there is a link between altruism and not only improved mental and emotional health, but also physical health. Developing one's social health and helping others is not usually recognized as a component of fitness programs, but it can make a positive difference.