Do You Need to Detox your Body? Find Out if your In Need of a Detox…….

Where Do Toxins Come From?

Toxins come from almost everywhere these days. They can be ingested through your food, breathed in through the air, absorbed through your skin and even created within your body as a result of normal metabolic processes. No matter how clean your diet is, toxins are a daily reality.

That’s why your body was designed to detox. You have an organ of elimination for every organ system, and you have two main detox organs which are your liver and your kidneys. Both your liver and kidneys work to filter substances from your blood and body fluids in order to prepare them for excretion.

Why Detox?

So, if the body is set up to detox, then why would you need to do a detox program? There are several reasons you may choose to participate in a detox program but the main one for most people is that you could have a toxic load within your body that it is not currently capable of or even designed to deal with.

Most of the toxins your body has to deal with on a daily basis such as car exhaust, preservatives, additives and hormones in your food, chemicals in your drinking water, chemicals in home cleaning products and self-care products and so on did not even exist less than 100 years ago. Environmental toxins are one thing, and if you were living off the land with no exposure to man made chemicals your body would most likely never need a detox program. But if you are living in the modern world your body could use some help with the toxic load.

A well planned detox program should be one that supports the innate function of your detoxification systems. That is, it should support your liver, your kidneys, your lymphatic and your digestive systems. It is really about giving your body a boost, not so much about getting it to do something it is not already doing.

Take this Quiz: Top 11 Signs That Your Body May Be Asking For A Detox

If you find you have checked off 1 or more of the signs from this list, it means your body is likely asking you to give it a break! Click here when you’re done taking the quiz for a FREE 1 Day Detox.

1. Constant Food Cravings: If you find that you are continually dealing with food cravings and find it difficult to regulate your eating you may need a simple detox to help regulate your system. Many foods are designed to be addictive and one of the easiest ways to get over the addictive effect is to eliminate them from your system for a period of time.

2. Chronic Inflammation: When the tissues of the body are in a chronic and constant state of inflammation it may be a sign that your body is overloaded. If your body is bogged down with toxins your body won’t have the resources to properly deal with inflammation. It could also be a sign that there are substances in your system that are causing inflammation that need to be cleared out.

3. Gas and Bloating: This is one of the most common signs that the body needs a bit of a break. When you are having constant issues with gas and bloating it can be a sign that your colon has some built up waste and requires some extra support to eliminate. When you are not eliminating properly waste can build up in the colon, causing fermentation which will produce excess gas and lead to bloating.

4. Weakened Immune System: If you are finding that you are starting to catch every bug that is going around the reason may be that your body is dealing with an excess of toxins and just doesn’t have the strength to allocate additional resources to fight infection elsewhere. So, being sick frequently is a red flag that your body has become an environment that facilitates the growth of bacteria and viruses.

5. Poor Sleeping Habits: If you are finding that your sleeping habits are all over the place it could be that your body needs a little reset to help it return to a state of health and wellness. The liver is very active during the hours of 1-3 am, so if you are finding that you often wake up during this time of night it could be a sign that your liver is struggling with its toxic load.

6. Mental Fog: Decreased ability to focus, lack of clear thinking, memory loss and other cognitive symptoms can all be linked to a toxic overload in the body. When your body is clean and clear your mind will generally follow suit.

7. Fatigue and Constant Energy Crashes: If you have a hard time getting up in the morning, find you are dragging by 10 am, and need that afternoon cup of coffee to avoid falling asleep at your desk it may be time for a detox. You should feel good and have constant energy throughout the day and if this is not the case you may need a cleanse.

8. Holiday Eating Has Become A Habit: If you are having a hard time getting off of the holiday eating plan, meaning that you are finding that treats, extra snacks, sweets and large portions have become a mainstay in your diet, you may want to consider doing a little reset to help get you back on the healthy eating track. Having an abrupt interruption of your habits can be one of the easiest ways to break a habit that does not serve your health.

9. Skin Breakouts: The skin is the bodies largest detox organ, and if you find that you are dealing with constant breakouts it is possible that the cause is an over abundance of toxins in your body fighting to get out. Skin issues can also be a sign that you have some hormonal imbalances going on, and doing a simple cleanse can help give you more clarity on what the cause is for you.

10. Sluggish Digestion: If you are finding that you are not eliminating 3 times a day, you may need a detox. An efficient digestive system should be releasing waste as many times a day as you eat. Most people are not eliminating this often and that can lead to built up waste in the system which can produce toxins to be re-absorbed into the bloodstream. Also if you are noticing incomplete breakdown of your food in your stools this can be a sign that your digestive system needs a break and a boost.

11. Poor Moods: If you struggle with low level anxiety, depression, mood fluctuations, short temper or just a general lack of emotional wellbeing it could be time for a little detox. We often store our emotions in our bodies and if we are not fully releasing, those emotions can become stagnant and stuck. An overly toxic body can also lead to improper neurotransmitter function which will effect your moods. If your organs of elimination are sluggish, especially your liver, you may be dealing with blood sugar imbalances that can lead to poor moods as well.

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Oils, Herbs and the Lord!!!!! Oh My!!!!!

My recent oil obsession extends beyond using the likes of grapeseed and vitamin E oil to moisturize my skin. I’ve also really gotten into using essential oils for aromatherapy lately, and these babies work surprisingly well for things like boosting concentration, helping with hangovers and general stress relief, I am loving this too much!!!!  and Herbs Oh my that is a whole nother blog in itself!!!!!!

I’m not new to essential oils entirely. A friend  introduced me to tea tree oil right at the time I was learning about herbs and ones that help with Stress. —I found out real quick that all the oils and lotions at  Bath & Body Works “Warm Vanilla Sugar” Spray — was full of toxic crap. So I started dabbing a little tea tree oil on my neck and wrists instead, sometimes mixing it up with peppermint or cedarwood or rose hip seed oil. They all smelled so pretty! I had no idea, however, about potential skin/health/brain benefits. Really had no idea at all what these Oils could do and how healthy they were for you, so of course I was off on a New Adventure and this one is a good one, I started downloading all e-books I could find, going to the Health food stores and finding out all the Information I could on everything but especially on how to reduce stress thru Oils and Herbs and Wow, is all I can say!!!!!!!!

I’ve since learned that rose hip seed oil has anti-aging and skin-healing properties. Cedarwood oil  can be an insect repellent (try combining with citronella oil). Tea tree oil is also good as an acne spot treatment, an antibacterial agent and — when combined with peppermint & vinegar — a kitchen counter cleaner that doesn’t make me want to die (can’t stand the smell of most houses on cleaning day).

But only very recently have I begun to appreciate the effects of essential oils on moods and matters of the mind. Lavender, lemon balm, eucalyptus … name an essential oil and it’s alleged to help with some specific mood or mind matter. It’s tempting to dismiss it all has hippie nonsense — I did, for years — but there’s actually been quite a bit of scientific research done on aromatherapy in general and some essential oils in particular.

Here are a few of the best essential oils for relieving stress, promoting good moods and improving mental focus at the same time.

Lavender. Lavender oil is considered one of — perhaps the most –medicinally useful botanical for stress relief, anxiety relief and short-term memory improvement. The lavender plant contains compounds called linalool and linalyl acetate that can pass through the blood-brain-barrier and quickly affect brain activity. In an April 2012 study, volunteers underwent mood assessments and brain scans after inhaling lavender oil. Compared to a control group, the lavender oil group categorized themselves as more relaxed but also sharper; brain scans showed increased activity in theta and alpha brain waves, associated with the conscious mind being disengaged.

Lemon balm. The herb lemon balm (aka Melissa) has been used medicinally for hundreds of years. In Europe, it’s still commonly used to help with stress, anxiety and insomnia. But though lemon balm is known to calm the mind, it can also improve memory and increase ability to concentrate and solve problems. In a 2003 study, British students given lemon balm capsules performed better on computer memory tests and tests of calmness. There’s also been research demonstrating its positive brain benefits for dementia patients when used as aromatherapy.

Rosemary. Rosemary aromatherapy can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, promoting calm and contentment, while simultaneously boosting mood and mental performance. A recent study showed a compound in rosemary oil (1,8-cineole) can help improve mental speed and accuracy.

Vanilla. So the Bath & Body Works vanilla spray had to go, but vanilla itself — pure vanilla — is a great scent to have around. According to a study from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, patients who breathed vanilla-scented air while undergoing MRIs reported 63% less anxiety than an unscented air group. The scent appears to have general mood enhancing and stress relieving affects; it may also improve cognitive performance thanks to its anti-inflammatory power.

This superb aromatic essential oil blend contributes actively to your quest for serenity and relaxation. Thanks to their relaxing olfactive properties, the selected aromatic extracts facilitate a good mental balance and help to manage the daily pressure in case of tension, of temporary stress.The delicate fragrance of cedarwood Atlas and the lemony aromatic accents give real olfactive pleasure. – See more at: http://www.puzhen.com/zen-essential-oil.html/#sthash.G868Kt0Z.dpuf

 

Ylang Ylang

This essential oil has great benefits to heart health. It resolves issues such as palpitations of the heart, eases the body tension and helps to balance the hormones of the body. It also has high therapeutic effects to ensure that people sleep well at night after the stress of the day. It is also good for the skin especially for skin tones that range from normal to dry skins. Essentially, Ylang Ylang stands out in a niche of its own.

Geranium

This essential oil is the key in boosting the immune system and it is also very important in handling issues that relate to menopause in women. It balances the hormones in the body and it is also good for mature skin and can be used for other forms of skin care. Generally, geranium calms the nerves and it uplifts and balances the body system.

Frankincense

Both historically and in line with ancient traditions, this oil has a rich background. Botanically known as Boswellia Carterii, this oil is quite soothing and calming. It is one of the best options in putting the body and soul at ease. This beautifully fragranced and richly endowed oil works against various forms of irritation and lack of sleep. As with most essential oils, it is also good for the body and helps to relieve the nerves when it is tense or exhausted. Frankincense is a good option and delivers high value to its users.

Bergamot

This essential oil which is also known as sunshine oil. Botanically known as Citrus Bergamia, it helps in ensuring that energy flows freely throughout the body. It is also good to handle emotionally based issues (anxiety, stress and depression can easily be handled with the use of this essential oil). The beauty of this product is that the user can determine how best to work the application on the body. It can be used strictly as a bath product or for body use.

Rose

Premenstrual syndrome can sometimes lead to hormonal imbalance and this can lead to certain levels of discomfort to our nerves. Rose essential oil is very good for handling this issue. It is good on the nerves and also very calming and soothing to the skin. It is pertinent to note that some individuals have a uniquely sensitive skin and when this scenario arises, the best bet is to make use of rose essential oil.

Passionflower

While passionflower has long been considered a “folk remedy” for anxiety and insomnia, a few studies have shown that the herb may actually be comparable in effectiveness to benzodiazepine drugs, which are used to treat stress. Though not proven, it is believed that passionflower works by increasing levels of a chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. This lowers the activity of some brain cells, making you feel more relaxed.

Passionflower is available in a variety of forms, including infusions, teas, liquid extracts and tinctures. It is not recommended for children or for women who are pregnant or nursing. Consult your doctor before adding it to your diet, especially if you are taking other medications.

As you can see there are many many Oils for Stress Relief and then there are Blends already made up that you can just spray on yourself, I still have a lot of research to do, but I am loving this and I hope to have a great e-book done soon to help others who are in the position I was in just not that long ago, but it is not just the Oils and Herbs for which I highly believe they work so much better then any drug that can be prescribed to you but I also fully 100% believe that the Bible , the Word has done Wonders for me and my Stress levels, I have come to know God in such a way that our relationship has built up to an intimate one where I spend almost an hour each morning with him, and I meditate as well on the word that I have read that specific morning and when I do, I wait on the Lord to speak to me, the Lord has saved me these past few years, and Highly recommend that you start reading the Word, because without God in your Life, you will live in Darkness and no Oils or Herbs can help you then. I fully believe in keeping your body Healthy for that is where the Lords Spirit dwells , so my quest to keep  my body as Healthy as I can is coming from, then there is your Mind, Wow, your Mind , it has to be renewed Daily with the Lord’s word, Positive Alive Words that come only from the Lord, and of course your Spirit!!!! and as long as you TAKE THE TIME TO BE WITH THE LORD , YOUR SPIRIT WILL GROW EACH DAY,  and you will start feeling and everyone will start seeing such  a huge difference in you because your Living for the Lord now and that makes each day worth living. Each day is a Gift, so don’t waste another day, take it and rejoice in it, no matter what your going thru, Rejoice!!!!! Sing the Praises of the Lord!!!!  Be Grateful every day for what the Lord has given you and you will find out real soon how Happy your Inner Heart will become. God Bless!!!!!!!!

This superb aromatic essential oil blend contributes actively to your quest for serenity and relaxation. Thanks to their relaxing olfactive properties, the selected aromatic extracts facilitate a good mental balance and help to manage the daily pressure in case of tension, of temporary stress.The delicate fragrance of cedarwood Atlas and the lemony aromatic accents give real olfactive pleasure. – See more at: http://www.puzhen.com/zen-essential-oil.html/#sthash.G868Kt0Z.dpuf
This superb aromatic essential oil blend contributes actively to your quest for serenity and relaxation. Thanks to their relaxing olfactive properties, the selected aromatic extracts facilitate a good mental balance and help to manage the daily pressure in case of tension, of temporary stress.The delicate fragrance of cedarwood Atlas and the lemony aromatic accents give real olfactive pleasure. – See more at: http://www.puzhen.com/zen-essential-oil.html/#sthash.G868Kt0Z.dpuf

Constantly Tired? Here Are 10 Herbs to Increase Energy, Vitality, and Adaptability

How difficult is it for us to achieve a work-life balance? How much more difficult is it to achieve a life-energy balance?

And does it not seem that there are never enough hours in the day to achieve any balance at all?

You’re not alone. Your days may seem that way, but in truth the balance is always there, always available and always achievable.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t difficult, but a few ancient herbal formulas will certainly help you achieve the balance you never thought possible.

Skip your daily sugar boost, coffee or red bull because in the long-term they will always let you down.

Adaptogenic herbs will give you sustained energy and vitality while allowing your mind to think freely, calmly and without excessive stimulation.

Adaptogenic herbs demonstrate a nonspecific enhancement of the body’s ability to resist a stressor. Modern herbalists say adaptogenic herbs are plants with properties that exert a normalizing influence on the body, neither habit-forming, over-stimulating nor inhibiting normal body function, but rather exerting a generalized tonifying effect. They increase your resistance overall against physical, chemical and biological stressors.

Herbal formulas found in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic medicine restore a healthy stress response typically using traditionally prepared as formulas. However, each herb can be taken on its own in the appropriate dosage depending on your specific requirements. For the exact dosages, please consult with a master herbalist or natural health practitioner well-versed in herbal formulas to increase energy and vitality. Here the ten best adaptogenic herbs:

1. RHODIOLA

Rhodiola rosea (Golden Root, Roseroot, Aaron’s Rod) is effective for improving mood and alleviating depression. Its effects are potentially mediated by changes in serotonin and dopamine levels.

Used for centuries in Asia and Scandinavia, Rhodiola is still relatively new to the Western market, but its popularity is growing, in large part because of what an incredibly versatile — and relatively inexpensive.

2. MACA

Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is an annual plant native to the high Andes of Peru and Bolivia. It has been harvested and used by humans in the Andean Mountains for centuries.

Darker colored maca roots (red, purple, black) contain significant amounts of natural iodine, a 10-gram serving of dried maca generally containing 52 micrograms of iodine.

It is highly beneficial for reducing fatigue, enhancing energy and endurance, as well as being a superlatively effective adaptagen for everyday living. Maca contains 55 phytochemicals that are known to have vitality-enhancing effects in the body, in addition to being incredibly mineral dense and nutritious.

Maca has the ability to heighten libido and improve semen quality. Its favorable effects on mood, may decrease anxiety and improve sexual desire. The effects of Maca are due to the root’s unique nutritional profile, which provides optimum levels of nutrients utilized by the body’s endocrine system. It may even alleviate medication-induced sexual dysfunction caused by pharmaceutical antidepressants.

3. ASHWAGANDHA

Ashwangandha (Withania somnifera) is one of the premier restorative herbs in Ayurvedic medicine. It is known to help stabilize mood and support optimal physical and emotional well-being. It is also known to improve memory and focus and endurance. It is believed to reduce the effects of stress on the body. The berries and leaves of ashwangandha are locally applied to tumors, tubercular glands, carbuncles, and ulcers.

4. SCHIZANDRA

Schizandra (Schisandra chinensis) is a deciduous woody vine native to forests of Northern China and the Russian Far East. Its berries are used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs. They are most often used in dried form, and boiled to make a tea. Medicinally it is used as a tonic and restorative adaptogen with notable clinically documented liver protecting effects. It supports the immune system, relieves anxiety, increases energy, and it can improve mental clarity. It’s sometimes called the “five flavors berry,” because it tastes sour, bitter, sweet, salty and acrid all at once.

5. CORDYCEPS

Considered the “ginseng of mushrooms”, Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis) are known to have a truly awesome effect on endurance and stamina. Research has shown that Cordyceps are highly effective in treating respiratory ailments, enhancing aerobic performance, increasing sex drive, strengthening the immune system, as well as having anti-stress properties. Researchers have also noted that a polysaccharide isolated from Cordyceps has a hypoglycemic effect and may be beneficial for people with insulin resistance.

6. PANAX GINSENG (ASIAN GINSENG)

Panax ginseng roots are taken orally as adaptogens, aphrodisiacs, nourishing stimulants. It is perhaps one of the most studied medicinal herbs in the world — and might be one of the most widely used. It is a proven anti-inflammatory, can regulate blood sugar and can even inhibit some characteristics associated with cancer.

It’s used most commonly to promote a sense of well-being and endurance, as an anti-depressant, for memory and calmness, for energy (it’s one of the ingredients in most energy drinks).

7. HOLY BASIL

Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) has been found in many studies to be equivalent to many modern painkillers. It is also know to protect from radiation poisoning. Within the tradition of Ayurvedic medicine, it is used to alleviate stress, headaches, colds, digestive problems and inflammation. Recent studies have also shown that it’s also a powerful antioxidant and may even be able to reduce blood glucose levels and cholesterol.

8. ASTRAGALUS

Astragalus has a history of use as a herbal medicine and is used in traditional Chinese medicine. Either alone or in combination with other herbs, has potential benefits for the immune system, heart, and liver, and as an adjunctive therapy for cancer.

Found to help restore compromised immune response due to excessive stress and toxicity from the environment. Cited as being extra beneficial for those with chronic immune deficiencies, it is recommended above Echinacea for its ability to provide deeper assistance to those who’ve consumed large quantities of antibiotics and have become susceptible to infections. Astragalus is consumed through capsules, tinctures, or in a tea. For best results, it is used for several weeks to several months at a time.

9. HE SHOU WU

He Shou Wu (Fallopia multiflora) is also known as polygonum multiflorum, and is predominantly referred to as such in Pubmed. It is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine as a tonic to slow down the aging process. It is a restorative herb, calming to the nervous system, and has also been shown to promote hair growth, alleviate insomnia, and may aid with learning and memory.

10. REISHI MUSHROOM

Traditional Chinese medicine uses reishi to “calm the spirit.” Reishi,
(literally “supernatural” mushrooms) have been used for more than 2,000 years, making them perhaps the oldest mushroom to be used medicinally. They can be helpful to reduce anxiety, alleviate insomnia, combat fatigue, and lower blood pressure.

In today’s modern age, with unparalleled stress and toxicity, it is more important than ever to fortify and protect one’s body from potential harm. While diet, exercise, and rest are key components in maintaining excellent health, the use of vitality enhancing herbs is indispensable. Their ability to increase energy, immune response, mental clarity, libido, and over-all homeostasis of the body make them a truly worthwhile investment of time and money. They are safe and easy to use, without side-effects and contraindications like pharmaceutical drugs. In light of their value, they are an obvious choice for anyone wanting to go a step beyond go health and on to higher vitality.

This article was written by John Summerly, and appeared in Prevent Disease on April 26, 2012.

John Summerly is nutritionist, herbologist, and homeopathic practitioner. He is a leader in the natural health community and consults athletes, executives and most of all parents of children on the benefits of complementary therapies for health and prevention.

Calm Your Mind & Relieve Stress

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Stress has silent, but incredibly harmful, impacts on our health, happiness and our beauty. It weakens our immune system, can lead to weight gain and causes premature hair graying. Calming our mind, relieving stress and banishing depression is the first step to happiness, healthiness and beauty and here are some ways to do just that.
1. One of the simplest natural ways to reduce stress is by taking Ginseng.
Ginseng provides additional support to the adrenal glands and helps to create more hormones that help to reduce stress.
2. A study that appeared in a Korean medical journey in the Spring of 2004 found that applying a few drops of peppermint oil to the forehead and temples reduced physical and perceived symptoms of stress and anxiety.
3. Passionflower is one of the most effective herbs for relieving stress according to a 1985 study. Taken as a juice, as an infusion,
in capsules or as a tincture passionflower has been found to be equally as effective as oxazepan (a standard drug for anxiety and stress).
4. Other natural herbs that can be used to eliminate stress include: St John’s Wort, lavender, valerian and licorice root.
5. Aside from herbal remedies, meditation is another way that relaxes the mind and body. It doesn’t need to involve complicated mantras; it can simply be as simple as sitting quietly by yourself and breathing in a slow, controlled fashion. Visualize breathing in
white light and exhaling black smoke. 5-15 minutes of meditation per day can have a profound impact on stress.
6. Progressive muscle relaxation is a popular relaxation technique that was created by Edmund Jacobson in the late 1930s. Because your muscles become tense and tight throughout the day, this technique teaches you how to slowly relax every muscle in your body to reduce tension and anxiety. To begin progressive muscle relaxation lay down somewhere quiet and comfortable.
Breathe slowly then tense and relax each part of your body from bottom to top one at a time. For example, start with your toes, then your feet and calves, moving up to your thighs, buttocks and so on.
7. Acupressure is another natural stress relief method. Acupressure uses many principals from traditional Chinese medicine that can be implemented by anyone at home. The same acupoints used in acupuncture can be used in this
technique, which requires pressure instead of needles to get the desired effect. A common acupressure point to relief stress, for example, is found on the largest crease on the inner wrist, in line with the little finger. Acupoint 15 is found on the middle finger just above the nail on the side closest to the thumb. To use an acupoint simply press on the spot with your finger for about a minute.
8. Enjoying a long, hot bath is another great way to achieve total relaxation and calm. Hot water has the ability to soothe tight muscles and joints, as well as reduce stress and tension in the body. You may also find a hot bath can help you sleep better at night. To make a bath even more enjoyable try some calming music, soft lighting and add some lavender oil.

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9. If you are feeling depressed with no obvious explanation then you may be deficient in vitamin D. Try to get more vitamin D into your diet from foods like fish, eggs, dairy products, animal meat and fortified cereals. Plus, get more time in the sun as sun rays are one of the most important sources of the vitamin.
10. Tryptophan is an amino acid necessary to produce the neurotransmitter serotonin. Studies show links between depression and low levels of tryptophan, especially in women; and it was shown to be better than placebo for treating depression in two small studies. L-tryptophan and 5-HTP are both tryptophan supplements, simply being different stages in the production of serotonin. There are, however, some concerns about the purity of L-tryptophan supplements, some of which have been found to contain contaminants and impurities. CAUTION: 5-HTP should not be taken with St. John’s Wort or SAMe.
11. Foods are one of the best ways to improve mood, and these mood enhancing foods are the most effective for feeling a million dollars.  Turkey is high in phenylalanine which the brain converts into dopamine which has been found to elevate mood and increase motivation. Coffee boosts metabolism and energy levels while also activating the brains pleasure centers making it an  effective mood enhancer. Milk contains tryptophan which makes serotonin – often referred to as the brain’s Prozac.· Kale contains high levels of folate. Low levels have been linked to depression so upping your folate levels will help to keep negative moods at bay.  Foods that taste good trigger the production of endorphin’s so eat foods you enjoy to enhance your mood.
12. Drop a few drops of rose, clary sage and ylang ylang essential oils into your bath in the evening for a mood enhancing, uplifting blend.

Finding Your Emotional Balance!!!!!!!!

We all seek emotional balance, but what exactly does that mean?

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There’s no 98.6° of the mind, no 130 over 85 for mood pressure. And, although the popularity of drugs like Prozac and Zoloft might lead us to believe that brain neurotransmitters can be mixed like a smart martini (one jigger of serotonin, two of dopamine…), so far no one has come up with a cocktail for happiness. Most of us know, however, what it feels like to be emotionally out of whack. Patience rubbed bald, making the slightest irritation unbearable. No energy to care about anyone else’s difficulties. A shuttered outlook, leaving you increasingly closed to both pleasure and possibility.
It doesn’t take decoding the genome to prove that when you’re feeling good about yourself, your body stays in better shape and your general condition is more resilient. “The people who age best are those who have positive things happening in their lives and positive feelings,” says Norman Rosenthal, MD, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine and the author of The Emotional Revolution, which details the latest science of emotions and argues that they profoundly affect your health and survival.Forty to 55 percent of a happy disposition is genetic, studies suggest, but the rest can be learned. It may be helpful to think of emotional balance as mastering a surfboard—honing the ability to take life’s gnarliest waves without wiping out, while catching the good ones and riding them all the way to shore, enjoying every last splash. What it takes to stay on the board will vary for each of us. Outwardly, life delivers different ups and downs; inwardly, there are many styles of maintaining equilibrium.

To dive in, experts suggest first giving yourself an emotional checkup, then practicing a few basic mood-stabilizing techniques, and finally determining, if appropriate, when it’s time to get help. “Some days are tougher than others,” says surgeon Nancy Snyderman, MD, the author of Dr. Nancy Snyderman’s Guide to Good Health, “but if you generally love waking up in the morning, you’re in a good spot. If you’re not, challenge what’s amiss and see how you can fix it.”

Step 1: Emotional Checkup

Sit down with a calendar and ask yourself how you’ve been feeling over the past couple of weeks—depressed, anxious, joyful, angry? Do you seem uncharacteristically blue and lethargic? If yes, can you see a good reason for it? The questions may seem obvious, but if you don’t ask them, Rosenthal says, “it’s easy to shove the problem out of your mind.”

Next check your expectations. The big mistake people make is confusing emotional balance with happiness, says Alice Domar, PhD, director of the Mind/Body Center for Women’s Health at Boston IVF and the author of Self-Nurture. “The huge number of people on Prozac in this country includes many, I think, who were experiencing life’s ups and downs normally but had an expectation of constant happiness,” she says. “A normal life means feeling pretty satisfied with the way things are, having some moments of joy and some moments of sadness and anxiety.”

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Step 2: The Keys to BalanceNo matter where you are on your emotional surfboard (even if you’re off it), these mood-steadying strategies make for easier riding.

1. Mind Rx: Taking a break—imaginary or real—can help settle emotions on a bumpy day.

2. Daydream: “When you think about pleasurable things like sex or food, PET scans show different patterns lighting up in your brain than when you think about work or something unpleasant,” says Mehmet Oz, MD, director of the Cardiovascular Institute at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center.

3. Fake it: Research shows that when you put on a smile, even a forced one, your mood often follows. Hold your head high, walk confidently, pretend you’re Serena Williams after winning the Grand Slam.

4. Listen to music: Put on a pair of headphones and let yourself get carried away.

5. Go to a bookstore and just browse. “Look at travel books, photography books,” suggests Byllye Avery, founder of the National Black Women’s Health Project. “Dip into some fiction and let your mind go there.”

6. Run away: Spas are ideal, Snyderman says (when she books herself for a quick getaway, she tells her kids to “call only in an emergency—and homework doesn’t count”). But you can also escape to a friend’s house for the weekend, get in the car and just drive, or take a day to be a tourist in your own town.


Step 3: Do You Need Help?Depression and anxiety, which often occur together, may be pulling you off-kilter, and subtle symptoms can creep up on you without your realizing it.

With mild depression, you might get your work done and perform all your other duties but have trouble mustering enthusiasm for any of it. Getting ready to go to a party often requires a gargantuan effort (although if you can manage that hurdle, you’re capable of having a good time). And when little things go wrong—a train is late, a friend cancels—you can be totally knocked off course.

With mild anxiety, you worry about things that most people don’t: If there are rumors of a management change at the office, you’ll stay up all night thinking about it while everyone else waits for more information before getting worked up. You wish, perhaps, that you were more easygoing—sometimes your fears keep you from trying things.

In both cases, the experts recommend the following:

1. Meditation: A proven treatment for anxiety, and, to a lesser extent, depression, “it lowers blood pressure and heart rate and counteracts the secretion of stress hormones like cortisol,” Oz says. “We use it in the hospital for anxious heart surgery patients and for post-op depression.”

2. Yoga: The mental focus, breathing, and limbering postures combined into one activity work like a multivitamin for inner stability.

3. Reorganization: Look at your daily schedule and sort out what gives you pleasure and what stresses you out. Then think of every way possible to remove the latter from your life.

4. Saint-John’s-Wort: Although a large study funded by the National Institutes of Health recently suggested that this herb has no effect on severely depressed people, more than 20 studies, mostly in Europe, show that the herb helps alleviate mild depression. Christopher Hobbs, a clinical herbalist and consultant to the herb industry who has written 22 books, including Herbal Remedies for Dummies, says the optimal dosage is 300 milligrams three times a day (of a formula with 0.3 percent hypericin), although a small person might try twice a day. He also says it may take four to six weeks to notice any effects. Caution: If you’re on any medication, consult your doctor before trying Saint-John’s-Wort, because it has been shown to interfere with a number of drugs, including some types of chemotherapy and possibly birth control pills.

If none of these strategies make you feel better after six weeks, you may want to consult a mental health professional. Certainly, if you’re having trouble functioning—work is suffering, nothing excites you, you’ve stopped seeing friends, your mind is racing, you can’t even get out of bed—you should go straight for help.

 

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Everything You Wanted to Know about Stress!!!!

Stress Symptoms, Signs and Causes

The Effects of Stress Overload and What You Can Do About It

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Modern life is full of hassles, deadlines, frustrations, and demands. For many people, stress is so commonplace that it has become a way of life. Stress isn’t always bad. In small doses, it can help you perform under pressure and motivate you to do your best. But when you’re constantly running in emergency mode, your mind and body pay the price. You can protect yourself by recognizing the signs and symptoms of stress and taking steps to reduce its harmful effects.

What is stress?

The Body’s Stress Response

The Body’s Stress ResponseWhen you perceive a threat, your nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones rouse the body for emergency action.

Your heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and your senses become sharper. These physical changes increase your strength and stamina, speed your reaction time, and enhance your focus—preparing you to either fight or flee from the danger at hand.

Stress is a normal physical response to events that make you feel threatened or upset your balance in some way. When you sense danger—whether it’s real or imagined—the body’s defenses kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction, or the stress response.

The stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, it helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save your life—giving you extra strength to defend yourself, for example, or spurring you to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident.

The stress response also helps you rise to meet challenges. Stress is what keeps you on your toes during a presentation at work, sharpens your concentration when you’re attempting the game-winning free throw, or drives you to study for an exam when you’d rather be watching TV.

But beyond a certain point, stress stops being helpful and starts causing major damage to your health, your mood, your productivity, your relationships, and your quality of life.

How do you respond to stress?

It’s important to learn how to recognize when your stress levels are out of control. The most dangerous thing about stress is how easily it can creep up on you. You get used to it. It starts to feels familiar even normal. You don’t notice how much it’s affecting you, even as it takes a heavy toll.
The signs and symptoms of stress overload can be almost anything. Stress affects the mind, body, and behavior in many ways, and everyone experiences stress differently.

Stress doesn’t always look stressful

Psychologist Connie Lillas uses a driving analogy to describe the three most common ways people respond when they’re overwhelmed by stress:

  • Foot on the gas – An angry or agitated stress response. You’re heated, keyed up, overly emotional, and unable to sit still.
  • Foot on the brake – A withdrawn or depressed stress response. You shut down, space out, and show very little energy or emotion.
  • Foot on both – A tense and frozen stress response. You “freeze” under pressure and can’t do anything. You look paralyzed, but under the surface you’re extremely agitated.

Signs and symptoms of stress overload

The following table lists some of the common warning signs and symptoms of stress. The more signs and symptoms you notice in yourself, the closer you may be to stress overload.

Stress Warning Signs and Symptoms
Cognitive Symptoms Emotional Symptoms
  • Memory problems
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Poor judgment
  • Seeing only the negative
  • Anxious or racing thoughts
  • Constant worrying
  • Moodiness
  • Irritability or short temper
  • Agitation, inability to relax
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Sense of loneliness and isolation
  • Depression or general unhappiness
Physical Symptoms Behavioral Symptoms
  • Aches and pains
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea, dizziness
  • Chest pain, rapid heartbeat
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Frequent colds
  • Eating more or less
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Isolating yourself from others
  • Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
  • Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
  • Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)

Keep in mind that the signs and symptoms of stress can also be caused by other psychological and medical problems. If you’re experiencing any of the warning signs of stress, it’s important to see a doctor for a full evaluation. Your doctor can help you determine whether or not your symptoms are stress-related.

How much stress is too much?

Because of the widespread damage stress can cause, it’s important to know your own limit. But just how much stress is “too much” differs from person to person. Some people roll with the punches, while others crumble at the slightest obstacle or frustration. Some people even seem to thrive on the excitement and challenge of a high-stress lifestyle.

Your ability to tolerate stress depends on many factors, including the quality of your relationships, your general outlook on life, your emotional intelligence, and genetics.

Things that influence your stress tolerance level

  • Your support network – A strong network of supportive friends and family members is an enormous buffer against life’s stressors. On the flip side, the more lonely and isolated you are, the greater your vulnerability to stress.
  • Your sense of control – If you have confidence in yourself and your ability to influence events and persevere through challenges, it’s easier to take stress in stride. People who are vulnerable to stress tend to feel like things are out of their control.
  • Your attitude and outlook – Stress-hardy people have an optimistic attitude. They tend to embrace challenges, have a strong sense of humor, accept that change is a part of life, and believe in a higher power or purpose.
  • Your ability to deal with your emotions – You’re extremely vulnerable to stress if you don’t know how to calm and soothe yourself when you’re feeling sad, angry, or afraid. The ability to bring your emotions into balance helps you bounce back from adversity.
  • Your knowledge and preparation – The more you know about a stressful situation, including how long it will last and what to expect, the easier it is to cope. For example, if you go into surgery with a realistic picture of what to expect post-op, a painful recovery will be less traumatic than if you were expecting to bounce back immediately.

Am I in control of stress, or is stress controlling me?

  • When I feel agitated, do I know how to quickly calm and soothe myself?
  • Can I easily let go of my anger?
  • Can I turn to others at work to help me calm down and feel better?
  • When I come home at night, do I walk in the door feeling alert and relaxed?
  • Am I seldom distracted or moody?
  • Am I able to recognize upsets that others seem to be experiencing?
  • Do I easily turn to friends or family members for a calming influence?
  • When my energy is low, do I know how to boost it?

Causes of stress

The situations and pressures that cause stress are known as stressors. We usually think of stressors as being negative, such as an exhausting work schedule or a rocky relationship. However, anything that puts high demands on you or forces you to adjust can be stressful. This includes positive events such as getting married, buying a house, going to college, or receiving a promotion.

What causes stress depends, at least in part, on your perception of it. Something that’s stressful to you may not faze someone else; they may even enjoy it. For example, your morning commute may make you anxious and tense because you worry that traffic will make you late. Others, however, may find the trip relaxing because they allow more than enough time and enjoy listening to music while they drive.

Common external causes of stress

  • Major life changes
  • Work
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Financial problems
  • Being too busy
  • Children and family

Common internal causes of stress

Not all stress is caused by external factors. Stress can also be self-generated:

  • Inability to accept uncertainty
  • Pessimism
  • Negative self-talk
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Perfectionism
  • Lack of assertiveness

What’s stressful for you?

What’s stressful for you may be quite different from what’s stressful to someone else. For example:

  • Karen is terrified of getting up in front of people to perform or speak, while her best friend lives for the spotlight.
  • Phil thrives under pressure and performs best when he has a tight deadline, while his co-worker, Matt, shuts down when work demands escalate.
  • Anita enjoys helping her elderly parents. Her sister, Constance, helps out as well but finds the demands of caretaking very stressful.
  • Richard doesn’t hesitate to send food back or complain about bad service when eating out, while his wife, Miranda, finds it much too stressful to complain.

Effects of chronic stress

The body doesn’t distinguish between physical and psychological threats. When you’re stressed over a busy schedule, an argument with a friend, a traffic jam, or a mountain of bills, your body reacts just as strongly as if you were facing a life-or-death situation. If you have a lot of responsibilities and worries, your emergency stress response may be “on” most of the time. The more your body’s stress system is activated, the harder it is to shut off.

Long-term exposure to stress can lead to serious health problems. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. It can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility, and speed up the aging process. Long-term stress can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.

Many health problems are caused or exacerbated by stress, including:

  • Pain of any kind
  • Heart disease
  • Digestive problems
  • Sleep problems
  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Skin conditions, such as eczema

Dealing with stress and its symptoms

While unchecked stress is undeniably damaging, there are many things you can do to reduce its impact and cope with symptoms.

Learn how to manage stress

You may feel like the stress in your life is out of your control, but you can always control the way you respond. Managing stress is all about taking charge: taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems. Stress management involves changing the stressful situation when you can, changing your reaction when you can’t, taking care of yourself, and making time for rest and relaxation.

Learn how to relax

You can’t completely eliminate stress from your life, but you can control how much it affects you. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the opposite of the stress response. When practiced regularly, these activities lead to a reduction in your everyday stress levels and a boost in your feelings of joy and serenity. They also increase your ability to stay calm and collected under pressure.