Monday, August 20, 2007

65% of deaths are preventable!

A 1993 study by McGinnis and William Foege, M.D., published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), estimated that the most prominent contributors to mortality in the U.S. were, in order, tobacco, diet and activity patterns, alcohol, microbial agents, toxic agents, firearms, sexual behavior, motor vehicles and illicit drug use. The work presented in the 1993 article addressed these issues for Americans in all age groups, and was confined to mortality. Although the researchers noted the importance of socioeconomic factors such as poverty, access to medical care, and educational level, they restricted their analyses to those items for which there was a clear biological mechanism.

As they say, moderation is the key to a balanced and healthy life and will help add quality years to it also. Men live shorter than women because they tend to abuse smoking, drinking, and sedentary lifestyle more than women do. Some just shrug it off and say if they are going to die, then what I'm doing is just the way I want to go out. However, when that heart attack or diagnosis with the big "C" comes in, you can bet there attention is refocused on the here and now with many regrets for past sins.

So, if we know we abuse substances and it will lead to early death, then why don't we change and develop healthy lifestyles? One reason is that it takes effort,pain, and discipline vs. the eat, sleep, and watch TV syndrome. If I am OK now, and nothing is broken, then why fix it? It is the ability to understand delayed gratification that is at work. When you are exercising,eating right, and leading a stress free lifestyle, you feel good physically and mentally about yourself. You know it is helping your system work better and longer. But, the initial work and diligence to get into this lifestyle pattern takes commitment and hard work. Exactly what the average Joe wants to avoid at all costs.Until the heart stops.

Let's rethink our current situation and commit to a "stress less lifestyle", devoted to proper exercise, diet and nutrition, spiritual connection, and mental control for meditation and relaxation. Your grand kids will appreciate your for it.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

47% not satisfied with work!

A recent poll found that one half of all workers are not happy at their chosen field of work. This is disturbing news and underscores how work can be considered the number one stressor in people's lives. If you loved your work, you still are going to have stressful situations with people, deadlines, clients, etc. But, to go to work each day dreading the time you spend, it is no wonder it becomes even more stressful that it has to be.
You lack motivation, excitement for your tasks and co-workers, and are constantly thinking about how to move on to something better or the 'grass is greener' syndrome. Some people are never happy, but when you have one half of the working population saying they are not happy, then you have a lot of negative thinking going on which has to affect productivity.
So, how do we correct this societal problem? Part of the challenge is in the backgrounds of the workers. About 27% of people 25+years old hold a college degree or better. This means that nearly 75% of the working population have a high school diploma or less. This automatically categorizes most jobs into lower paying, low skilled labor positions which reduces the amount of control and creativity that can be used in the workforce.
Increasing education levels is one answer to the problem, but this is a slow build solution. On the job training and advanced educational opportunities is another on-going solution. Off shore manufacturing is taking away a lot of jobs and people are being forced to learn new skill sets or risk extinction. So, whether we like it or not, the labor force is going to have to advance educationally in order to survive in the rapid changes of our economy moving from manufacturing to service and higher levels of thought processing involved in the work. As this moves in this direction, people will hopefully start to connect their hearts with their brains and find work that likes them and they love going to each day. This is one way to start to reduce workplace stress.
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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

"Miner" Stress

The recent Utah miner entrapment is a good example of 'Acute Stress' among four different groups-miners, owners,rescuers, and miner families. Since everyone reacts to stress in their own ways, there are probably many coping techniques being used by the different groups.
The miners, assuming they are alive, are battling for food, water, air, and basic survival.
The owners are battling the unions,media,seismologists,and basic business survival.
The families are battling uncertainty, fear of the unknown, and possible loss of a loved one.
The rescuers are battling the elements, time, and potential loss of life.
All can benefit from the basic stress management tools available. The first and foremost is using common sense and facts vs. emotion to evaluate the situation. Right now, there is no indication the miners are dead or alive, so assume they are alive and need rescuing. Projecting death or the worst case scenario only will bring up unwanted emotions and resignation. Getting out to exercise or walk around will be most beneficial to all, even the miners, assuming they can move around where they are. Praying and meditating and tuning out the media speculation will help calm the mind and emotions. Bonding and social interaction is one of the most important elements in the crises among family members, friends, co-workers, etc. Positive thinking will keep spirits alive and hope as a basic foundation for every one's effort. Watching what you eat and not filling up on caffeine will help to keep the tensions down and people flowing smoothly so they can work together and get their minds working for maximum concentration and effort.
So, even though there are different points of view from the four groups, they all can benefit during the crises by employing the same stress management strategies to help cope, not only during the acute phase, but just as important, afterwards. This is why stress management training is so important as an ongoing tool of coping mechanisms to use constantly for day-to-day functioning, but also in times of acute crises like the mine collapse.
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Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Life is Tough-Relax!

We all learn how tough life can be with it's strange twists and turns and sometimes brick walls. It has a tendency to get your cortisol levels sky high. The adrenal glands, located on your kidneys, secret cortisol, called the "stress" hormone. It is involved in releasing glucose for proper blood sugar levels;immune function/inflammatory response; and regulation of glucose metabolism/blood sugar levels.
Cortisol is secreted at higher levels during stressful times or when you are in the "flight or fight response" mode. Higher and chronic levels in your blood help contribute to Impaired cognition; suppressed thyroid; blood sugar fluctuations like hyperglycemia; lower bone density; muscle tissue loss; increased blood pressure; reduced immunity and inflammatory responses; and a surge in abdominal fat, which is associated with a greater amount of health problems than fat deposited in other areas of the body.
One of the basic tenets of stress management is know how to invoke the "relaxation response" in your body so your system can reduce the cortisol and return to normal. A low stress lifestyle or using some of the following techniques can help you cope:Meditation, breathing exercises;yoga;guided imagery; exercise;self hypnosis;sex;journaling; and music.
Start to increase your stress management skills today and come visit us at

Thursday, August 2, 2007

It's the little things!

There is "acute" stress, which occurs for a high intensity short term period like a car accident and "chronic" stress, which lasts a longer period and does not seem to go away as a result of things like financial difficulties or marriage issues.
It's the "cumulative" stress that builds up daily over time that occurs on a steady basis which can do you in. It becomes cumulative and destructive. Your mind becomes numb and the ill effects of the stress hormones increasingly circulate in your system eating away at your blood vessels and organs.
So, how do you prevent or resolve these daily irritants? The same way you approach all your stress management issues, with steady resolve to challenge your negative, cognitive thoughts and replace them with healthy, positive thoughts. Make sure you are eating and behaving healthy, and you learn to relax your mind and your body. Even if you haven't incorporated these strategies into your stress management tool box, start today. They will not only help alleviate the daily stress, they will help to rein in the hormones and destructive, psycho-physiological damage being done by the cumulative stress.
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