January 24, 2017

Stress Reduction to Prevent Disease – Part 1

By David Kekich

Stress drains you from the inside, robbing your energy and vitality. Stress leads to fatigue and will silently sabotage even the strongest motivation. Do everything right— everything—and chronic stress can crash it all down!

Even a few minutes of focused stress reduction every day is a powerful way to prevent disease and accelerate your regeneration.

I’m going to show you how to not only reduce your chronic stress, but also how to avoid most of it.

Chronic Stress Accelerates Aging and Makes You Sick

Just like exercise, emotion signals your cells to grow strong or weak. The same molecular pathways go to work for you or against you. Stress, hostility and loneliness starve your cells and put them in danger. However, optimism and love trigger growth. Like deciding to exercise, you can pretty much master your emotions. It’s a choice.

Consider this: people who feel more stressed have telomeres that are almost 50% shorter than those of people who say they are less stressed. This equates to a whopping 9-17 year difference in biological age!

How much stress do you experience during the average day? Chronic stress kills, you know. It kills by:

  • Weakening your immune system
  • Disrupting your digestive system
  • Causing heart disease, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer’s and more

In fact, 80% of all doctor visits in the U.S. are related to stress-induced conditions, and 90% of all diseases are caused or complicated by stress. In addition to the above, these stress-indued conditions include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney damage
  • Ulcers
  • Food allergies
  • Diabetes
  • And obesity

Cortisol, the main stress hormone, even causes your lean muscle to break down while increasing the storage of fat. Want to be a lean energy machine? Then learn to relax. Stress can affect every one of the trillions of cells in your body. In essence, chronic stress accelerates aging and makes you sick. Why do everything else right, only to lose it all to stress?

How to Monitor Your Stress

I have concluded there is one overriding cause of stress. In fact, it may be the only cause. In one word, it’s “reaction.”

Reaction to workplace pressures is the most common source of stress. Gallup reports 80% of employees suffer from stress. And stressed-out employees suffer from two to three times as much work injury as their non-stressed counterparts.

Most stress is caused by changes in your life and the sense of being out of control. Being out of control is usually caused by being in this reactionary mode, letting external events or other people control your actions, rather than your actions determining the external events in your life. Most of us feel stressed much of the time due to these two factors.

Some ways around this are to monitor your stress.

  • List all your daily events. Then decide which ones are truly important to you and which aren’t. Then act on those that are important.
  • Do you tend to react to things that seem urgent at the expense of ignoring or procrastinating on those that are important?
  • Your key is purposeful action and avoiding procrastination. When you procrastinate, your events control you.

You probably know what thoughts and actions advance you forward in life. I trust you know what specific action or actions energize you and are most productive for you.

  • What are you best at?
  • What do you enjoy doing?
  • Know these answers.

Focus on those related activities, and you will cut 90% of the stress out of your life. In other words, get “proactive.” Take control of your life one day at a time.
Is that how you manage most of your average day? Probably not. If you do, congratulations! But if you’re like me, you’re constantly faced with interruptions and distractions: phone calls, emails, family emergencies, arguments, mail, traffic jams, unexpected guests, financial problems, tax issues, bill paying, other peoples’ agendas, etc, etc, etc.

Chronic stress is often these continual minor stressors over an extended period of time. The cumulative effect slowly erodes your body over time at your cellular level if you don’t make a conscious effort to let your body recover.

2 Habits for Happiness

So how do you keep this insidious killer from robbing you of your health, happiness and prosperity?

It’s actually very simple. Plan your days in advance.

  • Fill your schedule with positive uplifting actions that move you toward your goals.
  • Go back a few weeks in your calendar, and list all your counterproductive reactionary items.
  • Do the same moving forward for the next two weeks.
  • Every time you react to something, and every time you feel stress, write it down.
  • Write down what you hate doing, as well.
  • Then group these items and hand them off. Delegate them. Outsource them. Or just ignore the ones that won’t damage you if they don’t get done.

Second, work in peace, quiet and privacy.

  • Shut distractions out during designated chunks of your work day.
  • Turn off your phone and email during these periods.
  • Close your door, and leave specific instructions to not bother you except in extreme emergencies such as a medical crisis or anything else that is absolutely life, family or business threatening.
  • Start in small steps and work your way up until you completely control most of your work day.

Once you master these habits, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do so years ago. Your business and personal life will prosper like never before. And you’ll live longer.

(By the way, I was interrupted twice while writing this section, because I am not behind a closed door. Being distracted and then trying to refocus doubled the time it should have taken me to write this. I’m writing this book to myself as much as to you. So I need to keep reminding myself, over and over. The rewards far outweigh the effort.)

Even productive living creates stressful situations. As long as you’re in action, you will always have some stress in your life. Self-imposed deadlines, major changes in your life and others can create stress.

How to Make Stress Reduction a Priority

We simply don’t grow without stress. Some stress is good for you. It evolved as a survival mechanism. Without it, we don’t adapt and become strong. It gives you a rush of adrenalin when you’re faced with a sudden life-threatening situation. You react faster, often without even thinking. Your strength can suddenly double for an instant.

What kills you is not adapting to the chronic stresses of life. Now that we’re civilized (at least technologically), we seldom face life-threatening events. However, modern life puts other pressures on you. Instead of being attacked by a wild animal, escaping and then relaxing for a week, we get stressed by the multiple processes of living in a complex world. And this stress doesn’t end as fast as it occurred. Stressful situations may stay with us for days, weeks and even years. Or they may pop up one after another. They can make us feel as helpless as babies. Sometimes they spin our lives out of control. They all cause our stress system to activate. The system designed to help us in an emergency becomes dangerous to our health if it runs all the time.

Physical and emotional stress causes the release of cortisol and catecholamines (adrenaline and nor-adrenaline), hormones that keep the body performing under high stress situations. As I mentioned, these hormones are good in short bursts, such as in emergency situations, but damaging after long periods of exposure.

Catecholamines are also known as the “fight or flight” hormones, because they “rev up” your system (increase blood pressure and heart rate) in response to stress. Cortisol suppresses normal inflammatory responses and immune functions to allow you to continue to perform in an emergency. Long-term exposure to cortisol and catecholamines, however, is linked to a whole host of physiological problems, including:
  • Memory loss
  • Immune system inhibition
  • Endocrine system disruption
  • Increased free radical production
  • Chronic increased blood pressure
  • Chronic increased heart rate

This chronic stress is what kills us instead of saving us. So we need to make stress reduction and relaxation a priority in our lives if our plans are peace, health and longevity. The good news is it’s not hard to do.

All you need to do is stop and get off the horse once in a while. Relaxation is not only fun and easy, but it will extend your life and help keep you from getting sick.

Focus and intentional practice are much more effective than passive relaxation. You might practice:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Prayer
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Creative visualization
  • Listening to soothing sounds such as nature sounds or relaxing music
  • Soaking in a tub
  • Biofeedback
  • Tai chi

There are many other stress busters out there. The more stress management tools you learn and use regularly, the happier and healthier you’ll be. Stress management can measurably reverse much of the stress-induced damage very quickly. You can even restore over-taxed immune systems in ninety days or less. Best of all, your benefits accumulate. The longer you practice stress management techniques, the healthier you become.

You are responsible for much of the emotional stress placed on your body. If you perceive a situation as stressful, your body will react. If you can manage difficult situations without overreacting, you save your body from unnecessary chemical damage.

To read the 2nd half of this article, Stress Reduction to Prevent Disease – Part 2, click HERE. 

 

David Kekich is President/CEO of Maximum Life Foundation that focuses on aging research, a 501(c)(3) corporation dedicated to curing aging-related diseases. For more information, visit: www.MaxLife.org. David contributes to our column Living Healthy to 120: Anti-Aging Breakthroughs. MaxLife is helping to make the anti-aging dream a reality with cutting edge Bio-Engineering research and products.

Time For A Pet-A-Cure

Health Benefits that Pets Provide

Welcome, dear reader! Once again I will attempt to distract your attention away from the “white noise” of such current topics as solar flares, global warming, politics and hate crimes to something that can melt even the coldest heart — pets!

That’s right, friends! This month’s topic is “Natural Pet Health.” If you have read my previous articles, then it will not surprise you that I lean toward a variation on a theme, and this one will be no different. Instead of giving you tips on grooming or how to keep your pet healthy (I will leave that to our experts!), I want to share the many ways God’s amazing animals keep us happier and healthier.

Need for Puppy Channel

You would be hard pressed to find a single person in America unfamiliar with football, let alone The Super Bowl. Friends and family gather around the big screen for food, fun and fellowship.

Not to be outdone, Animal Planet took a gamble and launched “The Puppy Bowl,” a mock football game comprised of adorable canine “athletes” playing with a toy football tugging, rolling and peeing on a field in a “puppy” stadium. It became a smash hit!

Each year they “up the ante” and this season, kittens took to the field at halftime. They even had potbelly pigs as cheerleaders! People lit up Facebook and Tweeted with abandon as the announcer asked the question, “America, who do you think should be this years MVP (Most Valuable Puppy)?”

In a world of uncertainty, these precious creatures offer a well needed escape. With all of our technology, nothing goes “viral” quicker on YouTube than a talking dog or a “clairvoyant” cat! Around the globe, people are obsessed with animals… and for good reason! Their unconditional love and faithfulness produce health benefits for humans that are nothing short of miraculous.

Furry Friends Can Aid Your Health

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 57% of American households own at least one pet. Compared to non-pet owners, the 57% of pet owners enjoy far better health and well-being.

Karen Allen, PhD, a researcher from the University of Buffalo, conducted a controlled study of 48 stockbrokers who were all taking hypertension medication. Half (24) were given their choice of a dog or cat to take home and care for. After a couple of weeks with the pets, blood pressure and heart rates were administered to all of the participants. Those with a pet had lower heart rates and drops in their blood pressure, but the participants without pets showed no change. Once those without pets saw the results, many went out and got a pet!

A recent article from Healthstatus.com listed the following health benefits pet owners enjoy:

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Happy-Go-Lucky Types Die Younger

Cheer up. Stop wor­ry­ing. Don’t work so hard. That may be some of the worst ad­vice you could give some­one who in­tends to live a long life, a new study sug­gests.

“It’s sur­pris­ing just how of­ten com­mon as­sump­tions – by both sci­en­tists and the me­dia – are wrong,” said psy­chol­o­gist How­ard S. Fried­man of the Uni­vers­ity of Cal­i­for­nia, who led the 20-year stu­dy. He and co-re­search­ers pub­lished the find­ings in a book en­ti­tled The Longe­vity Proj­ect: Sur­pris­ing Dis­cov­er­ies for Health and Long Life from the Land­mark Eight-Decade Study (Hud­son Street Press, March 2011).

“Probably our most amaz­ing find­ing was that per­son­al­ity char­ac­ter­is­tics and so­cial rela­t­ions from child­hood can pre­dict one’s risk of dy­ing dec­ades lat­er,” Fried­man said.

The team an­a­lyzed da­ta gath­ered by the late psy­chol­o­gist Lou­is Ter­man of Stan­ford Uni­vers­ity in Cal­i­for­nia and sub­se­quent re­search­ers on more than 1,500 bright chil­dren who were about 10 years old when they were first stud­ied in 1921. The Longevity Proj­ect, as the study be­came known, fol­lowed the chil­dren through their lives, col­lect­ing in­forma­t­ion that in­clud­ed family his­to­ries and rela­t­ion­ships, teach­er and par­ent rat­ings of per­son­al­ity, hob­bies, pet own­er­ship, job suc­cess, educa­t­ion levels, military serv­ice and more.

“We came to a new un­der­stand­ing about hap­pi­ness and health,” said psy­chol­o­gist Les­lie R. Mar­tin, a study col­la­bo­ra­tor who is now at La Si­er­ra Uni­vers­ity in Riv­er­side, Ca­lif. “One of the find­ings that really as­tounds peo­ple, in­clud­ing us, is that the Longevity Proj­ect par­ti­ci­pants who were the most cheer­ful and had the best sense of hu­mor as kids lived shorter lives, on av­er­age, than those who were less cheer­ful and jok­ing. It was the most pru­dent and per­sist­ent in­di­vid­u­als who stayed health­i­est and lived the longest.”

The cheer­ful, hap­py-go-lucky kids tended to take more risks with their health across the years, Fried­man not­ed. While an op­ti­mis­tic ap­proach can be help­ful in a cri­sis, “We found that as a gen­er­al life-orienta­t­ion, too much of a sense that ‘ev­ery­thing will be just fine’ can be dan­ger­ous be­cause it can lead one to be care­less about things that are im­por­tant to health and long life. Pru­dence and per­sis­tence, how­ev­er, led to a lot of im­por­tant ben­e­fits for many years. It turns out that hap­pi­ness is not a root cause of good health. In­stead, hap­pi­ness and health go to­geth­er be­cause they have com­mon roots.”

Oth­er sur­pris­ing find­ings:

  • Mar­riage may be good for men’s health, but has lit­tle if any ef­fect on wom­en’s life­spans.
  • Be­ing di­vorced is much less harm­ful to wom­en’s health. Wom­en who di­vorced and did not re­mar­ry lived nearly as long as those who were steadily mar­ried.
  • Study sub­jects who were the most in­volved and com­mit­ted to their jobs did the best. Con­tin­u­ally pro­duc­tive men and wom­en lived much long­er than their more laid-back com­rades.
  • Start­ing for­mal school­ing too early – be­ing in first grade be­fore age 6 – is a risk fac­tor for ear­li­er mor­tal­ity. Hav­ing suf­fi­cient play­time and be­ing able to re­late to class­mates is very im­por­tant for chil­dren.
  • Play­ing with pets is not as­so­ci­at­ed with long­er life. Pets may some­times im­prove well-be­ing, but they are not a sub­sti­tute for friends.
  • Com­bat vet­er­ans are less likely to live long lives, but sur­pris­ingly the psy­cho­log­i­cal stress of war it­self is not nec­es­sarily a ma­jor health threat. Rath­er, it is a cas­cade of un­healthy pat­terns that some­times fol­lows. Those who find mean­ing in a traumat­ic ex­pe­ri­ence and are able to re­es­tab­lish a sense of se­cur­ity about the world are usu­ally the ones who re­turn to a healthy path­way.
  • Peo­ple who feel loved and cared for re­port a bet­ter sense of well-be­ing, but it does­n’t help them live long­er. The clear­est health ben­e­fit of so­cial rela­t­ion­ships comes from be­ing in­volved with and help­ing oth­ers. The groups you as­so­ci­ate with of­ten de­ter­mine the type of per­son you be­come – healthy or un­healthy.

It’s nev­er too late to choose a health­i­er path, Fried­man and Mar­tin said. The key is not to stop worry­ing, they added, but to stop worry­ing about the min­u­tiae.

“Some of the mi­nu­ti­ae of what peo­ple think will help us lead long, healthy lives, such as wor­ry­ing about the ra­tio of omega-6 to omega-3 fat­ty acids in the foods we eat, ac­tu­ally are red her­rings, dis­tract­ing us from the ma­jor path­ways,” Fried­man said. “When we rec­og­nize the long-term healthy and un­healthy pat­terns in our­selves, we can beg­in to max­im­ize the healthy pat­terns.”

“Think­ing of mak­ing changes as tak­ing ‘steps’ is a great strat­e­gy,” Mar­tin ad­vised. “You can’t change ma­jor things about your­self over­night. But mak­ing small changes, and re­peat­ing those steps, can even­tu­ally cre­ate that path to long­er life.”

 

 

David Kekich (Living Healthy to 120: Anti-Aging Breakthroughs) is President/CEO of Maximum Life Foundation that focuses on aging research, a 501(c)(3) corporation dedicated to curing aging-related diseases. For more information, visit: www.MaxLife.org. David contributes to our column Living Healthy to 120: Anti-Aging Breakthroughs. MaxLife is helping to make the anti-aging dream a reality with cutting edge Bio-Engineering research and products.

 

Are You a Hungry Bipolar Bear?

Anger and Agitation Can Be Signs Of Bipolar Disorder

We all know that lethargy, daunting feelings of defeat, thoughts of suicide, and a keen unwillingness to go on with life can all take you – a perfectly good person – and leave you feeling empty, a fragile shell of who you once were or hope to be.

We call this manic depression or bipolar disorder – and it can be much more than just anxiety and sadness.

Intense anger is also a nasty by-product of this debilitating disease.

Depression can “drop the gates” and allow you to get irritated more easily and downright mad when things don’t go your way. Some examples of depression and induced anger can be:

.

If you have 3 or more of the mania symptoms below most of the day, nearly every day, for one week or longer, you may be having a manic episode of bipolar disorder:Excessive happiness, sudden changes from joy to hostility, less need for sleep, talkativeness, distractibility, racing thoughts, high sex drive, making unattainable plans, show poor judgement, grandiosity, reckless behavior.

  • When daily tasks prove harder than you thought…or when items you use every day don’t work the way they should.
  • Something as simple as refitting the canister in your vacuum cleaner after emptying it – if it doesn’t snap right into place as it should, you may grimace, grit your teeth, and shout obscenities in your head or even aloud (Yes, this one is from personal experience!).
  • A link to an internet page might not load as fast as it should, your email might not refresh and you miss an important message, a seemingly harmless storm could cause a power surge that leaves you without electricity and any of these could set you off.
  • And how about a relationship issue? A friend, loved one, or colleague might say or do something that under normal circumstances wouldn’t be worth a scowl but when you’re depressed, it commands as much negative attention as you can muster. You harp on the action or words until you go nuts with anger.

Sound familiar?

Explosive behavior in folks with bipolar disorder is very common, especially in children, tweens and teens.

What Causes the Fury-Fueled Conniptions?

The root cause of depression-induced hissy fits differs from person to person.  A few common causes are:

  • Lack of sleep.
    Depression can and does affect your sleep patterns. You may find it difficult to saw the wood no matter how tired you might be. Lying awake with too much on your mind and an internal dialogue that won’t quit can ruin your slumber. Sleep deprivation is responsible for all sorts of maladies in all of us and anger is a big one.
  • No more pleasure in things.
    If you can’t seem to take pleasure in the things you should or did in the past, you may find your level of tolerance for others and certain situations hits the ground with an annoying thud. Because your mind is tricking you into thinking your life isn’t worth the birth certificate it’s printed on, it’s perfectly logical to understand why you can’t enjoy the things that make for a healthy, rich living experience.
  • Inability to focus on work, family or friends.
    They say you don’t know what you got till it’s gone. It can be very frustrating to lose your desire to do a good job at work, take a picnic with friends and family, or even sit down to watch a good movie. It’s especially irritating when you were able to do these things before you became depressed.

If any of this rings a bell for you, or if you know someone who shows the signs, stick around. You’re going to discover how to beat it without using dangerous pills to alter your natural chemistry.

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10 Things That Make You Happy

What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.

The blame for addiction stretches for miles.

It covers everything from depression and tough times to a little something to help you sleep and a little something to help you stay awake. But any way you’d care to look at it, addiction is a killer, a beast that lives within the addicted person and calls to them for attention. And what it craves will eventually put them in an early grave.

This beast will tell an addict things – things they may or may not want to hear – just to get them to succumb to the urge to “use.” When we examine this phenomenon a little closer, the root of the problem is clear: addiction is a direct result of being unhappy or having negative thoughts and fears of rejection.

Think about it. Would you have ever had a beer if someone didn’t first coax you into drinking it?

So the addict would never have taken that first drink, pill, puff of marijuana, line of cocaine, shot of opiate, or whatever else. This is an example of fear of rejection.

Also, the drug of choice has a much-desired ability to mask negative thoughts and temporarily bring the user happiness. Once the drug has worn off, the addicted person is then forced to deal with reality again and might turn to another “dose” for relief.

The good news is it doesn’t have to be this way. Not you or anyone you care about needs to face addiction – even if they are already abusing substances.

Why?

Because when we understand the root cause, we can effectively address it and work toward making the change that safely, naturally, and healthily brings happiness, drowns fears, and silences negative thoughts spewed by the parasitic beast whose only mission is to kill its host.

You may be thinking that addictions such as alcoholism are inherited. Truth is, only

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