BellaSpark Jan/Feb 2012 : Page 8

Views & News Head off Stress in Advance Sally Petersen Preventing stress is more effective at reducing overall stress than are techniques of relaxation or thought management, says a new study from Robert Epstein, PhD. He defined four competencies for stress management: prevention, source management, relaxation and thought management. Epstein expected to find that relaxation was the most helpful technique, followed by thought management . However, his research showed that these were third and fourth in effectiveness for managing stress, even though these are the skills that people are most likely to seek to improve through training or counseling. What are the best techniques for preventing stress ? Be proactive. Planning your day, week or year and consciously avoiding stressors are approaches that most successfully protect you from harmful stress levels. Take time to identify stressors and reduce or eliminate them. Don’t over-schedule or over-promise. Avoid destructive reactionary ways of dealing with stress: DON’T drink, do drugs or overeat. Instead, DO exercise, socialize and laugh. The second most powerful competency is source management . Delegate tasks, organize your space efficiently, keep lists and schedule your time well. People who feel they have control of their decisions and their lives are generally happier. Skills of relaxation and thought management are invaluable in handling day-to-day events and interactions with others with minimal stress. Numerous studies confirm the positive results obtained from forms of relaxation such as meditation, yoga, breathing techniques and muscle-relaxation exercises. Likewise, therapists teach empowering and helpful ways to reframe your thinking about stressful events so you can manage more effectively and appreciate your experiences. The ability to manage stress has a high positive correlation to happiness. People reap the greatest benefits by preventing stressful situations. You have more control over this than you might think. Check out “Fight the Frazzled Mind,” by Robert Epstein, PhD, Scientific American Mind , Sept/Oct 2011. To test your stress-management competencies, visit . Bad for your Breath, Great for your Brain Katrina Pfannkuch Loading up meals with a little extra garlic may not be such a bad idea after all. The active ingredient in garlic extract was recently tested as a potential cure for Alzheimer’s, and it was proved helpful in prevention of the disease. According to Current Medicine Chemistry , preliminary results in studies involving aged garlic extract plus a key compound (S-allyl-L-cysteine) showed protective effects against the inflammatory process and chemical changes in the brain that occur in Alzheimer’s patients. One study on mice showed that a four-month treatment with aged garlic extract decreased the overall amount of plaque build-up in their brains. Prevention is the best defense against Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia and the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Studies show that years before symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease appear, proteins called amyloid-beta peptides start depositing in the brain. The resulting amyloid plaques can cause brain swelling which damages neurons and neuronal networks and often leads to dementia. Most drugs currently available to treat Alzheimer’s only focus on treating the symptoms, and are becoming increasingly expensive. New Year, Healthy Resolutions Katrina Pfannkuch A new year invites us to take a look at ways to improve our lives. The trick to sticking to new habits is to make them simple. Here are a few that may inspire you. Keep moving. Doctors suggest 30-45 minutes of exercise at least three times per week. Get up from your desk and walk every 30 minutes or so if possible. Also make sure your workstation is ergonomically correct and use “prime moving muscles’’ including abs and glutes as well as hip and shoulder stabilizers while at your desk. Actively participate in your health care. Get involved in self-care while you are healthy. If a health crisis hits, know your options, and ask, learn and do everything you can to help your doctors help you. Make small healthy changes to your diet. Simple changes in meal choices save calories every day. Nip weight gain in the bud without depriving yourself through wise and tasty selections. Schedule one family dinner together per day. No TV! Sit down to an actual dinner table to help you eat and digest food in a healthy way while you connect with your family and share something about your day. Daydream. Take time to let your mind wander. Cultivating imagination inspires creativity, develops a sense of self and connects you to your inner abundance. 8 BellaSpark January/February 2012

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