Women’s Way to Health – September 15th

ALA MOANA (HawaiiNewsNow) – Find out how to live stress free and lead a healthier lifestyle with Hawai’i Pacific Health in a free community health event called “Women’s Way to Health.” Women’s health experts will show you how to manage your everyday stress, prevent heart attacks later in life, and maintain proper posture and balance. The presentations will be followed by a Q&A and panel discussion.

Saturday, Sept. 15 from 8:30 a.m. – 12 noon at the Ala Moana Hotel, Hibiscus Ballroom.

Visit Hawaii Pacific Health for more information. Or call Hawai’i Pacific Health Conference Services at 522-3469.

The program will also be available via videoconference sites at Pali Momi Medical Center and Wilcox Memorial Hospital. Program co-chairs are James Kakuda, MD, surgical oncologist at Pali Momi Medical Center, and Lauren Strickland, DO, breast surgical oncologist & general surgeon at Kapi’olani Women’s Center.

Hawai’i Pacific Health’s Women’s Centers include Kapi’olani Women’s Center in Honolulu, Pali Momi Women’s Center in Leeward Oahu and Wilcox Health Women’s Center at Wilcox Memorial Hospital on Kaua’i.

Recognizing Stress Symptoms and A Stress Reduction Tip

Asithi – BlogHer

 

You are more than just a sum of your body parts. You are a complicated creature that reacts to physical health, emotional states, traffic, noise, weather, and other people. There is an intimate connection between your physical self and your inner self — the body/mind connection.

This post discusses the various stress symptoms and offers a stress reduction tip.

Stress and your physical health

Heart attack survivors suffering from stress have a higher chance of dying. Stress causes the plaque to thicken which will eventually lead to another heart attack. In addition, heart attack survivors suffering from stress also feel greater physical limitations and a worsen quality of life. You cannot separate your physical health from your emotional health.

Stress Symptoms

Stress is a fact of life. Positive stress is challenging while negative stress is overload. It is a good thing to have a little positive stress in your life because they are often defining moments in your life (ie. how you handled a big project, pregnancy, or recover from an injury). These moments let you know what you are made of (and you are far more capable than you give yourself credit). However, negative stress often manifests into physical stress symptoms.

When you feel stress, your body’s immediate reaction is to produce more adrenaline and cortisol. These two hormones shift your body into fight or flight mode by increasing your heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension. However, in the modern era, instead of killing a wild beast, you internalized all these physical stress symptoms. Without an outlet, you become chronically stressed.

Symptoms of chronic stress include:

  • You are eating more or eating less than normal (hence weight gain or weight loss).
  • You are constantly fatigue.
  • Your sleeping habits change (either sleeping more or suffering from insomnia).
  • You have unexplained aches and pains that are not related to an injury or exercise.
  • You are more forgetful.
  • Your behavior changes (more anxious, angry, or nervous than normal).
  • You are drinking, smoking, or using drugs more often.
  • You get sick more often.

Stress reduction tip with mindful relaxation

The opposite of stress is personal peace. Notice the word “personal.” It is different for everyone. For the majority of us, achieving personal peace (that zen-like state) is a process that we need to practice regularly.

Here is a stress reduction technique using mindful relaxation:

  • Sit or lie down. Close your eyes and relax every muscle. I like to envision a small gray cloud that starts at my head, slowly growing bigger as it travels down my body (gathering all my stress), and expelling from the soles of my feet. I repeat this imaginary until I feel the tension leaving my body.
  • Breathe through your nose. Become aware of each breath. Sometimes it helps to repeat one word or a few phrases while you are breathing. As I gather the gray forces in my body, I like to mentally say “Out!” each time I shot the gray forces away from my body.

If you usually do not sit still, you might find this stress reduction technique challenging at first. Maybe it might seem like a waste of time to sit or lie so still, but give this stress reduction technique a try. Challenge yourself by measuring how long you are able to practice being still each day.

You will find that regular practice of this stress reduction tip will:

  • Improve your concentration
  • Increase your awareness of tension in your body
  • Reduce your fight or flight responses.

A recent study that included 62 “stressed out” individuals found that those who practice the stress reduction technique of using mindful relaxation, 54% notice a reduction in psychological distress by the end of the 3 month study. The control individuals had no such stress reduction. The mindful relaxation group also reported a 46% drop in medical symptoms.

So the next time you are experience stress symptoms, practice this stress reduction tip to see if you can get that gray cloud of stress out of your system.

7 Ways to Reduce Stress

By: Mehmet Oz, MD – O, The Oprah Magazine

 

TAKE MORE RESTROOM BREAKS
There’s a reason it’s called the restroom: It’s the one place—at work or at home—where no one will bother you. If you’re overwhelmed, steal away for a five-minute meditation break. Inhale deeply into your belly and try to focus on your breathing. You’ll emerge calmer, and maybe even more productive. Research shows that meditation can improve your ability to concentrate.
SHOW UP FIVE MINUTES EARLY
Everyone knows the feeling: You’re running late, stuck in traffic, glancing at your watch every 30 seconds in frustration. Give yourself extra time to get wherever you need to go. Being an early bird will kill stress by giving you more control over your day and your commitments.
CHANGE YOUR STRESS EATING
The best stress-quashing foods are made by Mother Nature, not Baskin-Robbins. Berries are naturally rich in vitamin C, which helps fight increased levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. A handful of pistachios can lower your blood pressure, which means less of a spike when you get that next rush of adrenaline.
AND QUIT STRESS DRINKING
Yes, a few cocktails can relax you, but alcohol also prevents your brain from entering stages of deep sleep. And sleep and stress are bound together: Chronic stress can keep you up at night, and a lack of sleep can also lead to further stress. Limit yourself to no more than one drink a night.
GET YOUR HEART PUMPING
Stress makes your body spew out two hormones: cortisol and adrenaline. These chemicals put your body into fight-or-flight mode, ratcheting up your energy level and causing your heart to pound and your muscles to tense. Exercise gives you an outlet to release some of that tension. A good workout also increases your levels of “feel-good” chemicals called endorphins.
MAKE IT A COMEDY NIGHT
Researchers say that merely anticipating a laugh can jump-start healthy changes in the body by reducing levels of stress hormones, which have been linked to conditions like obesity, heart disease, and memory impairment, to name just a few.
ENJOY THE COMPANY OF FRIENDS
Socializing releases oxytocin, a chemical that can help combat stress hormones and lower your blood pressure. Whether it’s spending time with dog lovers, book club buddies, or siblings—whatever group you like—just knowing you’re not alone can go a long way toward coping with stress.

Turn Stress into Strength

By: Bob Greene – Oprah Radio

Debbie Mandel, author of Addicted to Stress, says many women don’t realize they are addicted to stress because they are not paying attention to their own needs. “Instead of helicoptering over everyone else and their happiness, it’s time to helicopter over yourself and identify that pattern of [being an] overdoer at home and at work,” she says. Debbie shares ways to combat stress and turn it into useful energy.

Reclaim Your Identity
Find the hidden girl within! Who were you before you became a wife, mother or colleague? What makes your heart sing? What do you enjoy doing? “You need to go back to the basics of your identity,” Debbie says. Think about what you like to do and ask others what you are good at doing and write these things down. Debbie says you should ask yourself, “What is it I want to accomplish for myself instead of other people?”

Learn to Become a Healthy Narcissist
You don’t need to be self-obsessed to be a healthy narcissist, Debbie says. Instead, engage in good self-care, she says. “Dress to please yourself and for success,” Debbie says. “Your accessories, anything about you, even the jewelry you wear—whether it is costume or it is real or it is fun—it expresses who you are, your identity to others.”

Build a Healthy Body
Lift weights to lift your spirit or take an aerobics class to sweat away the stress of the day, Debbie says. “Because I am exercising and feeling fit and energetic and ridding myself of stress, I will [also] eat healthy, because my body is my temple,” she says.

Cultivate Your Sense of Fun and Humor
Reduce problems and stress to absurdity by looking at life with a sense of humor, Debbie says. Then, learn some jokes, read funny books and watch funny TV shows. “If you keep looking at ‘funny,’ it will become a part of you,” Debbie says. “Pretend you are a detective and you’ve got this eye for humor. I think if you find someone who makes you laugh or smile, conjure that up [during a stressful moment], and it just breaks the perspective immediately.”

Jump-Start Your Libido
Women get depleted from their constant to-do list, and sex is often the last thing on their minds, Debbie says. “A woman has to relax, she has to be in a good zone, and if she is stressed, [sex] is just not going to happen,” she says. “There has to be a point where you say, ‘[Intimacy] is special for me, and I am scheduling it and I am making time,’ and then everything will be better for you because you will be happier. This is a way to harness your power.”

Reframe Your Thoughts
When people get upset, they create a negative stories. Why not make your stories positive instead? “Come up with a way to create a positive story where you are the heroine, and this way you build up immunity to all this negativity,” Debbie says.

How To Break The I’m-So-Stressed Cycle

By: ForbesWomen

 

How To Break The I’m-So-Stressed Cycle

Where we once looked at money, cars and houses as the symbols of success, now, it’s all about how busy you are. Here’s how to break the busy habit.

Change the Subject

If you find yourself with a group of people who seem to do nothing but compare notes on their stressful days, stay out of the conversation or change the subject, says psychologist Stephanie Smith. It will help keep you out of the game of I’m-so-stressed one-upmanship that many busy women like to play.

 

Friend People Who Don’t Value Busyness

“Find others who don’t exhibit supermom, competitive behaviors,” says Ginamarie Scott Lignon, a professor of psychology at Villanova University. The more you are around others who don’t value being busy, the less pressure you will feel to throw Martha Stewart birthdays for your child.

 

Think About Your Priorities

Do you find all the activities you do rewarding, or is it merely the idea of being busy that you like? Is how you are spending your time and your activities really lining up with your priorities? If you are volunteering at your children’s school, are you spending more time with the teachers than with your kids?

 

Don’t Be Too Harsh On Yourself

If you didn’t get to that yoga class today or didn’t fulfill those 10 hours of monthly community service you vowed to do in January, it doesn’t mean you are lazy. “Don’t be so quick to judge yourself–and others–for not always accomplishing something every moment of the day,” says Smith.

 

Separate Must-Dos From the Extras

If your kids are a priority, make sure to make it to their soccer matches. But think about whether waking up at 6 a.m. before work to bake brownies for the game is really forging a bond with your child, or whether you are doing it because you know other mothers will be baking treats, too. That’s what bakeries are for.

 

Deconstruct Your Downtime

Many people feel the urge to always be productive. While yoga or going to the gym can be relaxing, are you turning them into another check on your to-do list? Spend time doing something completely unstructured, such as sitting in a quiet room or in your backyard. “Unstructured downtime can be an asset to your mental health,” says Smith.

 

 

Defensive Pessimism: The Power of Negative Thinking

By: Tim Jarvis – O, The Oprah Magazine

 

Cheer up. Be happy. Find the silver lining. Smile.

If you didn’t know any better, you might say we’re a country that preaches optimism. But some 30 to 35 percent of Americans employ a calculated form of negative thinking—called defensive pessimism—that can lead to very positive results, according to Julie K. Norem, PhD, a professor of psychology at Wellesley College.

We’re not talking about a general disposition to see the glass half-empty: “Defensive pessimism is a strategy used in specific situations to manage anxiety, fear, and worry,” says Norem, who has conducted seminal research on the subject. “Defensive pessimists,” she says, “prepare for a situation by setting low expectations for themselves, then follow up with a very detailed assessment of everything that may go wrong.” Once they’ve imagined the full range of bad outcomes, they start figuring out how they’ll handle them, and that gives them a sense of control.

“What’s intriguing about defensive pessimists,” adds Lawrence Sanna, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who has also studied the phenomenon, “is that they tend to be very successful people, and so their low opinion of the outcome isn’t realistic; they use it to motivate themselves to perform better.” For example, an executive is getting ready to pitch a project, and she thinks beforehand, “The client is going to be really difficult; he’s not going to like my proposal. I have to make sure I explain things very clearly.” “She uses defensive pessimism as a tool to work through all the possibilities so she’s prepared for everything, even failure,” Sanna says. “And if she does fail, she’s ready for it, so it’s not so catastrophic.”

If all this sounds familiar (take the quiz to see if you use defensive pessimism), a piece of advice from the experts may give you a lift: Don’t listen to appeals from friends or family to look on the bright side. “Research shows that if you pressure defensive pessimists into being optimistic, or try to manipulate their mood, their performance deteriorates,” says Andrew J. Elliot, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. One of the most frequent comments Norem got after publishing The Positive Power of Negative Thinking in 2001 was “Thank you. I can finally tell my mother to shut up.”

Health: The Power of Resilience

By: Dr. Joan Borysenko (Courtesy of O, The Oprah Magazine)

 

When times get tough, do you break down or break through? After losing her father, Dr. Joan Borysenko channeled her grief in ways that transformed her life. Find out where you are now and what you can do to be more resilient. Take her quiz!

Are you resilient when things fall apart, or do you go down for the count? In a world changing as quickly as ours, resilience is a skill that we all need to cultivate. Fortunately, it’s not a trait limited to the genetically gifted few. Anyone can learn how to survive and thrive in changing times.

Let me tell you a story from my own life. When I was in my 20s, my beloved father was diagnosed with cancer. After two years, he chose to end his life rather continue with a treatment that caused unbearable emotional side effects. I was a cancer researcher at Tufts Medical School at the time, and although I knew a lot about cells in petri dishes, I knew almost nothing about human beings with cancer.

All that changed after Dad’s death. I needed to make meaning out of our family’s tragedy and channel my grief and anger in a positive way. I left the laboratory and retrained as a clinical psychologist. In the early 1980s, I co-founded a mind-body clinic at a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital. We offered programs for people with cancer, AIDS and stress-related disorders. The pain of Dad’s illness and death was eventually transformed into both a new career for me and new hope for people who were ill. That’s the power of resilience.

Are you resilient? The only way to tell is to analyze how you respond to stressful situations. When the ocean is calm, after all, every boat can stay afloat. But in a storm, you see what they’re really made of.

Do you have what it takes to be resilient? Take the quiz!

New York Times best-selling author Dr. Joan Borysenko is a world-renowned expert in stress management and mind-body medicine. Her gracious presence, sense of humor and ability to combine the latest scientific research with personal stories and riveting anecdotes make her a popular speaker in venues ranging from hospitals and corporations to conferences and retreat centers. Her most recent book, It’s Not the End of the World: Developing Resilience in Times of Change (Hay House), is available now.

Simple Patience Techniques

By: Michelle Burford – The Oprah Magazine

 

Whenever her friend made her wait, Michelle Burford got angrier by the second—until she realized that when it comes to being happy, there’s no time like the present.

 

While there are many things I adore about my old friend Dana—her brilliance with a joke, her fierce determination, her red satin Chanel clutch—she does have one flaw I’ve never gotten over: She’s congenitally incapable of showing up anywhere on time. Whether we schedule dinner weeks in advance or decide on a last-minute bike ride through the park, she inevitably comes whisking around the corner 23 minutes late, muttering excuses and pretending not to notice how thoroughly miffed I am.

Try as I might—and, oh, did I try—I could not make Dana embrace punctuality. Then it dawned on me that instead of attempting to change her behavior, I’d be better off focusing on my own. Thus was born a whole new strategy: calculated delay. Whenever I met up with Dana, I began arriving 20 minutes late myself. That made her just about on time, and spared me hours of seething.

For months, my plan worked beautifully—until the morning Dana hit an all-time low: We were scheduled to meet for a kayaking class on the Hudson River, but she woke up late and dashed off a slew of cyberexcuses from her BlackBerry…52 minutes after I and all of my classmates had left the dock.

Paddling down a river for three hours gives a person a chance to think, and by the time I came ashore that afternoon, I’d sloshed my way to an epiphany. For ten years I’d been putting a piece of my happiness in the hands of a chronic procrastinator—letting her tardiness chip away at my good mood with every tick of the clock. That afternoon, as the waters of the Hudson lapped against my kayak, I realized I was so consumed with Dana’s timing that I wasn’t even experiencing the ride. The breeze, the sun, the currents, the glory of Manhattan rising from the river—all of it was erased by my anger.

Almost as surely as I’ll be a chatterbox for the rest of my days, Dana will be late. Period. And depending on the circumstances, I’ll be somewhere between prickly and enraged when she arrives. Yet as that initial visceral reaction subsides, I have a choice. I can continue to stew in my own pissiness or I can drop it and enjoy what’s right in front of me. I now choose the latter—dashing off a text that says “I’m leaving,” mounting my bike, and riding away—and that has made all the difference.

Flexing the Attitude

By: Chee Gates – The Oprah Magazine

You probably know at least one spirited soul who, no matter what, trucks through life’s muck and always comes out clean and smiling. Those are the people who have psychological resilience, according to Mehmet Oz, MD, a cardiac surgeon at New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center and coauthor of You: The Smart Patient. He talks about having a plan to keep daily irritations and what he calls NUTS (nagging, unfinished tasks) from getting to you: Lick your lips and swallow, go to another room, or take ten deep breaths. Even a 15-second time-out gives you a chance to react more rationally when the boss makes a mildly annoying comment. Maintaining perspective, says Oz, is also crucial. “I saw lots of responses to stress in New Orleans post-Katrina,” he says. “The people who can transcend the NUTS and move on to bigger issues like What the heck am I doing on this planet? or Is there a meaning to what’s going on here?—those are the people who will make it through hard times.”

Meditation is also a great way to stay mentally buoyant, says Richard Davidson, PhD, director of the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin. He is studying why some individuals do better than others when exposed to adversity and believes the difference has to do with how the brain, particularly the prefrontal cortex (involved in emotions and memory), regulates negative emotions. Some people are rigged with a genetic advantage, but, says Davidson, the gray matter can definitely be trained. In one of his best-known studies, a group of average Americans took an eight-week meditation course. Afterward, brain scans showed increased activation in their prefrontal cortexes, compared with a control group. “These are individuals who, when adversity occurs, will recover more quickly,” says Davidson. “They can’t isolate themselves from the adversity—that’s impossible. But what can be changed is how they react. And one of the things that distinguishes resilient people from vulnerable people is the extent to which a stressful event elicits a persistent response versus a more acute, short-lived one.” As an interesting aside, Davidson’s subjects were injected with flu vaccine. The ones who went through the training had a significantly greater rise in antibodies than the nonmeditators. Talk about resilience!

Break Your Bad Habits

Heather Loeb – Women’s Health Magazine

 

Chugging Caffeine

When a coffee fanatic doesn’t get that fix, blood flow in the brain spikes, according to a recent study in Psychopharmacology. This expansion of blood vessels results in a headache, while you suffer from other nasty symptoms such as fatigue and grumpiness. To avoid this, you visit the office java pot or duck out to grab a cup.

Why it’s bad: A constant infusion of joe can set your nerves on edge. “High daily caffeine intake may decrease hand steadiness and increase anxiety,” says Russell Keast, Ph.D., a caffeine-consumption researcher at the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences at Deakin University in Australia. Then there’s a study from Dartmouth Medical School that found that people who consumed 400 milligrams of caffeine a day (the amount in about four eight-ounce cups of coffee) for an entire week showed a 35 percent decrease in insulin sensitivity, which may up the risk of diabetes.

Break the habit: Start by writing down every single thing you eat or drink for a few days to identify all the sources of caffeine—soda, coffee, tea, and energy drinks are common culprits—then tally the total number of milligrams you’re consuming, says Chad Reissig, Ph.D., a Johns Hopkins University researcher who studies caffeine’s behavioral effects. (You can find the actual amounts on beverage manufacturers’ websites.) Then set out to reduce your caffeine intake by about 10 percent. “You can also mix decaf with your cup of full-strength coffee and slowly increase the ratio,” says Reissig. Keep dialing back by 10 percent every few days until your craving subsides.

 

Cranking the Tunes

This is a habit that sneaks up on you: You listen to your music through your headphones at a higher volume than you should, and eventually your ears get used to it. Then you play it at that level all the time. “It’s possible to become accustomed to louder and louder sounds without realizing it,” says Robert Fifer, Au.D., director of audiology and speech-language pathology at the University of Miami’s Mailman Center for Child Development.

Why it’s bad: Blasting Beyonce at full volume through earbuds for long intervals can result in permanent hearing damage, because your body lacks a self-defense mechanism for loud noise. While you won’t feel pain in your ears until the volume exceeds 120 decibels, the damage can begin much earlier than that. The reason: The cells in your inner ear that process sound begin working overtime to keep up with the onslaught. Eventually, they die off under stress, Fifer says. You may also experience a constant ringing in your ears, called tinnitus.

Break the habit: You have to retrain your brain to perceive lower volume levels as normal, and to automatically tune out background noise. Start by turning down the volume on your iPod or car stereo until you can hear people who are talking to you. “When you force yourself to listen to music at a lower level, your brain will begin to perceive it as normal after about a week,” explains Catherine Palmer, Ph.D., the director of audiology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Eye & Ear Institute.

 

Taking a Quick Drag Every Now And Then

While regular smokers have a chemical component fueling their addiction, people who smoke only occasionally succumb mainly to social and environmental triggers. “The most powerful prompt is often being around people who are smoking,” notes Michael Fiore, M.D., director of the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention.

Why it’s bad: Lighting up even a few times a month is still poisoning yourself. “There’s no lower limit of exposure to tobacco smoke that’s safe,” says Richard D. Hurt, M.D., director of the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center. Just one cigarette can injure the walls of your blood vessels—which can lead to heart disease and blood clots. Looming in the background is the risk of developing a full-blown addiction. Some research suggests a quarter of “occasional” smokers go full-time.

Break the habit: Benign cigarette substitutes can work wonders. Grab a drink stirrer and hold it between your fingers. Set it between your lips while you take out your wallet or phone. This keeps your mouth and hands busy. And carry nicotine gum or lozenges to help wean you off the addiction, Fiore says. Though healthier than cigs, they can be habit forming, so use restraint.

 

Vegging out Every Night

Once or twice a week, it’s totally OK to grab some snacks and fire up the plasma in the evening. But every night? Bad habit. “People who are under high levels of stress and who may not have a large network of friends are prone to isolating themselves after work,” says Leonard Jason, Ph.D., a DePaul University psychologist who studies the challenges of breaking bad habits. “Eventually, it becomes their default.”

Why it’s bad: People can consume up to 71 percent more food while they’re glued to the tube, so it’s no surprise that watching more than 19 hours a week increases your odds of being overweight by 97 percent, according to a Belgian study. And TV is not an ideal way to engage your brain. For every hour beyond 80 minutes that you watch daily, your risk of developing Alzheimer’s increases by 30 percent, say researchers at Case Western Reserve University.

Break the habit: Decide which shows are must-see, then record them and watch later: Zipping through the commercials can cut about half an hour off every two hours of couch time. And at least three times a week, make after-work plans that specifically involve being with other people, whether it’s meeting a few friends for dinner, taking a class, or joining a recreational sports team.