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Awareness Magazine
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Say Yes to Less Stress with these

Mind/Body Tips and Techniques

By Kathy Gruver, PhD

It’s no surprise to learn that stress is one of the leading causes of illness in our society. In fact, it’s estimated that 60-80% of our doctors’ visits are from stress-related disease. And it seems like women are faced with more stress than ever. We are in an age where we are raising the kids, holding down a job, running the errands, running the house, running marathons and forgetting to put ourselves on the to-do list. We have been told we can do it all and we are trying our darndest to live up to that. Here are some tips to assure you will stress less.

Slow Food:

How many times have we rushed out of the house and shoved something stale and packaged into our mouths and called it breakfast?  

• Keep healthy food handy, in your car, in your desk and in your cupboards, where it’s easy to reach. Bars and nuts are great snacks and can be a full meal if necessary. Be sure you’re getting enough protein and not just relying on carbohydrates.

• Make sure that you drink enough water -— but not soda, which is one of the unhealthiest things you can consume and could be contributing to osteoporosis. Both artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup are substances that are doing horrible things to our bodies.  

• Eat slowly — preferably not in your car, during an argument or in front of depressing news or a violent TV show. Stress slows the digestive system and eating under duress can wreak havoc with your stomach and intestines.  

One a day:

Stressed women need extra vitamins and minerals, especially taking into account various times of the month and menopause.  

• I suggest everyone take a high-quality vitamin, mineral and amino acid supplement.

• The B vitamins are great at helping with stress, depression and sleep. But take them earlier in the day, as they can cause disruption of sleep if taken too late.

To sleep, perchance to catch up!

The lack of sleep has been linked with obesity, depression and shorter life span. There are numerous healthy sleep suggestions; here are a few:  

• Don’t do anything in bed other than sleep. (Well, sex is okay too and it’s a great stress-buster.)

• Supplements like melatonin, valerian root or L-tryptophan can help, as well as homeopathics. (Note: Don’t take tryptophan if you are on SSRI’s [selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors] for depression.)  

• Keep a notebook by the bed so if you wake in the night remembering that you have something to do, you can do a mind-dump and get it out. Don’t dwell. Or, if you find thoughts continually intruding, use an affirmation to help. Say, “I fall asleep quickly and easily; I wake up feeling refreshed.” It not only shuts out those other thoughts, but can also program your body.  

The 3 R’s … Relax. Relax. Relax:

• Find an activity that will relax you and release your stress.  

• Meditate. If you think you are not a meditator, there is a very easy technique called mini-meditations. These can be done anywhere, by anyone, at any time. Simply concentrate on your breath, the rise and fall of your chest. On the inhale, think, “I am…,” and on the exhale, think, “…at peace.” Repeat. This stops our reaction to the stress, calms our nervous system and readies the brain for higher functioning.  

• Work- or school-related tasks are not relaxation -— even if your laptop is with you at the beach and your textbook is being read in the bath. To truly relax, you have to distance yourself from the tasks at hand.  

• Get your body moving. Try an activity like yoga, dance, tai chi or chi gong.

• Pay attention to your posture. Holding your shoulders up or your neck tight keeps your stress level higher and your muscles tense.  

• Try to take at least one day per month that is just for  you. Get out of your environment and recharge your battery.  

A+ is not the amount of stress. It is how you deal with the stress. I am a Type A personality. Because of this, I am more prone to heart issues, stress-related disease and stroke. (Great, huh… productive and on schedule, but dead!) I know my limits, but the problem comes when something unexpected pushes those limits: There’s extra traffic, the cat throws up, the bacon catches fire, etc. To de-stress, I do things like take hip-hop and trapeze lessons. For you, it might be a walk around the block, a nap or hot bath. Whatever you choose, do something to relieve the stress rather than allowing it to build up.

• It’s those unplanned distractions that increase our negative reaction to stress, the feeling of helplessness or hopelessness. If you have a buffer, then if something suddenly happens, you can deal better than if you had everything scheduled down to the millisecond. And if nothing happens, you have a few extra minutes to catch your breath and relax. And do a mini. It’s become very hip and cool in our society to be busy.  

We hear people trying to outdo each other all the time. “I’m soooooo busy, I can’t….” We wear it like it’s a badge of honor. But it’s detrimental to our health. It is eating away at the vitality and life force that sustains us. We stopped giving in to peer pressure when we left high school, didn’t we?

Gain your accolades by being relaxed, in control and stress-free. Your body will thank you, today and tomorrow!

Dr. Kathy Gruver is a natural health expert, speaker, educator, and practitioner. She earned her PhD in Natural Health and has authored three books: The Alternative Medicine Cabinet, Body/Mind Therapies for the Bodyworker, and her newest, Conquer Your Stress with Mind/Body Techniques. She has been featured in numerous publications and has appeared as a guest expert on radio and TV programs. Dr. Gruver will host a TV show based on The Alternative Medicine Cabinet on OTV.
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