Category Archives: stress reduction

The Yoga That Eases Blood Pressure

s-STRESSBUSTING-YOGA-large300Some yoga-licious news from the meeting of the American Society of Hypertension (AHH). Hatha yoga introduced to individuals with mild to moderate hypertension appears to lower blood pressure, and reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure might be enough to avoid starting antihypertensive medications, . (more)

Source:  Michael O’Riordan. Hatha yoga reduces blood pressure in mildly hypertensive patients. theheart.org. [Clinical Conditions > Hypertension > Hypertension]; May 20, 2013. Accessed athttp://www.theheart.org/article/1541351.do on May 25, 2013


Can Mindfulness Improve Standardized Test Scores?

ps_imageCheck out Christie Nicholson’s Scientific American story about new research published in the journal Psychological Science that suggests that meditation training may boost GRE scores.

Recently scientists analyzed whether such a practice could help improve undergrads’ test scores… (read more)

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Group Therapy On The Go

Here’s a beach sculpture –aka sand castle– I created in Long Beach Island, NJ about 24 hours after completing my first coed sprint triathlon.  It’s a self-portrait inspired by the minor torment I felt during the final two miles of the run.

Have you ever considered doing a race?  Don’t over think it.  Just register, train and show up.  Then let the magic happen.  A little like group meditation, the communal experience is truly a mind body one. Read about upcoming fitness events near you at active.com

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Chemical Sensitivity, Simplified

Alternahealthgrrrl followers have to know that I’m a huge fan of Dr Leo Galland and his smart website, Pill Advised. Don’t miss his recent post, Are Chemicals Making You Sick? The Hidden Health Problem of Chemical Sensitivity on the Huffington Post Healthy Living channel.

People who are intolerant of chemicals in everyday products or the environment often find their problems ignored or brushed aside by other people, even their doctors.

Over the past 30 years I’ve routinely asked patients about intolerance to chemicals, foods and drugs and found a normal bell-shaped curve of distribution: Most people in my medical practice have some degree of chemical intolerance, a small percentage are sensitive to just about anything that’s synthetic and a small percentage report no sensitivity at all.

Where a person sits on that curve may change, depending upon numerous factors, which include infection, toxic exposures, nutritional depletion, and life stress. (More)

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Mindfulness Trend Makes News

Congressman Tim Ryan’s book on the benefits of meditation prompted all sorts of trend stories, including this segment on PBS’s Religion & Ethics Newsweekly.  Lucky Severson produced a pretty nice piece, and it features interviews with Ryan as well as Jon Kabat-Zinn. Check it out:  Mindfulness Going Mainstream

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Meditation Is Prevention: Meditating Helps Fight Colds, Flu

 

Sick of getting sick?  Start meditating. New research supports the theory that meditation, like exercise, protects the body from cold and flu.

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers looked at the impact of meditation and exercise on how often people got a cold or flu, as well as how bad the bug got and how long it lasted.  They found that both meditation and exercise offered plenty of protective power. The conclusion: Meditation and exercise can reduce the incidence, duration and severity of colds and the flu by about 30 percent to 60 percent.



The Meditation Type That’s Just Right For You

Mainstream outlets are a buzz about how new research shows that you’re more likely to be successful with meditation if you chose a type you like.  I’m glad to see studies like this being conducted, and even happier that the results are well publicized.  But it’s not super surprising is you’ve ever practiced, is it?

I have to say, though, this story makes me want to check out Mantra style.  Read more here.

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Five Good Minutes At Work: Mindfulness Strategies

Dr. Jeff Brantley

Dr. Jeff Brantley, founder and director of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program at Duke Integrative Medicine, reads from his book, “Five Good Minutes At Work,” during a DukeWell seminar. “The five good minutes concept is simple,” Brantley writes in the book. “Take the time, for just five minutes to be present mindfully.”

1. Focus on a calming object. When negative thoughts fill the mind, ground yourself by looking at an object that invokes calmness, such as a plant or a personal photo. Then focus your attention on your breath for several minutes. When your attention wanders toward the negative thoughts, focus it gently again on your breath and the object.
2. Train your attention. Choose a rote task like washing your hands and train yourself to pay attention to the sensations of the moment each time you do it. “This is a way of practicing focusing our attention,” Brantley said. “Focusing on physical sensations brings the mind back to the present.”
3. Take a power break. In his book, Brantley suggests taking five minutes for a silent meditation retreat away from all electronics. “Take notice of the simple vibrancy of your immediate surroundings,” he writes. Sitting quietly at your workplace, focus on your senses; listen to passing noises, enjoy patches of color and notice the warmth of your hands in your lap. Pay attention to the world around you without feeling the need to respond.
4. Take a hike. “Just before lunch, give yourself permission to get outside,” Brantley writes in his book. “Take five minutes to be mindful of your natural surroundings. When it comes time to return, with every step you take toward your job site, become increasingly aware of the calming power of being outside.”  For more, click here. 

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To Feel Less Stressed, Try MBSR

MBSRIt only takes a few weeks of mindfulness-based stress reduction training to notice an improvement, according to a new study.  The findings support an existing body research showing that mindfulness leads to less perceived stress.

Find an MBSR program near you via the University of Massachusetts Medical School Center for Mindfulness

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Citation: Baer, R. A., Carmody, J. and Hunsinger, M. (2012), Weekly Change in Mindfulness and Perceived Stress in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program. J. Clin. Psychol.. doi: 10.1002/jclp.21865



Biofeedback is Back!

biofeedback device

I’m excited to see more coverage of biofeedback, which can help you interpret your body’s physical responses to stress (heart rate) usually with a device, such as a fingertip sensor, that measures the changes in temperature skin.

The tools discussed in this NYT Well blog are a sort of high-tech approach akin to relaxation techniques such as deep breathing. Computerized biofeedback gadgets have been shown to help teach relaxation and stress management exercises.  They’re an important part of a holistic approach that may be helpful to people dealing with IBS, migraines and numerous other medical conditions that are influenced by stress levels.  The source in this NYT Well blog story notes that kids in particular seem to respond well to this drug-free way to help treat anxiety and stress.

The Doctor’s Remedy: Biofeedback for Stress      

What the Doctor Says: Biofeedback devices typically weigh only a couple of ounces and look something like an iPod. Pressing your thumb to sensors on the devices allows them to take your pulse and measure changes in your heart rate. The devices then use audible cues, flashing lights and graphics to guide you to breathe in a way that has a calming effect.  Dr. Rosen prefers using the emWave brand of biofeedback devices, which he says helps his nervous patients relax before operations….MORE

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