Monday, February 25, 2013

Stress Reducers

It gives you energy, keeps you slim, helps you sleep and calms you down.  What is this miracle potion?  Sex, says the monthly publication, Executive Personal Health Adviser.

Sex hormones promote retention of potassium, sodium, sulfur, chloride and phosphorous – good sources of bodily energy, report Dr. Leonard Haimes and Richard Tyson in their book, How to Triple Your Energy.  Increased sexual activity also increases testosterone levels in men.

Sex can also be viewed as a form of exercise which utilizes most of your muscles and can burn up to 200 calories in 20 minutes, the authors claim.

If you’ve had trouble sleeping lately, the authors maintain that sex is a far safer means of helping you nod off than tranquilizers.  The doctors explain that sleep is achieved because you have “combined an intense period of physical activity and stimulation with feelings of marked contentment and relaxation.”

Sleep.  When relaxation exercises and other techniques have failed to cure a chronic sleep problem, remember: a little psychology can go a long way.

Attributional therapy, that is.  This psychological approach gives the perennially tired the confidence to conquer their sleep disorder without the use of sleep aids, claims Dianne Hales in The Complete Book of Sleep.

The therapy involves concentrating on staying awake instead of trying to fall asleep While it sounds paradoxical, it has merit.

Hales reports that Temple University researchers tested five subjects who were told that their disorder stemmed from a lack of information about their pre-sleep situations.

They were instructed to examine their thoughts before sleep and try to remain awake as long as possible.  They were also warned that falling asleep too soon would mean that essential pre-sleep data would not be obtained.

The results?  One woman, who normally fell asleep only after tossing in bed for more than an hour, nodded off in 5-½ minutes.  And a man who usually took 57 minutes to fall asleep was out in six.

The researches explain that some people don’t view their sleep disorders as isolated events, but think of them as deteriorating conditions.  Consequently, each night produces anxiety about not falling asleep quickly and the problems resulting from lack of rest.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Are You A Workaholic? Part 2

In Part 1 of “Are You A Workaholic?,” which appeared in our blog last Monday, February 11, 2013, Craig T. Norback presented a set of questions to be answered either with yes or no.

If you answered “yes” to between five and ten questions, you, too, must learn to slow down and work more efficiently as you are developing symptoms of workaholism.

You probably don’t have a problem if you answered “yes” to fewer than five questions.  However, Norback adds, even one affirmative answer – if the behavior is compulsively pursued – could be a danger signal that you are driving yourself too hard.  So it’s time to take things easy by controlling your tendency to overwork.

How often do you get a good night’s sleep and exercise?  They are the key to staying on the job and reducing stress.

Successful company executives rarely miss work due to illness, despite long work hours and high pressure positions, says a survey by New York’s Howard – Sloan Associates in their publication, Search.

How do these executives do it?  More than 90% say they exercise 1-10 hours a week, and 95% get at least six hours of sleep a night.  The majority makes a special effort to eat a balanced diet, and 84% are non-smokers.

As a result, only 6% suffer high blood pressure, and 61% say they are in good physical condition.  That translates into coping well with the high levels of stress they encounter on the job.

Self-help groups for stress management? Why not? Such groups beat the stigma of psychotherapy and can be just as effective in training you to kick bad habits, claims Dr. Stephen Lande of Temple University School of Medicine.

Self-help groups can focus on behavior techniques tailored to your needs, so you recognize those factors inducing stress, and train yourself to reduce anxiety levels.

For example, Dr. Lande says you could set a digital alarm watch to beep at specific intervals so relaxation exercises could be practiced for 10-15 minutes to ward off cumulative stress.

(More tips on reducing work-related stress, including important pointers on time management, will appear in future postings on Health Wellness Gems.  Or visit our archive for articles on stress control.)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Are You A Workaholic? Part 1

Studies show that your approach to work and your attitudes during leisure hours can indicate whether you are a “workaholic,” reports The Executive Personal Health Advisor (FH Newsletter Associates Ltd. Florida).

“Experts comment that a workaholic’s compulsive preoccupation with his job doesn’t let him enjoy his time off.  He not only works long hours, but he also drives himself relentlessly at home.  He dislikes vacations and even weekends, and if forced to relax, attempts to organize and structure activity during that time,” says EPHA.

Craig T. Norback, author of Check Yourself Out (Times Books, New York), has designed the following questionnaire to know if you are a workaholic.  Answer yes or no to each of the following questions:
  • Do you always get to work early?
  • Do you usually work late?
  • Do you ever work while eating lunch or taking a coffee break?
  • Do you generally eat lunch in 10-15 minutes?
  • Do you often realize at three o’clock that you’ve forgotten to eat lunch at all?
  • Do you feel that you must finish all the work on your desk before you go home at night?
  • Do you expect others to work as hard as you do?
  • Is there so much work on your desk that you can’t find things?
  • Do you usually take work home?
  • Do you hesitate to delegate work because you think no one else can do it as well as you do?
  • Are you always doing three or four things at once?
  • Do you always accept phone calls, no matter what you’re doing?
  • Are you working in a job that you don’t really enjoy and that isn’t what you originally planned to do?
  • Do you put off taking a vacation?
  • Are you afraid that if you leave to take a vacation everything will fall apart at the office?
  • Do you always hurry when walking and traveling from one place to another?
  • Do you have interests that you don’t have time to pursue and are putting off until retirement?
  • Do you dread retirement because of fear that you won’t know what to do with yourself?
  • Are you ignoring instructions from your doctor to slow down and reduce stress in your life?
  • Do you feel that you could do anything if only you had enough time?

(Next week, we will discuss the implications of your answers to the above questionnaire - J.P.) 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Exercise Improves Your Outlook On Life

As we face 2013, let us know more about what exercise can do for us.

Although the effects of exercise are difficult to measure because they are progressive, new discoveries are being made all the time and the prognosis for exercise looks good.

According to Dr. Samuel Fox, former president of the American College of Cardiology, aerobic exercise – the kind that sustains an elevated heart rate for a period of at least 15 minutes – can improve one’s physical health by:
  • Increasing the number and size of blood vessels for more efficient circulation.
  • Increasing the elasticity of blood vessels, and therefore reducing the chances of their breaking and causing a stroke.
  • Increasing the ability of muscles to pick up, carry and use oxygen.
  • Increasing the efficiency of the heart by making it able to pump more blood with fewer beats.
  • Increasing tolerance to stress by improving outlook on life.
  • Decreasing triglycerides and cholesterol levels in the blood, making it harder for fats to collect inside artery walls.
  • Decreasing the likelihood of clot formation and resulting heart attack.
  • Decreasing blood sugar and the triglycerides that high blood sugar can produce.
  • Decreasing obesity and high blood pressure.
  • Decreasing the production of adrenaline, too much of which can result in damage to artery walls.

Walking: An Exercise For All AgesWalking, without doubt, is easily the easiest and most popular form of exercise.  It is the only exercise that is good for all ages.

In a national survey, reported the U.S. President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, the highest percentage of regular walkers (39.4%) for any group was found among men 65 years of age and older.

Unlike tennis, running, skiing, and other activities that have gained great popularity, walking has been widely practiced as a recreational fitness activity throughout recorded history.

Walking today is riding a wave of popularity that draws its strength from its health-giving qualities.

Let’s walk for a healthier life.