Anxiety zappers that can rescue you from daily stresses By Therese J. Borchard I'm easily overwhelmed. When my kids' exuberant screams reach a decibel level my ears can't tolerate, when Chuck E., the life-size "rat" at the pizza place, starts doing his jig while flashing arcade lights blind me, or when I open my email to find 100 messages--I feel a meltdown coming on. Which is why I came up with seven quick ways to calm myself down. I turn to these when I don't have time to call my mom and hear her tell me, "Everything is going to be fine." They keep me centered and grounded for as long as possible, and they help me relax my body even during those times when screaming kids and dancing life-size rats converge.
1. Walk Away Know your triggers. If a conversation about global warming, consumerism, or the trash crisis in the U.S. is overwhelming you, simply excuse yourself. If you're noise-sensitive and the scene at Toys-R-Us makes you want to throw whistling Elmo and his buddies across the store, tell your kids you need a time-out. (Bring along your husband or a friend so you can leave them safely, if need be.) My great-aunt Gigi knew her trigger points, and if a conversation or setting was getting close to them, she simply put one foot in front of another, and departed.
2. Close Your Eyes Gently let the world disappear, and go within to regain your equilibrium. Ever since my mom came down with blepharospasm (a neurological tick of the eyelid), I've become aware of how important shutting our eyes is to the health of the nervous system. The only treatment available for this disorder is to have surgery that permanently keeps your eyelids open (you need to moisten them with drops, etc.). Such a condition would be living hell for my mom, because in closing her eyes she regains her balance and proper focus. The only time I recommend not using this technique is on the road (if you're driving).
3. Find Some Solitude This can be challenging if you are at work, or at home with kids as creative and energetic as mine. But we all need some private time to let the nervous system regenerate. I must have known this back in college, because I opted for a tiny single room (a nun's closet, quite literally), rather than going in on a larger room with a closet big enough to store my sweaters. When three of my good friends begged me to go in with them on a killer quad, I told them, "Nope. Can't do it. Need my alone time, or else none of you would want to be around me. Trust me."
My senior year I went to the extent of pasting black construction paper on the window above my door so no one would know if I was there, in order to get the hours of solitude that I needed. Be creative. Find your space. Any way you can. Even it involves black construction paper.
4. Go Outside This is a true lifesaver for me. I need to be outside for at least an hour every day to get my sanity fix. Granted, I'm extremely lucky to be able to do so as a stay-at-home mom. But I think I would somehow work it into my schedule even if I had to commute into the city every day. Even if I'm not walking or running or biking or swimming, being outside calms me in a way that hardly anything else can. With an hour of nature, I go from being a bossy, opinionated, angry, cynical, uptight person into a bossy, opinionated, cynical, relaxed person. And that makes the difference between having friends and a husband to have dinner with and a world that tells me to go eat a frozen dinner by myself because they don't want to catch whatever grumpy bug I have.
5. Find Some Water While watching Disney's "Pocahontas" the other day with my daughter Katherine (yes, I do get some of my best insights from cartoons), I observed the sheer joy the main character shows upon paddling down the river, singing about how she is one with the water. It reminded me of how universal the mood effects of water are, and how healing.
On the rainy or snowy days that I can't walk the double stroller over to our local creeks, I do something the global-warming guys say not to; take a long shower, imagining that I am in the middle of a beautiful Hawaiian rain forest. "Water helps in many ways," writes Elaine Aron. "When overaroused, keep drinking it--a big glass of it once an hour. Walk beside some water, look at it, listen to it. Get into some if you can, for a bath or a swim. Hot tubs and hot springs are popular for good reasons."
6. Breathe Deeply Breathing is the foundation of sanity, because it is the way we provide our brain and every other vital organ in our body with the oxygen needed for us to survive. Breathing also eliminates toxins from our systems. Years ago, I learned the "Four Square" method of breathing to reduce anxiety:
1. Breathe in slowly to a count of four. 2. Hold the breath for a count of four. 3. Exhale slowly through pursed lips to a count of four. 4. Rest for a count of four (without taking any breaths). 5. Take two normal breaths. 6. Start over again with number one.
7. Listen to Music Across the ages, music has been used to soothe and relax. During the worst months of my depression, I blared the soundtrack of "The Phantom of the Opera." Pretending to be the phantom with a cape and a mask, I twirled around our living room, swinging my kids in my arms. I belted out every word of "The Music of the Night." "Softly, deftly, music shall caress you, Feel it, hear it, secretly possess you...." The gorgeous song--like all good music--could stroke that tender place within me that words couldn't get to.
A cuppa Joe is good for more than a quick pick- me-up. By Dan Fields Move over, green tea? Recent studies indicate that coffee drinkers are less likely to develop Alzheimer's, colon cancer, and diabetes compared to non-drinkers, and they're also less apt to die from heart disease. To be sure, coffee isn't for everyone: It can cause insomnia, anxiety, and irregular heartbeat in some people, and too much caffeine during pregnancy can increase miscarriage risk. Plus, specialty coffee drinks (like Starbucks Frappuccinos) can be high in calories. But if coffee's your drink of choice, let's look at the many ways that coffee can boost your health. 10 Hidden Health Secrets of Coffee
Avoid Alzheimer's A 2009 study found that people who drank three to five cups of coffee a day at midlife were 65 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer's in their later years, compared to those who drank little or no coffee. Other research suggests that the caffeine in coffee may reduce production of the protein beta-amyloid, deposits of which often form in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.
Curb Cancer Risk The antioxidant compounds in coffee may help prevent several types of cancer. In a Japanese study, women who drank three or more cups of coffee a day had half the risk of developing colon cancer, compared to those who didn't drink coffee. An analysis of 10 studies showed that coffee drinkers have a 41 percent lower risk of liver cancer than coffee abstainers. Other studies have linked coffee consumption with a reduced risk of endometrial, kidney, and oral cancers.
Drinking coffee lowered the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 60 percent in a 2006 study that included people at high risk for the disease. Even former coffee drinkers were less likely to develop the disease than those who never drank it. The antioxidants, minerals, and caffeine in coffee may help keep diabetes at bay by improving glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity.
Reduce Workout Pain Consuming caffeinated coffee an hour before vigorous exercise may help prevent pain while you're working out, suggests a 2009 study of young men. An earlier study of young women found that using caffeine before exercise can cut post-workout pain by nearly 50 percent. The caffeine in coffee may help by blocking the activity of a chemical called adenosine that activates pain receptors in cells.
Guard Against Gout Two studies from 2007 suggest that drinking coffee is protective against gout, a painful, arthritic condition of the joints (most commonly, the big toes). In one study, middle-aged and older men who drank four to five cups of coffee a day were 40 percent less likely to develop gout than those who abstained from the beverage. Decaf also was associated with a modest reduction in risk, suggesting that something other than caffeine is responsible for the beneficial effect. Another study, involving both men and women, found that coffee consumption may lower blood levels of uric acid, a substance linked to gout.
Deter Death from Heart Disease A number of recent studies indicate that coffee drinkers have lower odds of dying from heart disease. For instance, a 2008 study concluded that women who drank two to three cups of coffee per day had a 25 percent lower risk of death from heart disease than those drinking less than a cup a month. The antioxidants in coffee may have several heart-healthy effects, including improving blood vessel function, reducing inflammation, and protecting LDL ("bad") cholesterol from oxidation.
Preserve Your Memory Coffee may help to keep memory sharp, according to a pair of studies from 2007. In one study, older women who drank more than three cups of coffee a day experienced less decline over time on memory tests than those who drank one cup or less a day. Tea drinkers enjoyed similar benefits, so caffeine may be the beneficial component. Another study found that older men who consumed three cups of coffee a day had a slower rate of cognitive decline than those who drank either more or less than this amount.
Several studies have linked coffee drinking with a lower risk of Parkinson's disease. For instance, a 2007 study revealed that people who drank one to four cups of coffee a day cut their chances of developing the neurodegenerative disorder by nearly 50 percent. Scientists believe the caffeine in coffee may help defend against Parkinson's by boosting levels of the brain chemical dopamine.
Sidestep Stones Coffee appears to reduce the risk of both gallstones and kidney stones. In a 2002 study, women who drank at least four cups of coffee a day were 25 percent less likely to need surgery for gallstones than nondrinkers were, and an earlier study showed that coffee drinking lowered gallstone risk in men. The caffeine in coffee may discourage gallstone formation by triggering gallbladder contractions and increasing the flow of bile. As for kidney stones, both regular and decaf coffee have been linked to risk reduction, perhaps simply by increasing urine output.
Say No to Stroke In a 2009 study, women who drank four or more cups of coffee a day had a 20 percent lower risk of stroke, compared to those who had less than one cup a month. Coffee's protective effect was even more pronounced among nonsmokers: For women who had never smoked or had kicked the habit, drinking at least four cups of coffee daily was linked to a 43 percent reduced risk of stroke. As with heart disease, the antioxidants in coffee may offer protection by improving blood vessel function.
Did you know the Ancient Egyptians believed that eating lemons and drinking lemon juice was an effective protection against a variety of poisons, and that recent research has confirmed this belief?
There are many health benefits of lemons that have been known for centuries. The two biggest are lemons’ strong antibacterial, antiviral, and immune-boosting powers and their use as a weight loss aid because lemon juice is a digestive aid and liver cleanser. Lemons contain many substances--notably citric acid, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, bioflavonoids, pectin, and limonene--that promote immunity and fight infection.
These are well-known health facts about lemons. But there’s so much more to this little yellow fruit. Here are 15 that I’ll bet you didn’t know. Whether you use them in the form of juice, teas, drinks, dressing, poultices or in the bath, take advantage of lemons’ natural healing power
Lemon contains citric acid, which can be effective in treating acne. The vitamin C found in citrus fruits is vital for that healthy glowing skin while its alkaline nature kills some types of bacteria known to cause acne. In addition to drinking lemon juice with water first thing in the morning, here are some suggestions on how to prepare a homemade acne treatment using lemon:
· With your finger or a cotton ball, apply fresh lemon juice on acne and leave it overnight. Wash with water the following morning. There may be an uncomfortable sensation of burning at first, but it will soon disappear.
· Mix one part of freshly squeezed lemon juice with an equal part of rose or honey water. Put the mixture on affected areas for at least half an hour. Wash it afterwards with water. This application should be repeated twice daily, ideally in the morning and the evening.
Note: these remedies are safe and natural, but if acne is severe or there are open wounds, consult your doctor first.
Research has shown that lemon balm has a calming effect and therefore may be able to help remove fatigue, exhaustion, dizziness, anxiety, nervousness, and tension. It is also believed that inhaling lemon oil helps in increasing concentration and alertness. It can therefore be used as a room freshener in offices to increase the efficiency of the employees. If you’re feeling tense sprinkle a few drops of lemon balm essential oil (Melissa officinalis) on a handkerchief to inhale.
The proven antibacterial and antiviral properties of lemons can accelerate the healing process in the case of cankers. Mix the juice of freshly squeezed lemon into a glass of lukewarm water and rinse your mouth with this solution; do this three times a day. There may be a burning sensation when the lemon juice comes into contact with the canker, however, the more frequently you use it, the less burning there will be.
Chills and fevers may be due to a variety of causes, but the lemon is always a helpful remedy. Here is a method that can ease symptoms: add the juice of 1 lemon to a cup of hot water with honey and drink at once, then every 2 hours until the fever or chill subsides.
Medical Precautions Note : If you suffer from heartburn, kidney or gall bladder problems or have a citrus allergy consult your doctor before using these remedies or drinking lemon juice. To protect your teeth enamel, wait at least half an hour before brushing your teeth after chewing, drinking or rinsing with lemon juice. Rubbing lemon juice or oil and drinking lemon juice is not suitable for children under the age of 10. Lemons are effective home remedies for a variety of health concerns but in the case of serious illness always consult your doctor first.
When you have a cold, the healing power of lemons works both internally, by supplying urgently required vitamin C to your defense cells, and externally, through the application of its antiviral properties to the virus on the mucous membranes in the nose and throat.
At the first indication of a cold – a runny nose or sore throat –try to give your body as much immune-boosting vitamin C as you can so that the virus is eliminated before it gets a chance to take hold. Drink the freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon in a glass of lukewarm water every 2 hours.
If you have a sore throat, add the juice of 1 lemon and 1 teaspoon (5ml) of sea salt to 1 cup (250ml) lukewarm water. Gargle three times a day for 1 minute to diminish the burning sensation. If it’s a case of tonsillitis, gargle every 2 hours for at least 30 seconds with the freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon. Tilt the head back to allow the antibacterial and antiviral properties of the juice to flow into the back of the throat. You can swallow the juice when you have finished gargling thereby benefiting from an immune-boosting vitamin C shot.
Lemon poultices applied overnight are a good home remedy for corns and calluses. Place a slice of lemon approx 5 mm thick on to the corn, bandage and fasten. Dabbing the affected area with lemon essential oil also helps accelerate the healing process. Take care to only use the undiluted oil on the callused area using a cotton ball or Q- tip, as it is too strong for un-callused skin.
If you suffer from skin infection such as eczema, a lemon wrap may offer relief. Add 8 drops of lemon essential oil to 1 cup (250ml) lukewarm water and 1 tablespoon (15ml) of liquid honey. Honey also has anti-inflammatory effect and strengthens the healing power of lemon.
Soak a linen cloth in the liquid, squeeze out the excess, and gently place the cloth on the affected area for 15 minutes, 2 to 3 times a day. Not only will this ease the infection, it will counter the overwhelming urge to scratch.
Long distance walkers, world travelers, and explorers look upon the lemon as a Godsend. When fatigue sets in, they might suck lemon juice by piercing the top of the fruit with a straw, giving themselves a quick-acting medicine and a lovely refreshment.
Explorers also use lemon for protection against many infections of the tropics. A small amount of lemon juice will quench thirst more effectively than many times the amount of water. Experienced travelers declare that when they add lemon juice to ordinary drinking water, in various localities, it acts as an antiseptic and prevents illness due to allergy to different water supplies.
Lemon oil also seems to be able to stimulate brain activity so whenever you feel tired for no reason or are finding it hard to focus or concentrate, add 4 drops of lemon oil to a water-filled aromatherapy lamp. Alternatively, drink a glass of lemon water every few hours.
Lemons can help freshen breath that has gone sour after consuming certain spices, alcohol, cigarettes, or that is caused by insufficient salivation. To keep breath fresh, thoroughly rinse your mouth several times a day with the freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon in a glass of lukewarm water. Chewing on a lemon slice after every meal will also help.
Garlic and onions have been shown to be effective in the fight against hypertension, and they combine well with the healing power of lemon. Add 3 crushed garlic cloves and 1 chopped onion to 1 quart or cold skimmed or low fat milk or soy milk. Slowly bring to the boil and let it stand for 5 minutes. Pour through a sieve and chill. Add the freshly squeezed juice of 3 lemons and sip throughout the day.
And if you suffer from high cholesterol, don’t forget that the pectin power in lemons along with its other metabolism and circulation boosting nutrients can help lower cholesterol.
If the stinger is still in the skin, take it out with a pair of tweezers. Massage 1 to 2 drops of lemon oil, mixed with 1 teaspoon of honey, into the skin around the bite.
To repel insects, add 20 drops of lemon oil to 1 cup (250ml) of water and spray into the air. It smells great and repels insects at the same time. Another home remedy is to place a cotton ball soaked in lemon oil in your bedroom. If you are sitting outside in the evening, apply lemon scent to skin areas not covered in clothing. Or, add 10 drops of lemon oil to 1 ½ oz of sunflower oil and rub into the skin.
Several studies have found that lemon balm combined with other calming herbs (such as valerian, hops, and chamomile) helps reduce anxiety and promote sleep. In a recent double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 18 healthy volunteers received two separate single doses of a standardized lemon balm extract (300 mg and 600 mg) or placebo for 7 days. The 600 mg dose of lemon balm increased mood and significantly increased calmness and alertness.
Even though it tastes bitter, lemon juice has a powerful alkaline effect in the body and is therefore a natural agent against excess acid, which is in part responsible for rheumatism. Drink the freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon in a glass of lukewarm water 3 times a day and if you experience severe pain add the juice of 2 lemons 3 times a day.
Lemon oil has pain-relieving qualities, so to inhibit inflammation and ease pain, massage the affected area daily with several drops of lemon oil mixed with 1 tablespoon (15ml) jojoba oil.
Lemon oil has vessel-strengthening properties that can help fight varicose and spider veins. For spider veins, take 2 to 3 drops of lemon oil every day and mix in a small bowl with jojoba, avocado or almond oil and massage the affected area.
For varicose veins,add 6 drops of lemon oil to 1 ½ oz (50 ml) wheat germ oil, and 2 drops each of cypress and juniper oil. Use this mixture daily for a gentle massage of the legs from bottom to top, in the direction of the heart. For a vein and vessel-rejuvenating bath add 8 drops of lemon oil to a warm bath. Also add 4 drops of cypress oil blended with 1 tablespoon (15ml) of honey. Soak in the bath for 15 minutes and when you come out, pat your skin dry – don’t rub it.
How the colors on your plate can light the way to health
By Deanna Minich, PhD, CN
Chakras (Sanskrit for "wheels") are subtle centers in the energetic system of a living organism that take in and give out energy. Health is determined by the flow of energy from the 7 chakras into the metabolic network of the body. Blocked chakras, due to emotional, mental, and/or spiritual issues, can restrict energy flow and lead to illness.
Foods—especially foods that share colors with the chakras—carry vibrations that can activate or balance your chakras. Explore this gallery to find out which health conditions are associated with which chakra, and learn how to choose foods to bring your chakras into balance.
Deanna Minich, PhD, CN ( www.foodandspirit.com ), is a nutritionist who sees more to food than calories and macronutrients. She blends cutting-edge nutrition information, quantum physics, and the ancient chakra system to guide others to use foods and eating as tools for spiritual growth and nourishment for the soul. With her latest book, Chakra Foods for Optimum Health , she opens your heart, unravels your intuition, and guides you on a journey to inner and outer bliss with every bite you take!
The root chakra is the home of a stable, slow vibration that enables one to be grounded in the workings of the world on a physical level. A healthy root chakra will promote core feelings of being part of a tribe or community, and it anchors the body in feelings of trust, safety, and protection.
Chakra Colors : Red, black, dark brown, charcoal gray
Health Associations : Responsible for body systems that provide physical structure, allowing for meaningful contact with the Earth: joints, bones, muscle, legs, and feet. Oversees the "boundaries" of the body through an internal and external defense system represented by the immune system and skin . Root Chakra Healing Foods : Protein (especially animal protein), root vegetables, edible and medicinal mushrooms, red-colored foods (apples , pomegranates, etc)
The sacral chakra houses the dynamic, creative force that circulates creativity, sexuality, sensuality, and emotions through all layers of the self. A healthy sacral chakra will assist in wielding and manifesting raw creativity into an external form, including through relationships with another. A healthy sacral chakra allows us to "go with the flow" of life.
Chakra Color : Orange
Health Associations : Responsible for the liquid functions of the body: kidneys, bladder, large intestine. Oversees the "creativity" of the body through the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries, as well as cell division and growth. Sacral Chakra Healing Foods : Fats and oils, fish (especially wild-caught salmon), tropical fruits, seeds, nuts, orange-colored foods (oranges, tangerines, carrots, etc.)
The solar plexus chakra contains fiery, transformative energy that radiates the essence of the self to the outside world, harmonizing the inner and outer environments. A healthy solar plexus chakra will manifest as a brilliant expression of personal power accompanied by balanced energy flow and clear perceptions of life situations.
Chakra Color : Yellow
Health Associations : Responsible for the transformative functions of the body, including the digestive organs: esophagus, stomach, pancreas, small intestines, liver, and gallbladder. Oversees the "energy exchange" of the body through the generation of ATP, the body’s physical currency of energy, which is supplied by cell structures known as mitochondria (often referred to as "powerhouses of the cell"). Solar Plexus Chakra Healing Foods : Carbohydrates (complex), fiber, whole grains, legumes, yellow-colored foods (yellow sweet peppers, yellow lentils, corn, etc.)
The heart chakra emits a loving, compassionate rhythm that translates pure feeling into emotional wisdom, discernment, and kindness. A healthy heart chakra will funnel love into a healing salve for all, including self, others, and the planet.
Chakra Colors : Green, rose, pink
Health Associations : Responsible for the circulatory functions of the body, including the heart, lungs, lymphatic system, and blood vessels. Oversees the "nurturing" functions of the body through the breasts, shoulders, arms, and hands. Heart Chakra Healing Foods : Vegetables (especially cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, cabbage, and leafy greens), sprouts, raw foods, foods rich in chlorophyll, plant compounds like phytoestrogens and phytosterols, any green-colored foods
The throat chakra contains a communicative vibration that resonates truth. This voice acknowledges free will and the senses, and it gives us our ability to make decisions and to surrender to a higher spiritual presence. A healthy throat chakra will serve as the portal to communicate and express the emotions, thoughts, and feelings of the other chakras through sound in a way that is authentic and true.
Chakra Colors : Aquamarine, light blue
Health Associations : Responsible for the sensory apparatus of the body, including the lips, tongue, nose, mouth, and ears, as well as the vehicles of voice and breath like the larynx, pharynx, and throat. Also oversees the "integration" functions of the body through its command of metabolism through the thyroid gland, and through the coordination of the multitude of functions (e.g. chewing, swallowing, breathing, smelling, etc.) occurring in the throat area. Throat Chakra Healing Foods : Seaplants, fruits, juices , soups, sauces, (which bring together different elements like water and earth), and foods from different ethnic groups (The throat chakra encourages variety of foods.)
The third eye chakra is the seat of mystical, intuitive knowing that spirals forth the awareness that we are spiritual beings connected to universal wisdom and truth. A healthy third eye chakra will encourage the path of internal visions and dreams, with the realization that they are Divinely guided and inspired.
Chakra Colors : Indigo, violet
Health Associations : Responsible for hormone function and secretion, sleep/wake cycles, and dreaming. Oversees the "perception" functions of the body through the brain, eyes, and neurotransmitters. Third Eye Chakra Healing Foods : Caffeine, tea, chocolate, spices, wine, purple-red foods (purple potatoes, red onions, blackberries, blueberries, purple grapes, etc.)
The crown chakra is home to the pure essence that connects to All That Is. A healthy crown chakra will manifest as the ability for individuals to be confident in their faith in a Higher Power, higher self, or in a force that is highly intelligent and creative.
Chakra Colors : White, lavender, pastel colors
Health Associations : Responsible for infusing the body with life force, allowing the entire individual to function as a divine creature, intelligent and connected to Spirit. Oversees the "electrical" functions of the body through the central nervous system. Crown Chakra Healing Foods : Since the crown chakra is more "spirit" than "matter," it is not nourished with physical foods in the same way that they feed other chakras, but the crown chakra thrives on the sustenance that comes from sunlight, air, and love.