7 ways to reduce stress and keep blood pressure down

When it comes to preventing and treating high blood pressure, one often-overlooked strategy is managing stress. If you often find yourself tense and on-edge, try these seven ways to reduce stress.

  1. Get enough sleep. Inadequate or poor-quality sleep can negatively affect your mood, mental alertness, energy level, and physical health.
  2. Learn relaxation techniques. Meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, deep breathing exercises, and yoga are powerful relaxation techniques and stress-busters.
  3. Strengthen your social network. Connect with others by taking a class, joining an organization, or participating in a support group.
  4. Hone your time-management skills. The more efficiently you can juggle work and family demands, the lower your stress level.
  5. Try to resolve stressful situations if you can. Don’t let stressful situations fester. Hold family problem-solving sessions and use negotiation skills at home and at work.
  6. Nurture yourself. Treat yourself to a massage. Truly savor an experience: for example, eat slowly and really focus on the taste and sensations of each bite. Take a walk or a nap, or listen to your favorite music.
  7. Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your spouse, friends, and neighbors. If stress and anxiety persist, talk to your doctor.

Along with these ways to reduce stress, add in a healthy lifestyle — maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, regular exercise, and a diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthful fats — and high blood pressure could be a thing of the past.

For more information on lifestyle changes to treat high blood pressure and how to choose the right medication if needed, read Controlling Your Blood Pressure, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

Building Foundations to Survive the Stressful Seasons of Life

Through all the seasons of life it is important to nurture our emotional and physical health. It is natural to become reactive or default to bad habits during a busy or trying time. Staying healthy does not need to be complicated. When life gets difficult with work stress, a family member not being well or overwhelming deadlines to meet, use these four foundations as a blueprint to enable you to build resilience or to help get you back on track.

1. Nutrition  When we are busy it is easy to grab processed foods or fast foods that lack the nutrients that we need to thrive. It is important to eat real food. Food is information for our body, and we need to fuel our body and mind so that we can accomplish more. Make sure most of your diet includes nutrient-dense foods that let you accomplish more with less.  Make sure each meal and snack packs as much benefit as possible. It is very important to stay hydrated. To keep it simple, always have a bottle of water with you and aim for 8 glasses of water per day.

Unhealthy convenience foods contribute to additional stress. Unstable blood sugar levels caused by processed, high carbohydrate foods increase stress hormones in our body and can also cause changes in our mood. It is important to incorporate healthy fats and lean protein into each meal and snack to keep our blood sugar in balance.  Aim for five different vegetables per day. Try to incorporate the different colors of the rainbow into your fruit and vegetable choices.

One of the best things you can do is prepare snacks and meals for the day. Grocery shop wisely and focus on the whole, natural foods in the outer sections of the store. Have healthy snacks available such as berries and walnuts, celery and almond butter or baby carrots and hummus. Purchase snack size packets of nuts and seeds. There are also many companies that deliver home-cooked meal kits or meals ready to eat. When only fast-food or restaurant food will do choose healthy options. To play it safe, stick to grilled instead of fried food and choose side dishes such as fruits, soups and salads. Whether you are dining out or eating in, it is important to maintain a balanced diet. Make sure you are getting a good mix of lean protein, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains.

2. Stress Management  Stress has been proven to have serious effects on our bodies and minds. Some seasons of life bring us more stress than others. It is important to practice self-care regularly. If you take care of your mind and body, you’ll find you are more productive and have more energy throughout the day. We can’t always change our commutes, deadlines, and pressures but there are actionable strategies that we can put into practice.

  • We can turn on the stress response and create the hormones of stress just by thinking about our problems. Trade emotions like fear, worry, or overwhelm for elevated, heart-centered emotions like gratitude, appreciation, or joy to create a cascade of healing hormones.  
  • Keep a gratitude journal or start your day with a mental list of five things you are grateful for. If you can only think of one thing to be thankful for – begin with that – and repeat.
  • Incorporate a daily practice of stillness. Calm your mind and body and reconnect with the present moment with focused breathing. Focus on a soothing image, a positive word or prayer. Find even five minutes a day to meditate or to listen to your favorite music.
  • Carve out 15 minutes of “me time” each day. No phones, emails, or deadlines. This time is just for you.
  • Learn to say ‘no’. Having too much to do and too little time is a common cause of stress. Are there things that can be delegated to others or completed at a later date?
  • Spend time with friends and family. If you want to be happy and healthy, relationships are very important.

3. Sleep  Actively prioritize sleep. There are too many distractions and things competing for our attention that keep us awake. When we do not sleep well, we crave comfort foods and lack the energy to exercise. When we are sleep deprived our mood is affected and we are more reactive. Incorporating a relaxing bedtime routine can be transformative. Dim the lights and quiet your mood. Turn off all technology and the television at least 30-minutes (90-minutes would be best) before sleep. The blue-light emitted from these devises can suppress your melatonin production and affect your sleep and health. Try to maintain a consistent bed-time schedule.

4. Movement  Build movement into your everyday life. Rather than let stress build up, incorporate 10-minute or 15-minute walks into your day to buffer the effects of stress. Physical activity will increase your energy levels, improve your health and boost your mood.  If a trip to the gym doesn’t work with your schedule, fit stretches and muscle-building exercises into 5 or 10-minute intervals during your day. You can fit in a “kitchen workout” while your dinner is baking or an “office workout” for the first few minutes of your lunch break.  Make a habit of doing little things throughout the day that build up to 30 minutes of exercise. Keep your body strong and build resilience so that you will have the reserve to handle unexpected challenges and they will not deplete you.

Finding balance in these four foundational areas can make a huge difference for your mood, energy, outlook on life and how well you can handle stress. Develop good habits and when you lose your focus just get back on track. When you start to feel drained, irritable and less focused, it’s time to listen to yourself and your body. Maybe you need to go to bed an hour earlier next week and that will do it. Maybe you need more protein in your breakfast meal for sustained energy in your day. Perhaps you will find that a one-hour yoga class per week could restore and rejuvenate you. It’s the little things you do in your life day by day that can make a master change in your health and happiness.

-Diane Duvall, Life Coach and Certified Health Coach for the Lifestyle Medicine Practice of Dr. Geni Abraham, Board Certified, American Board of Internal Medicine.  Our Internal Medicine Practice is an integrated medical practice with a focus on Lifestyle Medicine. We offer health coaching sessions to help you reach your personal goals. Dr. Geni Abraham, Medical Specialists of the Palm Beaches, Inc., 205 JFK Drive, Suite A, Atlantis FL 33462. Phone: (561) 432-8935, Visit DrGeniAbraham.com and Follow us on Facebook                                                     

Taking Care of Your Heart

February is American Heart Month. This is a great time to focus on steps we can take to keep our heart healthy and prevent heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, but a heart-healthy lifestyle can go a long way to prevent heart disease. Medical conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes can increase your risk of heart disease. Make sure you are working with your doctor and incorporating healthy lifestyle practices to treat these conditions.  Our day to day lifestyle choices directly impact our heart’s health. Research shows that making healthy lifestyle changes, even later in life, may stop and actually reverse heart damage.

A healthy diet is one of the best weapons you have to fight heart disease.  The food you eat (and the amount) can affect other risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and being overweight. Choose nutrient-rich foods instead of nutrient-poor foods. The Mediterranean diet is a heart-healthy eating plan that is high in fresh fruits and vegetables (variety of color), lean protein, healthy oils (Extra virgin olive oil), whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.  Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease.

This healthy diet includes:

  • Eating fish and poultry at least twice per week and limiting red meat to no more than a few times per month.
  • Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods.
  • Avoiding hydrogenated oils (trans fats) which are found in fried foods and processed foods such as pies, cookies, pastries, donuts and frozen food.
  • Limiting refined sugars and carbohydrates such as white bread and white rice.
  • Sticking with water as your beverage of choice is best, as there is no benefit to adding sugary drinks.
  • Focusing on whole, natural foods and eating lots of vegetables.
  • For dessert, eating fresh fruit and saving sweets for a special treat or celebration.
  • Taking time to savor your food and enjoy your meals with family and friends.  

Regular exercise is one of the most effective tools to strengthen the heart muscle and reduce the risk of heart disease. Your heart will get stronger and healthier if you lead an active life. Regular exercise has many benefits including: burning calories, lowering blood pressure, reducing “bad” cholesterol and boosting “good” cholesterol. Aim to do aerobic exercise (“cardio”) for thirty minutes, five to six times per week.  Some examples include walking, jogging, biking, swimming or dancing. To check your intensity and make sure you are not pushing too hard, you should be able to talk but you shouldn’t be able to sing a full song. Find activities that you enjoy and start small. You can even break up your exercise sessions into 10-minute intervals. In addition, you should include strength training twice per week to build muscle and reduce body fat. To maintain flexibility, be sure to include stretching exercises (such as yoga) weekly as well. For ongoing encouragement, use an app on your phone or a wrist band that provides input on how many daily steps you have taken. Talk with your doctor before making any changes to your current exercise routine.

Focus on rest and relaxation. The effects of stress can have a direct impact on your body and can harm your heart. It’s important to have healthy habits in place to help in preventing and managing stress. When we feel stressed, we often reach for unhealthy habits to find relief, such as drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes or overeating. These unhealthy habits lead to other factors that may contribute to damaging your heart by increasing blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar.  Find hobbies and activities you enjoy, stay social and engage with friends and family. Stay positive and ponder uplifting thoughts about the future, as optimism is good for your heart. Dedicate a certain time each day to focus on your body and relaxing. Practice stress reduction techniques and exercises such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga and tai chi. Getting a good night’s sleep is important for a healthy heart. Aim for seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night. Create a nightly routine to unwind and relax before bed and stick with the same sleep schedule, even on the weekends.

Working with your doctor is essential to managing your health effectively. Staying proactive with your lifestyle choices will have a positive impact on your heart and overall health.

-Diane Duvall, CLC, CHHC, CPT

Diane Duvall is a Life Coach and Certified Health Coach for the Lifestyle Medicine Practice of Dr. Geni Abraham, Board Certified, American Board of Internal Medicine.  Our Internal Medicine Practice is an integrated medical practice with a focus on Lifestyle Medicine to prevent chronic disease and promote health and wellness. We offer health coaching sessions to help you reach your personal goals. Dr. Geni Abraham, Medical Specialists of the Palm Beaches, Inc., 205 JFK Drive, Suite A, Atlantis FL 33462.  Phone: (561) 432-8935 Visit DrGeniAbraham.com and Follow us on Facebook

Simple Daily Habits for Reducing Stress

Stressors, good and bad, are a part of everyday living. Extreme stressors, such as the loss of a loved one, can obviously impact our health. But the ongoing, daily stressors that we face on a regular basis also put a strain on the body’s ability to function properly. According to the American Institute of Stress, up to 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are due to stress related problems. While we cannot completely avoid stress, there are effective ways to manage how much we are affected by stress. 

Incorporate these simple daily habits to start living a lower-stress lifestyle.

Practice Positive Thinking 

It’s not the event or circumstance that determines whether we are stressed, but how we respond to those events. It’s how we feel or think about the event that determines our stress levels.  It is important to choose a positive mindset and challenge negative thoughts. It can be helpful to practice relaxation techniques while focusing on positive emotions such as appreciation and gratitude.  This can be as simple as breathing deeply while you focus on things that you are grateful for.  Emotions, or feelings have a powerful impact on our bodies. Practice maintaining a positive focus to reduce the effects of stress. Make sure to stay connected with friends and family and engage in activities that inspire you to smile, laugh and think positively.

Exercise

Incorporate 10-30 minutes of moderate activity into your daily schedule to reduce stress. Exercise reduces the levels of our body’s stress hormones, and it increases production of chemicals that elevate mood. Medical studies show that exercise dramatically reduces depression and anxiety.  Even one session of exercise can improve your mood.  Find an activity that you enjoy. Include walking in nature, swimming, group fitness, biking, tennis, etc. Regularly practicing yoga can be a great way to reduce stress and restore your sense of well-being.  Yoga can increase strength, flexibility and your ability to relax.

Get Quality Sleep

Sleep restores health and vitality to your mind and body.  Inadequate sleep can cause irritability and stress. Getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night not only leaves you more energized and better prepared to deal with stress, but it also lowers your risk for many diseases. Consistently maintain regular bedtime and wake-up hours. If you have trouble relaxing, try herbal aids such as valerian, passionflower, lavender oil, lemon balm or chamomile.  Avoid caffeine consumption (tea, cola, coffee, chocolate) within 4 to 8 hours of bedtime.  Reduce stress and prepare for a great night’s sleep with a relaxing bedtime routine (book, meditative music, bath, relaxation technique).

Mind/Body Relaxation Techniques

The state of relaxation is linked to higher levels of feel-good chemicals such as serotonin and the growth hormone which repairs cells and tissue. Relaxation is a state of rest, enjoyment and physical renewal.  Harvard researchers have found that yoga, meditation, prayer and guided imagery all induce the relaxation effect.  Meditation can be as simple as letting tension go as you focus on your breathing.  If your mind wanders, return to your breath. Guided imagery is a type of meditation utilizing your imagination to visualize yourself in a peaceful setting where tension is washed away from your body and mind.  Practice one or more of these techniques even 5 to 10 minutes a day to offset the stress response with the healing power of relaxation.  Do you ever find yourself in the midst of a stressful situation? Deep breathing, where you fill your abdomen and expand your diaphragm downward, is one of the most powerful exercises you can do to quickly de-stress. Breathe long, slow and deep in a mindful-state as often as possible. As a powerful daily practice, deep breathing will advance your health and well-being. You can also unwind by enjoying a massage or practicing progressive muscle relaxation (an exercise that involves tensing and relaxing muscle groups throughout your entire body) to relieve stress and release muscular tension.

Eat a Balanced Diet

A good diet will help prepare your body for daily stress. An unhealthy diet will only make you feel sluggish and less able to deal with life’s everyday demands. Reduce processed foods containing high sugar, saturated fat and salt. Enjoy a variety of fruits, vegetables, quality fats, nuts, whole grains, legumes, and lean protein. Take time to enjoy your food and eat without rushing.

You don’t need to devote hours to stress relief every day. Just practice these simple habits on a regular basis and enjoy a more positive, fulfilling life.

-Diane Duvall, CLC, CHHC, CPT

Diane Duvall is a Life Coach and Certified Health Coach for the Lifestyle Medicine Practice of Dr. Geni Abraham, Board Certified, American Board of Internal Medicine.  Our Internal Medicine Practice is an integrated medical practice with a focus on Lifestyle Medicine to prevent chronic disease and promote health and wellness. We offer health coaching sessions to help you reach your personal goals. Dr. Geni Abraham, Medical Specialists of the Palm Beaches, Inc., 205 JFK Drive, Suite A, Atlantis FL 33462.  Phone: (561) 432-8935 Visit DrGeniAbraham.com and Follow us on Facebook

Finding Freedom from Emotional Eating


Stress and a hectic lifestyle can affect our eating patterns and food choices.  The stress hormone cortisol increases appetite and may ramp up the motivation to eat. This can make you crave “bad” carbohydrates which will give you an energy boost followed by a crash. This will leave you hungry for more foods like sweets and fatty, salty foods. This vicious cycle can lead to mindlessly overeating and eating when you are not even hungry.  

Try these suggestions to break the stress eating cycle:

Break the cycle, don’t feed emotions with junk food. High-carb, high-fat foods trigger the brain’s feel good response, so over time we start to rely on these foods to find emotional relief.  Unfortunately, the long-term result of this habit of eating leads to more emotional distress and chronic health issues. 

It may be time to replace your current eating rituals.  If a certain time of day or certain emotions such as overwhelm, sadness, frustration or boredom trigger food cravings, try to replace that automatic response with something else.  Practice deep breathing, enjoy a cup of green or herbal tea, or recharge your body with a brisk walk or some relaxing stretches.  Take a pause and become mindful of your true needs. Automatic urges will subside when you take a minute to focus on your true desires.  Take a breath and focus on your future.  If your true goal is peace, a smaller waist, a healthy heart, or just looking and feeling your best everyday…  what is a better choice to get you there?

Find ways to relieve stress and balance your emotions without overeating.  The practice of meditation reduces stress and helps you become more aware of everything you do.  The practice can be as simple as taking just a few minutes each day to sit comfortably, tune into your breath, and let tension go with each exhalation. When you notice your mind wandering just return to your breath. Through mindfulness practices such as meditation we become more aware of internal messages and listening to our body. We can then understand when we are truly hungry and the foods that will nourish our body rather than eating on autopilot or because we feel anxious, sad, lonely or bored.

Exercise is meditation in motion. Regular exercise can reduce depression and anxiety, increase self-confidence, and relax you.  Even one session of exercise can improve your mood. Consider adding yoga or tai chi which directly combines the elements of exercise and meditation.

Make sure you are getting adequate sleep.  Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.  Lack of sleep affects appetite regulation and increases stress on your mind and body. Allow time to unwind before bed with a bedtime ritual that could include things such as reading a good novel, relaxing with a cup of chamomile tea, or enjoying a lavender and Epsom salt bath or foot soak.

Through practicing mindfulness, we will have improved health and sleep.  Mindfulness is about calmly accepting the present moment, and it leads to a state of balance. It means maintaining a moment by moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and our surrounding environment through a gentle, nurturing lens.

Nourish your body with whole foods. Consume adequate amounts of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates during each meal and snack.  This ensures you stay satiated and balances blood sugar levels.  Generally, this means choosing whole foods such as nuts, whole grains, raw vegetables and fruits. Avoid foods that are packaged, high in sugar, or fried.  One of the fastest ways to calm unhealthy food cravings is by eating protein.  Protein helps curb your hunger longer and won’t give you the crash that sweetened and refined foods do.

Find new comfort foods. Do not stock your kitchen with your favorite indulgence foods, the unhealthy foods you crave in times of stress. Discover healthier versions of the foods you crave and keep them on hand. If you have a craving for soda, replace this with fruit-infused mineral water.  If you crave cookies or ice cream replace this with berries and cream or an apple with nut butter.  Your taste buds will adapt, and these new comfort foods will leave you feeling satisfied and energized.

Be kind to yourself. Find ways to incorporate mindfulness practices and relaxation into your daily routine. Learn to recognize true hunger and satisfy yourself with whole, nourishing foods. These suggestions will not only help you manage stress better but will also reduce your risk for chronic disease.

-Diane Duvall, CLC, CHHC, CPT

Diane Duvall is a Life Coach and Certified Health Coach for the Lifestyle Medicine Practice of Dr. Geni Abraham, Board Certified, American Board of Internal Medicine.  Our Internal Medicine Practices an integrated medical practice with a focus on Lifestyle Medicine to prevent chronic disease and promote health and wellness. We offer health coaching sessions to help you reach your personal goals. Dr. Geni Abraham, Medical Specialists of the Palm Beaches, Inc., 205 JFK Drive,Suite A, Atlantis FL 33462.  Phone: 561) 432-8935 Visit DrGeniAbraham.com and Follow us on Facebook

Take Care of Yourself This Holiday Season

The holidays are such a joyful time of year.  The season is filled with festive parties, decorated malls and coffee shops brimming with the scent of pumpkin spice.  Make a plan now to prioritize self-care and stay focused on all you have to be grateful for during this season. By planning ahead and staying focused you can avoid the overwhelm that many of us feel during this busy time of the year.

Don’t wait until the last minute.  Plan ahead for the expenses of the season.  Writing down your financial goals for the season will help you avoid overspending.  Keep track of your spending regarding things such as decorations, gifts, travel and meals.

Eat well to feel good.  Stay focused on eating whole, natural foods.  Enjoy the holiday festivities but always fill your plate with vegetables first and enjoy your favorite foods – just in smaller portions.

Make a list. The holiday season is a wonderful time to enjoy gatherings with family and friends.  Have a planner or appointment book to organize all of your to-do’s and events to keep you on track and on time.  As your appointment book fills up you will have to choose what events and tasks are most important to you.  Sometimes having to say ‘no’ is an important part of self-care.

Holiday Self-Care Checklist:

  • Take a walk in nature
  • Incorporate relaxing essential oils
  • Get quality sleep
  • Have a home spa day
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Declutter an area in your home
  • Be grateful & practice positive thinking
  • Plan something fun for yourself
  • Get connected with friends & family
  • Lighten your spirit with laughter
  • Watch your favorite movie
  • Do yoga or stretch at night
  • Enjoy a relaxing cup of tea
  • Listen to music
  • Stick with your exercise plan
  • Indulge in moderation
  • Practice Deep Breathing

 

-Diane Duvall, CLC, CHHC, CPT

Diane Duvall is a Life Coach and Certified Health Coach for the Lifestyle Medicine Practice of Dr. Geni Abraham, Board Certified, American Board of Internal Medicine.  Our Internal Medicine Practice is an integrated medical practice with a focus on Lifestyle Medicine to prevent chronic disease and promote health and wellness.

Dr. Geni Abraham, Medical Specialists of the Palm Beaches, Inc., 205 JFK Drive, Suite A, Atlantis FL 33462.  Phone: (561) 432-8935 Visit DrGeniAbraham.com and Follow us on Facebook

10 Ways to Increase Your Happiness Every Day

Do you start your day feeling happy and positive about life? Scientific research is showing us that positive thoughts and emotional states have a profound effect on our health and how we perceive, think, feel and perform. We all know that positive emotions feel good – and it’s no wonder since they actually help all of our body’s systems to synchronize and work better.

So how can you cultivate more positive emotions and happiness in your life? Happiness is actually a state of being. It’s an overall sense of well-being, joy or contentment. This kind of true happiness flows through your entire being. It brightens your life. It’s the inner glow that fills your soul, that brings color and light to all your experiences.

Here are ten ways to increase your overall sense of happiness every day:

Choose Happiness. If you don’t like the way you feel you can always choose a better feeling thought or a better response to a situation. Decide how you most want to feel and consciously cultivate those feelings within yourself during your day.

Practice Gratitude. Take time to notice and reflect on things you are grateful for every day. Appreciate even the simple things. The regular practice of gratitude includes such benefits as strengthening the immune system, increasing positive emotions, and helping you feel more alive.

Share a Smile or a Hug. Research has shown that our facial expressions can influence our mood. Even smiling for a brief time can make you feel happy. Hugs balance out the nervous system and stimulate release of the “feel good” hormone, oxytocin. Hugging for an extended time also lifts your serotonin levels, elevating mood and creating happiness. Share a smile and perform small acts of kindness and see how good you feel when you help others.

Replace Worry with Positive Expectation. Anticipate that good things will happen. Imagine the best case scenario that you could experience. Positive expectations can lead to a more positive life. Expect more things to be grateful for and you will attract more things to be grateful for.

Empower Yourself. Keep your thoughts and words positive and uplifting. Write out positive affirmations about yourself and your life. Meditate on your favorite scriptures or inspirational quotes. You can put up post-it notes or write out your quotes on index cards to keep with you. Ask yourself empowering questions. Instead of asking, “Why am I so tired?” ask “Why am I so happy and full of energy?” This will immediately change what your brain focuses on. When you change the question, you change your results. It changes your perspective which will change your actions which will change your life.

Try New Things. Break out of your routine. Start a new hobby, walk down a new street, try that new breakfast café. Plan that weekend getaway to renew and refresh.

Have Things to Look Forward to. Make future plans for things you will enjoy and savor the anticipation. One of the keys to happiness is having something to look forward to. Don’t forget to plan for small pleasures in your day-to-day life. Plan the massage, trying out that new restaurant with a friend or taking that bike ride in the park.

Take a Deep Breath. Deep abdominal breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which guides our body from stress to relaxation. By training yourself to breathe slowly and deeply in a mindful state on a regular basis, you will notice a shift in your energy level, your mental clarity and overall well-being.

Strengthen Your Relationships. Many research studies have shown that satisfying relationships are associated with better health, greater happiness and even a longer life. This effect is not limited to romantic relationships. Close friendships and social connections with family and the community can also help your health and happiness.

Care for Your Body. Nourish yourself with whole foods, water and sufficient sleep. Be sure to include plenty of physical activity and exercise. Exercise has been shown to increase happiness in many ways. Exercise helps to clear your mind, reduce stress and increases the release of the feel-good chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins trigger positive feelings and can be accompanied by a more energizing outlook on life.

Do something nice for yourself today. The true key to happiness is in doing your best to create joy in as many moments as you can.

Diane Duvall, CLC, CHHC, CPT

Diane Duvall is a Life Coach and Certified Health Coach for the Lifestyle Medicine Practice of Dr. Geni Abraham, M.D., Board Certified, American Board of Internal Medicine. Our Internal Medicine Practice is an integrated medical practice with a focus on Lifestyle Medicine to prevent chronic disease and promote health and wellness.

 

Dr. Geni Abraham, Medical Specialists of the Palm Beaches, Inc., 205 JFK Drive, Suite A, Atlantis FL 33462. Phone: (561) 432-8935

Visit DrGeniAbraham.com and Follow us on Facebook

Stress Management Means Better Health

Managing stress is a very important aspect in our road to good health.  We are so overwhelmed with our frenzied lives that we don’t stop for a moment and take a deep breath and clear our minds.  We find it difficult to make positive steps because our minds are overwhelmed and overstressed and in a tizzy.  It is hard to see a way forward when we are running in circles looking at everything that must be handled in our hectic lives.  The upcoming holiday season adds to the load in so many different ways. This chronic stress promotes a chemical environment in our bodies that promote disease or at the very least we are ill at ease.  When this frenzied state is a permanent part of lives it has a long term negative impact physically, mentally and even spiritually. We exhaust our reserves.

So how do we manage our stress?

All the previous letters I sent are part and parcel of stress management.  Eating right, exercise, sleep management and time management all have a positive impact on our bodies.  Conversely, not paying attention to these matters have a negative impact.

The question is, where do we start?

Let me make some suggestions…

  1. Take a deep breath.  Step back and identify the problem at hand.  Then look for a solution and move forward.  Taking that few extra seconds is always helpful.  I use this technique all the time when I am dealing with stressful patients.
  1. Practice deep breathing. I advise my patients to take deep breaths at least 5 times every 1-2 hours.  We don’t realize how quick and shallow our breathing gets when we are stressed.  We send signals to our brain that we are in danger even though we are not and our bodies go into the classic fight or flight mode.  The stress hormones rev up. In contrast deep breathing signals peaceful surroundings and no danger and thus sends positive signals.  There are a lot of smart phone apps that can be helpful to walk you through this practice.
  1. Mindful meditation. Controlling your thoughts and bringing it in line with your values is very important.  After all, we are what we think. Clearing your mind of negative thoughts and feelings and replacing them with positive outcomes of where you want to be in life is an important way to get our stress under control.  There are different techniques that are out there that you can try.   If one does not work then try something else.  There are many also many smart phone apps that can help with this practice too.
  1. Make a list. We are the sum of many parts and each area in our lives require actions to support it.  For example I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, doctor, employer, church elder, etc…  Likewise all of you have many roles.  There was a time when I was overwhelmed by it all.  Then I started making lists under different categories.  For example: personal health, family, home, work, church.  Then I listed items under each category.  Once this list got started I organized them according to priority.  I made appointments for myself to get personal care in.  The tyranny of the urgent got less as I started to work on things in anticipation.  With a lot of time and persistence my life is now in control.  Nothing happens overnight.  You have to take one forward step at a time but you have to do some thinking to know where you are going and what you want to accomplish to get there.  The list never gets shorter but it organizes our mind and this gives a lot of relief to our stressful lives.
  1. Learn to say NO where appropriate.  All things that are good are not necessarily the best or profitable.  Pick things to do that promote the health and well-being of you and your family.
  1. Make a decision to take care of YOU.  Then think of ways to incorporate it into our lives.  Trying to be healthy should not stress you out.  As the new year comes we all resolve to be skinny.  Don’t make that resolution, it is doomed for failure. Instead:
    • Decide to start incorporating healthy foods into your diet, you have been given the right tools.
    • Decide to add exercise into your life, just start with 5 minutes if that’s all you can do.  That is great.  But know eventually where you want to be.
    • Decide that you want to reduce the unwanted clutter in your life whether it is a cluttered life of fruitless activities, cluttered paper and junk in your home or a cluttered mind of negative thoughts.  Whatever it may be start with a small action or idea.

Truth is I can go on and on….

There are many roads to a healthy and beautiful lifestyle that will help us to age gracefully and maintain our functionality.  Pick one idea and build on it and with time a healthy transformed life can be in your future.

That is what I hope and pray for every one of you.  A transformed life that will carry you into the future and help you meet the challenges of life with grace and peace.

Best regards for a healthy future, Dr. Abraham