Diabesity Challenge Tip: Stress Less, Stay Healthy

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Filed Under: Diabetes, Weight Loss, Blood Sugar
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Have you ever wondered why some people exposed to an office of sniffling, sneezing coworkers diabesity challenge tip: stress lessnever get sick, while others seem to succumb to every passing virus? Are they blessed with good luck or good genes, or is there something about their approach to life that makes them immune to things that lay others low?

Well, the answer may lie in a somewhat obscure medical field called psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) that examines the links among emotional state, immune function, and health. PNI researchers study the ways we respond to stress and how these reactions make us more—or less—resistant to illness.

Scientists have discovered that the people rated the happiest and calmest are only a third as likely to catch colds as those rated the least happy and calm. Other research found that newly married couples whose communication style involved sarcasm and insults contracted more respiratory infections than those with more positive ways of communicating.

In addition to negatively impacting immune function, stress is associated with increased levels of cortisol and other stress hormones that have detrimental effects on the brain, immune, and cardiovascular systems, and are even linked to weight gain.

One of the most enjoyable ways to lower your stress level is to cultivate your sense of humor. Researchers at Loma Linda University have conducted a number of studies showing that laughter lowers cortisol levels.

It’s true what they say: Laughter is the best medicine. In addition to reducing stress, it increases circulation, reduces muscular tension, and just plain feels good. It’s impossible to experience genuine humor and feel angry, depressed, or anxious at the same time.

The mere act of smiling also has benefits. You can actually change your mood by changing your body language. Smiling on the outside sends a message to your brain, which releases endorphins, substances that relieve pain and give a sense of pleasure, peace, and well-being. So spice up your life with funny videos, books, and people who make you laugh—and practice “smile therapy” on a daily basis.

And, given that it is Valentine’s Day, I’d like to tell you about a genuinely heartwarming technique for reducing stress and enhancing well-being. Researchers from the Institute of HeartMath taught study volunteers this simple technique called “Heart Lock-In,” then asked them to practice it for four weeks.

At the study’s conclusion, participant’s cortisol levels fell by 23 percent and their DHEA levels increased by 100 percent. They also experienced a significant increase in feelings of caring, vigor, and “warm-heartedness” and a decrease in guilt, hostility, and anxiety.

To do the “Heart Lock-In”, sit or lie in a comfortable position with your eyes closed. Shift your attention to your heart, and imagine that you are actually breathing slowly through your heart. Do this for 10 to 15 seconds. Next, recall someone for whom you feel great love and “lock” that feeling in your heart. As the feeling becomes stronger, imagine it spreading throughout your body or to others in your life. Try to keep your focus on the area around your heart for 10 to 15 minutes. If your mind wanders, bring your attention gently back to the area around your heart.

Stress is an unavoidable fact of life, but how we respond to it is completely within our control. Look for opportunities to laugh, and take time to tune out life’s demands and turn inward. These simple yet powerful techniques will increase your energy, reduce your desire to eat emotionally, and give you greater resilience in the face of stress.

I hope this information helps you as you continue your weight loss journey. Have another great week and keep up with the program…it works!
 

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