The Eastern practice of yoga has become a modern-day symbol of peace, serenity and well-being in the West. More than 20 million Americans practice yoga, according to the 2012 Yoga in America study, with practitioners spending more than $10 billion a year on yoga-related products and classes.
The mind-body practice is frequently touted for its ability to reduce stress and boost well-being, but it also offers wide-ranging physical health benefits that rival other forms of exercise. While thescientific research on yoga’s health benefits is still young, here’s what we know so far about its potential effects on the body. Continue reading…
A prolonged exposure to high stress levels can damage the brain and hamper good cognitive functioning. As part of a brain-healthy lifestyle, it’s essential to manage stress efficiently and effectively. What can you do when you realize that you are stressed? More importantly, what can you do to build resilience so you can go through difficult situations without feeling too much stress?
Here are six research-based lifestyle solutions that can be used to fight stress and build resilience: Continue reading…
I now know why I gained more than 30 pounds in my early 20s: I was lonely. I had left my beloved alma mater upstate for graduate school and a job in the Upper Midwest. I knew no one and felt like a fish out of water.
I filled my lonely nights and days with — you guessed it — food. Anything I could get my hands on, especially candy, cookies and ice cream. Food filled the hole in my soul, at least temporarily.
No matter how hard I tried, I could not rein in my out-of-control eating until I returned to New York and my family, and began dating my future husband.
Loneliness, says John T. Cacioppo, an award-winning psychologist at the University of Chicago, undermines people’s ability to self-regulate. In one experiment he cites, participants made to feel socially disconnected ate many more cookies than those made to feel socially accepted. In a real-life study of middle-aged and older adults in the Chicago area, Dr. Cacioppo and colleagues found that those who scored high on the U.C.L.A. Loneliness Scale, a widely used psychological assessment, ate substantially more fatty foods than those who scored low. “Is it any wonder that we turn to ice cream or other fatty foods when we’re sitting at home feeling all alone in the world?” Dr. Cacioppo said in his well-documented book, “Loneliness,” writtenwith William Patrick. “We want to soothe the pain we feel by mainlining sugar and fat content to the pleasure centers of the brain, and absent of self-control, we go right at it.” Continue reading…
Scientists have known for some time that the human brain’s ability to stay calm and focused is limited and can be overwhelmed by the constant noise and hectic, jangling demands of city living, sometimes resulting in a condition informally known as brain fatigue.
With brain fatigue, you are easily distracted, forgetful and mentally flighty — or, in other words, me.
But an innovative new study from Scotland suggests that you can ease brain fatigue simply by strolling through a leafy park. Continue reading…
From time to time, I like to post reminders to myself. This past year was extremely stressful, but I’m hoping this year is better! In any case, I think the few tips below are helpful.
In tough situations, with fires ablaze, certain strengths have the tendency to become weaknesses. For example, under stress, a natural and healthy tendency toward neatness and organization can turn compulsive. Smart people with great questions can become ruthless interrogators. Those who take pride in their laser-like focus can become too micro and miss the big picture.
When handled improperly, stress acts like kryptonite. It causes your superpowers to turn against you; and, if you’re not careful, your stress can defeat you. While you can’t avoid stress, you can calibrate your reaction to it: Continue reading…
I learned some of this at MARC (at UCLA) and found it fascinating.
Neuroplasticity is visited in this video. I often post about neuroplasticity and how that concept allows us to understand that we can heal and change our health and wellbeing by changing our brains.
Neuroscientist Sara Lazar’s amazing brain scans show meditation can actually change the size of key regions of our brain, improving our memory and making us more empathetic, compassionate, and resilient under stress.
Your home – whether big, small or somewhere in between – should be your sanctuary, a place where stress is left at the door and your soul is nurtured. For a more comforting environment, gradually implement the following changes in your home:
Bring the outdoors in. Green plants, cut flowers and blooming bulbs, pieces of wood, rocks and other organic elements can create a feeling of nature indoors.
Paint a room to suggest a mood. For instance, blue and green promote a relaxed feeling and may be good choices for the bedroom, while warm colors (maroon, coral, burgundy) suggest a cozy environment and may be inviting in a family room.
Surround your senses with beauty. Artwork, fragrance, smooth textures and calming sounds all provide a pleasant environment in which to relax.
Set aside a room or area for peace and calm. A place for spiritual reflection and meditation can provide shelter from noise and distraction.
Clean out clutter. A low-maintenance home is refreshing after a day of hectic meetings, errands and chores. Fewer items can mean less frustration.
Create an atmosphere of love. Display handmade or meaningful gifts from loved ones and photos of family and friends.