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8 Minute Meditation for Stress Relief

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Recall that your body, spirit, and mind are all interacting in a dance of life. Your emotions are very influential in the quality of your mental and physical health and efficiency. Some emotional aspects of your personality—such as a caring or loving nature, a high level of self-esteem, and a feeling of being in control of your life (self-efficacy)—are beneficial. Other emotions—such as stress, depression, and loneliness—are detrimental to the quality of your life at any age. The following assessment may help you identify how you are dealing with the highs and lows of life.

Mental-State Assessment

Ask yourself the following questions. The key to this miniquiz is prolonged symptoms. When you answer "yes" to any of these, be certain that the situation is characteristic for you for a period of more than two weeks.

1. _Do you feel sad most of the time for long peri ods of time?

2. _Are you irritable, and do you stay that way for more than two weeks?

3. _Has your weight increased or decreased with out that being your intention?

4. _Have you experienced a change in appetite that has lasted more than two weeks?

5. _Are you not enjoying things you used to like to do?

6. _Have you had two weeks of sleepless nights, or are you sleeping more during the day?

7. _Do you find increased difficulty in being able to concentrate or make decisions?

8. _Do thoughts of death occupy your mind?

9. _Have others told you that they think you are behaving differently than usual?

10. _Do you have more than one (women) or two

(men) drinks of alcohol every day?

Count the number of "yes" answers. If you responded "yes" to more than five of these, it is probably a good idea to talk to your doctor about it.

There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of the people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age. — Sophia Loren

Positive creativity has myriad benefits to your well-being. But how can you become creative if you haven't had any practice doing that? Poetry is the answer. There is a simple ancient Japanese art form called the haiku (hi coo). It is characterized by the limitation that it contains exactly 17 syllables. We are proud to introduce Happy Haiku as a positive creative outlet. Happy Haiku also have exactly 17 syllables but must express a positive sentiment. A Happy Haiku from Sharon Mulgrew entitled "Happy Spring" follows.

One cherry blossom on tree full of buds, "Over here ... like me!" Spring Starts

Take the time here to think positive thoughts connected with what you like about the other three seasons. Write a Happy Haiku about each one.

After you do this (If you haven't, go back and give it a really good try!), visit the Web site at www.mentalagility.com to read contributions from other readers. While you are there, submit yours as well.

All you need to do to believe in what a positive creative outlook can do for you is to look at Sophia Loren, arguably the most beautiful woman on earth. We believe that most of her beauty comes from within.

Try each day to determine within yourself to have a positive outlook on life. We all have troubles, stress, and distress that we cannot control. But it is our choice how we react. By reading the next sections, you will see why it is beneficial to your mental health and agility, as well as your physical health, to promote a positive outlook on life.

Stress

Although stress is not an inescapable result of aging, most individuals suffer from some form of stress at various times of their lives. Losing a job; the loss of loved ones to death, divorce, or a debilitating illness; a decrease in safety and support structures in neighborhoods; a lack of transportation;

and a loss of independence are all stressful situations. Even happy situations, such as the birth of a baby, buying a new home, or planning parties, can be stressful.

Qualities that help people deal with stress in a positive manner are flexibility, adaptability, and a sense of humor. Also critical to the reduction of stress is a support system of people with whom you can share your distress. The ability to find meaning in stressful situations as well as just handling the problem are part of the wisdom we acquire as we age, and that experience helps us put stressful situations into perspective.18 All these qualities and abilities reduce the negative effects of stress on our body, mind, and spirit. Neu-roscientists are "convinced that people who overreact to stress lead shorter lives and are more susceptible to accelerated brain and nervous system disease."19

"A man 90 years old was asked to what he attributed his longevity. 'I reckon,' he said, with a twinkle in his eye, 'it's because most nights I went to bed and slept when I should have sat up and worried.'" — Dorothea Kent

Stress triggers the release of hydrocortisone, which can assist you in a "fight or flight" situation by sharpening your reflexes, raising your heart rate, and preparing you to defend your life. Short-term stresses such as traffic jams or disagreements with a spouse do not seem to have long-term effects. However, long-term stressful situations such as abuse or serving in wartime situations can create permanent effects that continue years later. Months and years of elevated hydrocortisone levels can cause the hippocampus to shrink. One estimate is a 25 percent loss in mass. As Robert Sapolsky said, "This is like reporting that an emotional trauma eliminates one of the four chambers of the heart."20 Remember that the hippocampus is essential to your abilities to concentrate, as well as to store and recall information.

Many people who are stressed lose their appetite and lose weight or eat compulsively and gain weight; as a result,

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Coping With Stress In The 21st Century

Coping With Stress In The 21st Century

Controlling Your Mind And Your Destiny. In these books, you will learn all about: How to Deal with Stress and Cope in the 21st Century. Generating the Proper Mindset for Health and Fitness Programs. How to Eat Right and Manage Your Life. How to Live an Optimal Life and Much MORE.

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