As a family physician I give many Wellness talks. These talks cover topics from healthy diet, to exercise, skin care and disease prevention. Over the years one of my favorite seminars has been on stress relief. It has always been my belief that finding happiness and balance in ones life will bring you better health. And finally there is research that proves that happy people live longer. A recent study has shown that individuals that are optimistic and have a greater sense of purpose have a 20% reduction in major illness.
So the next step is how do we make ourselves happy. A 75 year long Harvard study on happiness showed that the key to happiness is love or good relationships. Happiness is doing good for others, doing what you are good at and doing good for yourself- so volunteer , enjoy your work and exercise, eat healthy and avoid alcohol and cigarettes. Each of these things has been shown to increase happiness.
A 2010 study showed that over 10 years for every 1 point increase in positive emotions (out of 5 point scale) it lowered an individual’s risk of heart disease by 22%.To improve your happiness scores and improve your health try some simple steps:
Sleep more – 8 hours of sleep a night
Exercise- 30 min 5 days a week
Get outside-sunlight improves mood
Eat more fish- can reduce depression by 17%
Smile- improves response to stress
Invest time in relationships- loneliness increases risk of death by 26%
When we look at studies on anxiety and stress it becomes obvious that a large amount of the stress comes from how we structure our lives. our schedules are so full there leaves very little time for rest and relaxation. Technology eats up a huge part of our day- television , computer games and social media consume a huge amount of our time and lead to very little happiness. So take an electronic time out for 2 hours a night or for the weekend. Spend time in meaningful conversation, build lasting relationships, embrace nature or exercise and watch your health improve.
Health and Happiness!!
Gratitude can help foster a more positive attitude. Researchers have shown that laughter, losing the negative self talk, and cultivating gratitude can bring about these positive changes.
Sonja Lyubominsky a happiness researcher at UC Riverside found that journaling on gratitude for 6 weeks increased individuals satisfaction with life and Robert Emmons at UC Davis stated that engaging in gratitude exercises like thankyou letters elevates mood.
So start your day with.a list of what you are grateful for and show your appreciation throughout your week. Meditate on your list and watch it grow!!!
Technology overuse has been shown to have many ill affect on children and teens. Current research is revealing an increase in stress related illnesses anxiety and inattention. There are also reports of decreased sensory and motor development . Teens that have heavy use of technology show back pain, obesity, distraction, poor sight and hearing and poor sleep.
as with all things it is important to find a balance. It is important to put technology free space back in our lives. Learn to embrace the quiet. When you stop the steady flow of sensory input from your electronic devices you can see things much clearer. It reminds us to be grateful for all of our blessings. Venture outside to enjoy a tech free day. Reconnect with family and friends and enjoy conversation and laughter.
So Remember keep it simple!
1. Unplug devices
2. Connect to people and nature
4. Embrace gratitude
5. Protect your children by limiting exposure to technology
I remember!!! I will never forget where I was on 9-11. I know that our world changed forever that day. As I sit here today 15 years later I can proudly say “We are still here!” I AM FULL OF GRATITUDE for all of the men and women who fight to keep me safe every day. I am on my knees this morning praying for the 911 victims and families, our military, first responders and anyone who wears a uniform proudly to serve others. We are still free and we kneel united in prayer.
Gardening has been a fantastic stress relief for me. I planted my first garden this spring and it has been a great experience. Studies support the health benefits of gardening. Van den Berg showed in the Journal of Health Psychology 2011 study that people lowered their cortisol (a stress hormone) and reported an improvement in their mood after just 30 minutes of gardening
I have found it so calming. I loved the planning and planting of the seeds. The digging in the dirt allowed me to practice mindfulness. I could enjoy nature, put aside the phone and worries and enjoy the sun, the breeze and the bees. I felt such a sense of accomplishment when the first green shoots started to grow. Then you water, weed and fertilize the new plants and watch them grow. And when I picked the first yellow squash it was like I had struck gold.
So remember gardening as a great way to get healthy, reduce stress and grow healthy vegetables for family and friends!
Health and Happiness
I have really enjoyed our special weekends at the ranch. I really treasure the quiet. It has brought we so much peace. I wake up early and grab a cup of coffee and then head down to the pasture. Connecting again with nature has been a real joy. Watching the ranch come alive is my favorite part of the day. As the sun rises and all the animals start awakening the ranch is filled with birds singing, bees buzzing and the wind rustling the trees. I love the ripples on the pond, the sunlight streaming through the trees, the bright wildflowers growing along the road and the hay swaying in the meadow. I am so grateful for God’s amazing love and peace in his presence. Learning to stop long enough, turn off all the media devices, quiet all the noise in our heads and listen takes some practice. It is in the quiet and the stilling of our thoughts, surrounded by nature, that we can let go of stress and draw closer to Him.
10 Simple Steps to Living Stress Free
1. Spend time with family and friends
2. Exercise regularly
3. Simplify life
4. Focus on accomplishments
5. Don’t dwell on problems, stay positive
6. Avoid alcohol and drugs, decrease caffeine and high fat foods
7. Meditation and prayer
9. Serve others, volunteer
10. SPEND TIME IN NATURE-watch a sunrise, visit a park or gaze at the stars!!!!
I am constantly giving out advice about healthy forms of exercise. I often recommend a walking program for patients who have not had an active lifestyle. Walking is a good aerobic workout and does not require expensive equipment. 10,000 steps a day is a great goal to set for yourself and has been shown to improve health. Another exercise I encourage people to try is yoga. Yoga is a 5000 plus year practice. It combines strengthening and stretching poses with special breathing and meditation. There are many different forms of yoga. It helps to take a beginner class to be taught the poses and breathing. The intensity can vary quite a bit depending on the style of yoga so you want to be sure it matches your fitness level.
Benefits of yoga include improved emotional health; enhanced strength, flexibility and balance; lessened back pain; enhanced fertility; improved cardiac health; eased symptoms of asthma;improved pain from arthritis and even improved sleep. There are many other positive effects to yoga. It is felt that the majority of it’s benefits are achieved by the deep level of relaxation that you can attain by participating in a regular yoga practice.
Yoga should be combined with a good aerobic workout for maximum benefit. You may have to try different forms to find the right one for you. But I encourage you try a Hatha class, it is the most common form of yoga. I have been amazed by the impact on my life that yoga has had. ENJOY!
Health and Happiness
So many patients have come in recently asking for diet advice. It is one of the most common complaints and is shared by men and women and young and old. The American diet is full of all the wrong things. Our lives are so busy and full of stress. I recently reviewed the literature to see which of the popular diets are most effective. Across the board in multiple studies and reviews Weight Watchers was ranked #1. Also in the top 5 were the DASH diet, the Mediterranean diet, TLC Diet and the Dean Ornish diet. It is important to remind people to see their doctors to evaluate for medical problems leading to weight gain; such as thyroid abnormalities and Type 2 Diabetes which requires medication and special diets. Once these problems are ruled out and you are given a clean bill of health you can start a healthy weight loss program. Remember all programs should include a diet program and regular exercise. 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week is recommended. HEALTH AND HAPPINESS
Welcome to healthandwellness.plus. My name is Victoria Smithers MD. I am a family physician outside of Dallas,TX. I own Blue Skies Wellness Seminars and speak regularly about living stress free.