From the Editor
As we move through the summer months and whatever they bring, vacations, heat, barbecues, family gatherings, I would like to offer you a small collection of information that may facilitate your enjoyment of this season. Here's to your health.
The Relaxation Response
- Breathing slows down
- Heart rate decreases
- Blood returns to extremities
- Muscles loosen
- Hormones return to metabolic equilibrium
Necessary elements to elicit relaxation
- A quiet environment
- An object to dwell upon (candle, mantra, sound, etc).
- A passive attitude.
- A comfortable position.
from: The Relaxation Response by Herbert Benson, 1975
Positive Coping Strategies for Stress
Physical and Lifestyle
- Abdominal breathing and relaxation
- Low-stress diet
- Regular exercise
- "Down time" (including "mental health days")
- Mini-breaks (5-10 minute periods to relax during the day)
- Time management (appropriate pacing)
- Sleep hygiene
- Choosing a nontoxic environment
- Material security
- Social support and relatedness
- Good communication
- Recreational activities ("playtime")
- Emotional release
- Sense of humor-ability to see things in perspective
- Constructive thinking-ability to counter negative thinking
- Distraction-ability to distract yourself from negative preoccupations
- Task-oriented (vs. reactive) approach to problems
- Acceptance (ability to accept/cope with setbacks)
- Consistent goals or purposes to work toward
- Positive philosophy of life
- Religious/spiritual life and commitment
from: The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne, Ph.D., 1995
Steps for Meditation
- Clear your schedule/activities for 15 quiet, uninterrupted minutes.
- If necessary, use a room with a door that closes and close it.
- Choose a comfortable sitting position, either on the floor or in a chair. No couches or recliners.
- Sit with comfortably erect posture, spine straight. If in a chair, feet flat on floor, hands at rest on thighs. Loosen any tight clothing.
- Begin breathing from the abdomen.
- Count breaths: 1 on inhale, 2 on exhale, up to 10, then start over.
- When your mind starts busily making lists, gently return to breath counting. Do not be critical or upset with yourself.
- When you have mastered breathing, you may wish to consider using a repetitive phrase, called a mantra. Examples are "Know myself", "I am", "Let thy light shine through me" (Quaker) or one word such as peace, love, light, etc.
- For those who may enjoy visual stimuli, using a lighted candle, seashell, crystal may enhance your experience after breathing is mastered.
- When your time is up, you may be surprised to note that you were aware of your allotted time and can "come back" at the end of the time period. Allow a few seconds or minutes to reorient yourself before plunging into your life again.
from Finding the Quiet Mind-Robert Ellwood, 1987
10 Ways to Build a High Energy Life
- Eat breakfast.
- Skipping breakfast can bring on a late-morning slump.
- Eat for energy.
- Several small meals throughout the day keep blood sugar levels steady and increase energy.
- Get the right amount of sleep.
- Lack of rest reduces your ability to concentrate and be creative.
- Get moving.
- Exercise increases level of feel-good chemical called endorphins.
- Practice breathing slowly and deeply for relaxation and mental alertness.
- Spice up your life.
- Get together with friends Enjoy a hobby.
- Have fun.
- Remember, laughter is good for the heart and soul.
- Watch less TV.
- Watch only the programs you like, instead of whatever is on.
- Get a checkup.
- If you are exhausted or depressed, your doctor can help.
Source: Total Wellness, Vol VI, No. 2, Rutherford Publishing, Inc. P.O. Box 8853, Waco, TX 76714
Internet Sites for Your Health
Neurology Web Forums (Mass. Gen. Hospital)
Emory University Health Sciences Med Web
National Family Caregivers Association
Pursuit of Happiness:
Mental health clearinghouse site. Very comprehensive.
Self Help and Psychology Magazine
Mental health site.
NIMH public information
American Psychological Association
Georgia Psychological Association. Local referral and general mental health information.
Burns, David. 1999. Feeling Good: the new mood therapy.
DeRosis, H. and Pellegrino, V. 1976. The Book of Hope. Bantam.
Dowling, Colette. 1991. You Mean I Don't Have to Feel this Way? Bantam
Frank and Minirth, L. 1996. Freedom from Depression Workbook.
Frankel, L. 1991. Women, Anger and Depression: Strategies for Self Empowerment.
Owen, Patricia. 2000. I Can See Tomorrow: a guide to living with depression.
Scarf, Maggie. 1980. Unfinished Business. Doubleday and Co.
Viorst, Judith. 1986. Necessary Losses. Simon and Schuster.