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Minding Your Stress: How Mind-Body Therapy Can Help

 By | December 17, 2020 | No Comments
 Category: General Wellness Healthy Diet

Are thoughts of the holidays, the New Year, money or just life getting you down? Life stressors rank high on the list of factors that can influence the disease process, promote inflammation and affect your body’s ability to fight off chronic illness. Stress also boosts production of cortisol, a hormone tasked with the job of regulating energy and mobilizing it to areas where it’s most needed (and sometimes, where it’s needed the least)!

When you are healthy and in balance, cortisol levels tend to peak in the early morning and gradually decline throughout the day. However, prolonged exposure to physical, environmental and mental stress has been shown to significantly disrupt this natural cycle, leading to weight gain, especially around the midsection.

Relax, Just Do It!

For decades, Dr. Herbert Benson, founder of the Mind-Body Institute in Cambridge, MA and an associate professor at Harvard University, has been writing about the relaxation response. He describes it as a “mind-body intervention that elicits deep changes in the physical and emotional response to stress.”

Strategies that elicit this response include meditation, yoga, tai chi, Qi gong, deep breathing, controlled muscle relaxation and guided imagery. And although many would like to point to the “woo woo” factor at-play, an evolving and wide body of published literature indicates that the medical community is truly interested in the positive changes that these practices promote, which include a slower heart rate, reduced blood pressure, improvements in blood sugar and fat levels and even boosted immunity.

Talk about a natural, accessible fix for all that ails!

Try a little mindfulness

Before the stress knocks you out, hit it where it hurts! Just 20 minutes a day of relaxation promotes changes in the way that our cells respond to stress and may even alter inflammation overdrive! And it’s easy to do; the key is to find a quiet, comfortable position, close your eyes and focus on deeply relaxing all the muscle groups, starting at your feet and progressing up to your face. Breathe through your nose and as you exhale, say the word ‘one’ silently to yourself. Success is simply allowing relaxation to occur at its own pace.

Mindful meditation may also help fight disease and weight gain. Research has shown that just 30 minutes a day may alter markers of inflammation by as much as 25% and in turn, help lower risk of disease. But that’s not all! Meditation can also be used to fight the battle of the bulge. Focus helps to interrupt habitual thoughts, emotions and behavior brought on by stress (emotional eating anyone?). Meditate on physical sensations of hunger, stomach fullness, taste satisfaction and food cravings as well as emotional eating triggers and negative emotions. The result appears to be lower early morning cortisol levels, which in turn, help to change the tendency toward the tummy tire.

It’s time to give yourself the present of mind and body. Relax. Just do it!



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