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Relax, Exercise, Laughter, Message

Eight Ways To Beat Stress In 2006

 By Dr. Gifford Jones  Thursday, October 7, 2010

Voltaire was right when he wrote, “Most men live lives of quiet desperation”. As we enter another year, desperation seems to be getting worse. Escalating violence in Iraq, concerns about increasing crime in our cities, political corruption and headlines warning us of the dangers of prescription drugs confront us daily. So all the more reason to consider 10 non-prescription ways to help you relax in 2005.

1. Massage cures more stress and sore muscles than a cartload of pills. In fact, this message has not been lost on industry where anything to help the bottom-line becomes top priority. Some companies are now using massage as a form of stress management to decrease fatigue, headache and back strain in their employees. This results in greater employee retention and job satisfaction. Remember that athletes and boxers don’t get rub-downs just for show business. Muscle activity burns glycogen which in turn produces lactic and carbonic acid. Massage helps to remove these toxic products of metabolism.

2. Joseph Stalin, one of the worst despots of all time, at least gave good advice when he remarked, “One has to live with the devil until you reach the end of the bridge”. You have to learn to separate the possible from the impossible. Every week in my office I see emotional problems that a trainload of psychiatrists couldn’t cure. If you have an idiotic boss who should never have been promoted, there’s usually no way to tell him or her to go to hell unless you win the lottery. And if your partner has run off with your best friend, only time will heal the psychological trauma. So play for time rather than trying to solve an unsolvable problem.

3. A study at The Harvard Medical School showed that students who meditated for 15 minutes a day or played solitaire, knitted, read a book or engaged in aerobic exercise inoculated themselves against modern day anxieties more than students who failed to take time for distraction.

4. Laughter is a great way to decrease stress. Years ago Norman Cousins, editor of The Saturday Review, was stricken with a crippling illness that involved his joints. Confined to bed, he decided to treat himself with laughter, and day after day watched humourous movies. Eventually his health was restored and for years after he taught the value of laughter at The University of California Medical School. It’s been aptly said that if it were not for laughs we might be sicker than we are. And remember, no one to my knowledge has ever died from laughter.

5. Remember that life without stress is death. The late Hans Selye, President of The International Institute of Stress, cautioned patients that since tension cannot be totally escaped, they should attempt to keep it within normal limits. And to realize the threshold has been passed and to seek medical help if you experience palpitations, headaches and insomnia. His message is to practice “pace, not race”.

6. Learn to live with less. It’s conceivable that life would still go on without the latest electronic gadget. Saving for a rainy day saves a lot of stress.

7. Be realistic about your expectations, thereby reducing the disappointment factor.

8. Try to believe the bottle is half full, not half empty. And stop “catastrophizing and awfulizing”.

9. Make exercise a religion. Exercise increases endorphins, nature’s o morphine-like substance. It helps to fight depression that often accompanies stress.

10. Tense patients look surprised when I write this prescription, ” Rx - take a train ride”. I tell them it’s a great way to relax. This Christmas rather than face the turmoil of airports my wife and I boarded Via Rail for Montreal. We splurged by staying at The Ritz Carlton and savoured the delights of Old Montreal. Another short Via Rail trip took us to historic Chateau Frontenac hotel in Quebec City. We walked the ramparts of the citadel, enjoyed the city’s ambiance and practiced what I preach, that wine increases good cholesterol. Wherever you are in Canada there are interesting train trips nearby. I recommend this prescription as a way to relaxation and freedom from stress.

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Dr. Gifford Jones  Bio
Dr. Gifford Jones Most recent columns

W. Gifford-Jones M.D is the pen name of Dr. Ken Walker graduate of The Harvard Medical School. He’s been a ship’s surgeon, hotel physician and family doctor and later trained in surgery at McGill in Montreal, University of Rochester N.Y. and Harvard. His medical column is published by 60 Canadian newspapers and several in the U.S. He is the author of seven books. Dr. Walker has a medical practice in Toronto. His Web site is: http://www.mydoctor.ca/gifford-jones

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