Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Create a Vision Board to direct and control your life

Many life coaches and Law of Attraction enthusiasts recommend creating a "vision board." "What's a vision board?," you may ask. Vision boards are a type of blueprint for the kind of life you'd like to create for yourself -- a visual representation of what you'd like to include (and exclude) in your future. Creating a vision board helps you hone in on your goals and priorities, stay motivated for positive change, and perhaps even draw positive things into your life. Here's how to create one:

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: At Least 15 Minutes

Here's How:

1)First, think about what you'd like to create in your life. As with positive affirmations, it's important to think about what you want in life, rather than what you don't want! For example, instead of thinking, "I want to put an end to money problems," think, "I'd like more money or financial security." Think in positive and specific terms.

2)Gather together several magazines that you don't mind cutting up. Look through the pages and find images that match your vision for what you want in your future. If you see something you think you might like cut it out. Focus more on how you feel looking at the picture than on exactly what the picture contains, and choose things that seem to draw you in. If they're not on your initial list, it's obviously still fine to include them.

3)If you don't find visual representations for everything you'd like to include in your vision board -- a book with your name on it as author, for example -- you may want to draw your own pictures. (This can be a great exercise in creativity!) If you're really not comfortable with your own drawings, you can ask someone else to create pictures for you. Another option is buying and printing pictures from and other sites.

4)Once you have all of your pictures amassed, you have a few choices. The most popular option is to paste the pictures onto a poster board, collage-style. If you want a more professional look, however, you can tack them up on a cork board, or even create a smaller collage and frame it. If you'd prefer to keep it more private, you can create a "vision book" that you look at often, or simply roll up and store your poster-board collage when you're not viewing it.

That's it -- almost! Once you've created your vision board, don't stick it in a corner and forget about it (although you'll still likely see positive changes if you do this). It's more effective to look at your vision board frequently, reminding yourself where your goals lie and keeping them in the forefront of your mind and maintaining your passion and motivation to create the life you want. Besides, you'll want to enjoy your handiwork!

i)It doesn't matter how you arrange things, randomly or in an orderly fashion. Just create the board however you'd like it.
ii)You can turn your journal into a vision board of sorts by including pictures in the pages when you find ones you like.
iii)This is also a great activity for kids!

Adapted from:Elizabeth Scott, M.S.,

Relieve Stress With Visualization Breathing

Both visualization and breathing exercises have been found to be great stress relief strategies. Here are some ways that you can use visualization techniques with breathing exercises to achieve quick and effective stress relief.

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 5 or More Minutes

Here's How:

1)Close Your Eyes And Relax.
Let your breathing get become slower and deeper.

2)Practice Stress Relief Breathing.
Breathe from your diaphragm or belly instead of from your shoulders or chest. Don't force it, but let your breathing become natural and relaxed.

As you breathe in, imagine that 'relaxation' is coming into your body and flowing through your limbs, reaching every part of you. As you exhale, imagine that all the stress from your body is being exhaled. After a few minutes, you should feel more 'full' of peace, and the stress in your body should be reduced.

As you breathe, imagine that your hands and feet are getting warmer. With practice, this can further reverse your stress response and actually warm your extremities, relaxing your body in the process.

5)Another Idea...
Imagine that, with each breath, your body is becoming more and more loose. With each exhale, your limbs are a little more like spaghetti, your face a little more expressionless, your body a still pool of water.

6)Keep Breathing.
For five minutes or twemty, continuing this exercise can relieve stress and help you return to your activities (and stressors) with a renewed sense of strength and serenity.

If you're really tired and fear that this will put you to sleep, keep your practice to about 5 minutes, or set an alarm.

Conversely, if you're having trouble sleeping, this exercise may prove very helpful.

You may also try other breathing exercises as .Pranayam

By; Elizabeth Scott, M.S.,

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Quiz: Risk of Heart Disease in Women.

Here is a quiz on cardiac risk factors tailored especially for women.

True or False?
For each "true" statement, give yourself the number of points indicated.

1)My parents or siblings have had a premature (before age 55 for men, or age 65 for women) heart attack, stroke, bypass surgery or angioplasty. (2 points)

2)I am age 55 or older, or post-menopausal. (1 point)

3)I am a smoker. (2 points)

4)I do not routinely exercise for at least 30 minutes, 4 times per week. (1 point)

5)My blood pressure is over 120/80. (1 point) I have diabetes or take medication for my blood sugar (2 points)

6)My HDL cholesterol is less than 50 mg/dl, or my total cholesterol is greater than 240 mg/dl, or I don't know my cholesterol levels (1 point)

7)I am 20 pounds or more overweight (1 point)

8)I am taking birth control pills (nonsmokers add 1 point, smokers add 2 points)

9)My blood CRP (C-Reactive Protein) level is elevated (1 point)

10)I have metabolic syndrome. (2 points) (Metabolic syndrome is any three of the following: high blood sugar, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, hypertension, and central obesity ("fat belly."))

Add up your points. If your score is 5 or higher, your risk of developing heart disease is high. If your score is 2 - 4, your risk is moderate. If your score is 0 - 1, your risk is low.

If your risk is high, you need see a doctor soon for a cardiac evaluation, and for help with aggressive risk modification. If your risk is moderate, you should see a doctor for a complete risk assessment and for guidance in risk modification. Even if your risk is low, you need to deal with any modifiable risk factors you have (those mentioned in statements 3 - 11.)


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Benefits of Laughter: Stress management

• Hormones: Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline), dopamine and growth hormone. It also increases the level of health-enhancing hormones like endorphins, and neurotransmitters. Laughter increases the number of antibody-producing cells and enhances the effectiveness of T cells. All this means a stronger immune system, as well as fewer physical effects of stress.

• Physical Release: Have you ever felt like you "have to laugh or I'll cry"? Have you experienced the cleansed feeling after a good laugh? Laughter provides a physical and emotional release.

• Internal Workout: A good belly laugh exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abs and even works out the shoulders, leaving muscles more relaxed afterward. It even provides a good workout for the heart.

• Distraction: Laughter brings the focus away from anger, guilt, stress and negative emotions in a more beneficial way than other mere distractions.

• Perspective: Studies show that our response to stressful events can be altered by whether we view something as a 'threat' or a 'challenge'. Humor can give us a more lighthearted perspective and help us view events as 'challenges', thereby making them less threatening and more positive.

• Social Benefits of Laughter: Laughter connects us with others. Also, laughter is contagious, so if you bring more laughter into your life, you can most likely help others around you to laugh more, and realize these benefits as well. By elevating the mood of those around you, you can reduce their stress levels, and perhaps improve the quality of social interaction you experience with them, reducing your stress level even more!

How To Use Laughter:
Laughter is one of my all-time favorite stress management strategies because it's free, convenient, and beneficial in so many ways. You can get more laughter in your life with the following strategies:

• T.V. and Movies: There's no shortage of laughter opportunities from the entertainment, both at the theater and in the aisles of the video stores, as well as at home with T.V. comedies. While wasting your time watching something marginally funny may actually frustrate you, watching truly hilarious movies and shows is an easy way to get laughter into your life whenever you need it.

• Laugh With Friends: Going to a movie or comedy club with friends is a great way to get more laughter in your life. The contagious effects of laughter may mean you'll laugh more than you otherwise would have during the show, plus you'll have jokes to reference at later times. Having friends over for a party or game night is also a great setup for laughter and other good feelings.

• Find Humor In Your Life: Instead of complaining about life's frustrations, try to laugh about them. If something is so frustrating or depressing it's ridiculous, realize that you could 'look back on it and laugh.' Think of how it will sound as a story you could tell to your friends, and then see if you can laugh about it now. With this attitude, you may also find yourself being more lighthearted and silly, giving yourself and those around you more to laugh about. Approach life in a more mirthful way and you'll find you're less stressed about negative events, and you'll achieve the health benefits of laughter. (See this article on maintaining a sense of humor.

• 'Fake It Until You Make It': Just as studies show the positive effects of smiling occur whether the smile is fake or real, faked laughter also provides the benefits mentioned above. So smile more, and fake laughter; you'll still achieve positive effects, and the fake merriment may lead to real smiles and laughter.

•More on Having Fun: See these additional suggestions on laughing more and having fun in your life.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Overview of Coronary Heart Disease Treatments

Treating the type of heart disease known as coronary artery disease (CAD) is a little like fighting a war: It's a long-term struggle that has to be fought on many different fronts, and if you let your guard down you may pay a high price. So, if you have been diagnosed with CAD, you and your doctor have a lot to prepare for, and a lot of strategic decisions to make.

This article outlines the things you need to consider as you and your doctor decide on the right approach to treating your heart disease. Some of these treatments (such as taking steps to slow the progression of the disease) should be adopted by every single patient with CAD. Other options (such as bypass surgery or angioplasty and stenting) are not suitable or even desirable for everyone. To to be sure that everything that should be done is being done, you and your doctor will need to carefully answer all three of the following questions.

1) How Can you Reduce Your Risk of Cardiac Ischemia and Angina?
CAD is caused by atherosclerosis, a disease that causes plaques to form in the walls of your coronary arteries. Those plaques can eventually produce complete blockage of the arteries, which leads to a myocardial infarction (heart attack). But long before that happens, partial blockages are often already in your heart's arteries.

This is important to keep in mind, because partial blockages of the coronary arteries can limit the flow of blood to your heart muscle. So, while your heart muscle may be getting all the blood it needs while you are relaxed and at rest, these partial blockages can prevent your heart muscle from receiving an adequate amount of oxygen when you are exercising or under stress. During these times -- when your heart requires more oxygen than the partially blocked coronary artery can provide -- your heart muscle experiences ischemia. The oxygen-starved (ischemic) heart muscle can cause the painful or uncomfortable sensation which we refer to as angina. Because this kind of angina is due to a relatively stable blockage, and because the angina it produces occurs relatively predictably (that is, during a certain amount of exercise), we call it stable angina.

There are two general treatment options for preventing ischemia and stable angina in patients who have CAD.

The first approach, and the one we tend to hear more about, is to use so called "invasive therapy" - that is, to use either bypass surgery or angioplasty and stenting to relieve specific blockages within the coronary arteries.

The second approach is to use drug therapy and other forms of non-surgical, non-catheter-based treatment.

Both approaches can be very effective, and each approach carries its own advantages or disadvantages. You will need to talk to your doctor about which approach is more appropriate in your case - but keep in mind that often a combination of these two approaches is best.

2) How Can You Prevent Heart Attacks and Other Acute Problems with CAD?

In addition to gradually developing blockages in your coronary arteries, you are also at risk for sudden deterioration, which doctors call acute coronary syndrome (ACS). ACS is caused by the sudden formation of a blood clot (thrombosis) within a coronary artery, usually due to rupture of a plaque in the wall of the artery. ACS can cause either unstable angina or a heart attack. Either form of ACS is a medical emergency.

Because anyone with CAD can develop ACS - even patients whose plaques are not yet producing significant blockages - it is extremely important for everyone with CAD to be on treatment to help prevent ACS. Several steps can be taken to help reduce this risk, and you need to talk to your doctor about each of them.

3) How Can You Slow or Stop the Worsening of CAD?
Atherosclerosis is a chronic, progressive disease that gets worse over time. So no matter what other treatments for CAD you may receive, unless you also take steps to slow or stop the advance of atherosclerosis, you can expect to develop more and more problems as time goes by.

It is possible to slow the progression of CAD with an aggressive program of lifestyle changes and medical treatments, including intensive anti-cholesterol therapy (usually requiring statins), weight control, exercise, smoking cessation, controlling high blood pressure, and careful control of diabetes, if you have it..

Doing all of this will not be easy, but it is vitally important to winning the war of heart disease. In many ways, heart disease is also similar to another common disease, cancer. Like cancer, CAD is a life-threatening disease that is very likely to kill you, sooner or later, unless it's adequately treated. And, as with cancer, the treatment is tough. Successful treatment requires a deep commitment, and indeed a requires fundamental change in attitude and in focus. If you had cancer, you would likely adopt that whatever-it-takes attitude. You need to adopt the same attitude now: Your life depends on it.

By: Richard N. Fogoros, M.D.,

Monday, February 2, 2009

Music Relaxation: Music and Stress Management

With all the ways music affects your body, you can probably already clearly see how music can be used as an effective relaxation and stress management tool. In addition to the many physical changes that music can bring music is especially helpful in relaxation and stress management because it can be used in the following ways:

Music and Physical Relaxation: Music can promote relaxation of tense muscles, enabling you to easily release some of the tension you carry from a stressful day (or week).

Music as an Aid in Stress Relief Activities: Music can help you get ‘into the zone’ when practicing yoga, self hypnosis or guided imagery, can help you feel energized when exercising, help dissolve the stress when you’re soaking in the tub, and be a helpful part of many other stress relief activities. It can take an effective stress reliever and make it even more effective! Music elicites emotions.

Music and a Meditative State: As mentioned before, music can help your brain get into a meditative state, which carries wonderful stress relief benefits with it. For those who find intimidating, music can be an easier alternative.

Music to Promote a Positive Focus: Music, especially upbeat tunes, can take your mind off what stresses you, and help you feel more optimistic and positive. This helps release stress and can even help you keep from getting as stressed over life’s little frustrations in the future.

Music and Affirmations: The way you see the world and the type of self talk you habitually use can also have a profound effect on your stress level, which is why positive affirmations that create more positive self talk are so helpful. Music that has affirming lyrics can bring the double benefit of music and positive affirmations, helping you to surround yourself with positive energy and more often look on the bright side, letting stressful events more easily roll off your back.

These are some of the reasons that music relaxation is among the easiest and most effective forms of relaxation available, and music is such a great stress management tool. For more on music for relaxation, visit some of About’s music sites: