Greg's Wellness Corner

Knowledge is power -- Acquire it and use it to achieve a better life.

Stress, Sleep & Spirituality

Stress

We all deal with stress everyday via work, family, paying bills, etc. Stress comes from two main places: (1) external sources, such as demanding jobs, problematic relationships, negative people, and financial problems; and, (2) internal sources, that is how we perceive and respond to these and other events.

There are many ways to deal with stress, including eating a healthy diet, exercising, meditation, spirituality, getting enough sleep, and helping others.

Here are some tips to help you handle stress in your life.

1. Manage What You Can Control
The all-important first step is to distinguish between those parts of your stress that you have some measure of control over and those you don’t. You want to focus your energy on the areas over which you have some control.

For example, you cannot change the fact that your boss is a dimwit but you can choose how you respond to him. Spend your limited time and energy on trying to make the situation better instead of being anxious about the current state.

2. Examine Your Coping Style
Why does one person faced with diabetes rise to the challenge while another person struggles with continual feelings of failure? It often has a lot to do with coping style. Many people have what’s called “learned helplessness.” They respond to adversity in a passive manner believing that fate will inevitably have its way. But this coping style usually fails to see the many choices that are actually available. If you are prone to learned helplessness, start asking yourself what choices you have that could change your situation? Write them down. Be proactive. Diabetes doesn’t have to control your life.

3. Choose to Enrich Your Life
In our fast-paced society, many people never give themselves a chance to fully recharge their physical, mental and emotional reserves. As a result, our minds and bodies stay tightly wound and increasingly stressed with each passing day. Instead of trying to distract yourself from these stressors by plopping in front of the television or going out to eat, do something that you find truly enriching.

Consider these ideas for starters:
  • Help a friend 
  • Go for a ride or visit the mall
  • Tour a museum
  • Take a walk in nature
  • Write in your journal
  • Talk with a close friend
  • Take a bubble bath
  • Get a massage
  • Read a good book like Death to Diabetes Smile
4. Use Exercise Techniques to Manage Your Stress
Regular practice of the following exercise disciplines will immediately help you reduce your stress level, and, over time, bring your glucose levels down as well:
  • Diaphragmatic breathing. In a sitting or lying position, breathe in through your nose, pulling the air deeply into your lungs until you feel your lower abdomen begin to extend. Take in as much air as you can. Hold it for a count of five and then slowly exhale through your mouth. Do this several times.
  • Progressive relaxation. In a lying position, tense one muscle group (calves, for example) for a slow count of 10 while keeping the rest of your body relaxed. Stop tensing that muscle and relax for a few seconds. Then move to the next muscle group (thighs) and repeat. Progressively work your way through the entire body. This exercise is great to help bleed out the tension in muscles before sleeping.
  • Exercise. Find an aerobic activity (running, walking, swimming, cycling, water exercise, tai chi, dancing, etc.) that you enjoy and participate in it regularly. Exercise is one of the best ways to release tension and keep your blood sugar in check.
More Tips to Handle Stress
Here are some additional ways to handle the stress in your life:
  • Identify a strong motive for getting healthy, e.g. financial, your children, family, quality of life, religious, disdain towards drugs, fear of a painful death. Ensure that your motive is strong enough to overcome the setbacks you’re going to have during your journey.
  • Embrace change and the adversity that you will face during your journey. Adversity will build your character or reveal it.
  • Ensure you obtain at least 6-7 hours of quality deep sleep each night.
  • Find quiet time for yourself each day, even if it's only 15 minutes.
  • Avoid the emotional vampires and toxic relationships that drain your hope and your soul.
  • Look for ways to use your talent and your passion to help your family and/or your community.
  • Join an ADA-sponsored or church-sponsored diabetic support group as part of your support system.
  • Laugh! Laugh! Laugh! Laughter is a wonderful stress-reducer. Laughter relieves muscular tension providing a discharge of nervous excitement. It improves breathing, regulates the heartbeat and pumps endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers) into the bloodstream.
  • Let go of the anger, jealousy, and envy in your life. These negative emotions trigger the release of stress hormones and weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to disease.

 Anti-Stress Foods

It is a known fact that stresses are among the factors that destroy our body and our health; and, cause our blood sugar to rise. The good news is that you can control your blood sugar and limit the damage to your body caused by living a stressful life. How? By simply embracing a superior nutritional program such as the Death to Diabetes Super Diet. Although this diet was designed to address your diabetes, it also reduces the impact of stress on your body.

There are some simple rules, like avoiding caffeine and alcohol, avoiding fried and fatty foods, and so on.  Here are some foods that can you add to your daily diet to combat stress and relieve the effects of stresses.

Almonds. Other great sources of magnesium, zinc and the above mentioned vitamins. Have a little snack and eat a handful of almonds, but remember that eating more of this delicious natural foods is linked to increased risks of cardiovascular problems.

Asparagus. This amazing green vegetable is an excellent anti stress food, a natural source of folic acid, which is an important chemical that helps to balance your mood and block the hormones produced when we are stressed out.

Bananas. These natural foods are rich in vitamin B, an important nutrient to keep stress hormones and blood pressure levels under control even in the most stressful situations.

Blueberries. This great low calorie product is rich in antioxidants, fiber and vitamin C, can also effectively help us fight against stresses.

Dark chocolate. It is known as one of the best anti-stress foods which is packed with flavonoids with amazing relaxing properties. Phenethylamine is another very important natural substance which can be found in dark chocolate. This chemical enhances our mood and makes us feel relaxed too. In addition to this, studies have shown that regular consumption of dark chocolate in small doses is linked to lower levels of cortisol, known also as stress hormone.

High in flavonoids, which are lauded for their relaxing properties (Lemon Balm and chamomile tea – other excellent sources), chocolate also contains phenethylamine, a chemical that enhances your mood. The darker the chocolate, the more healthful substances you’re being paid in your diet, so look for bars that are 70 percent cacao or privileged.   Researchers found that eating the equivalent of one mean-sized dark chocolate candy bar (1.4 ounces) each day for two weeks reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol as well as the “fight-or-flight” hormones known as catecholamines in vastly stressed people.

Bison/Beef. Rich in iron, vitamin B and zinc, beef and other types of red meat can be the best choice for the main course on a stressful day. However, remember that red meat has unhealthy saturated fat which is very harmful to your health.

Cantaloupe is an excellent source of vitamin C, which is crucial in combating stress. In fact, prolonged periods of stress deplete levels of vitamin C in the adrenal glands, so it's important to consume foods that contain high levels of it.

Cottage cheese. This type of cheese is very rich in proteins, calcium, as well as vitamins B2 and B12, which assist in banishing such symptoms of stresses as anxiety and restlessness.

Since cottage cheese is a good source of vitamins B2 and B12, mixing it with cantaloupe for breakfast or a midday snack will help you banish your feelings of anxiety.

Milk. A rich source of antioxidants, vitamins B 12 and B 2, raw milk (or goat's milk) can be used to block the activities of free radicals associated with stresses. A study has shown that the women who drinks lowfat milk on a regular basis displayed twice less symptoms of stresses in their PMS period.

Oatmeal. Carbs help you produce serotonin, a kind hormone that helps fight anxiety’s negative things-which is doubtless why many of us crave them when we’re stressed. Go with the appetite and choose healthful sources. The B vitamins in oats stimulate production of serotonin, a key neurotransmitter that sends soothing signals to your brain. Oatmeal is high in fiber, which means that your body will absorb it at a snail’s pace. In one fell swoop, you’ll prolong the serotonin boost, keeping physically feeling full for longer (and on less) and building sure your blood sugar’s in check.

Oranges. Oranges have high vitamin-C content. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that fights the free radicals that get unhindered when you’re stressed. It also lessens symptoms and shortens the duration of colds, which may be brought on by stress. Other excellent sources include kiwi fruit and strawberries.

Salmon. This is one of the best natural sources of Omega 3 fatty acids are reported to be an excellent food to slow down production of hormones adrenaline and cortisol, associated with increased levels  of stresses. Also, good amounts of Omega 3 acids in our body can help boost serotonin levels making us feel more happy and content.

Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids-overflowing in fish like wild salmon-can help back stress symptoms by boosting serotonin levels, and that an omega-3-rich diet can also help suppress the production of the anxiety hormones cortisol and adrenaline.

Sunflower Seeds: A excellent fund of folate, which helps your body produce a pleasure-inducing brain chemical called dopamine. Low levels of zinc are common among those suffering from stress. It is elemental for boosting the immunelogic and fighting infections.

Sushi. Aside from the benefits of fish described on the first page, the seaweed in maki (rolls) also has anxiety-fighting properties. It is packed with stress-relieving magnesium, as well as pantothenic acid and vitamin B2 (riboflavin).

Pantothenic acid is crucial, as it contributes to the health of the adrenal glands, which play a vital role in stress management. In times of stress, a deficiency in pantothenic acid can lead to feelings of anxiety and increased vulnerability to infection, illness and chronic fatigue.

Walnuts: They’ve been shown to help lower blood pressure, which is critical for those whose hearts are by now working overtime thanks to high adrenaline levels. In fact, research so strongly backs their health repayment that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration goes so far as to recommend 1-1/2 oz per day (Brilliant raw, organic walnuts, 1/4 cup daily but watch depression on thyroid function).

Breakfast. Almost every other person has a practice of regular skipping breakfasts. Why do we do this? Sometimes we sleep too long and have no time for having breakfast before leaving our house. Some people believe that skipping breakfasts can help in weight loss, but this idea is absolutely incorrect. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and skipping breakfasts does not lead to anything positive.

But, you must eat a properly-balanced meal in order to reap the benefits of breakfast. So, follow a program such as the Death to Diabetes Super Breakfast protocol to ensure optimum health.

Moreover, according to famous British expert nutritionists Professor Tanya Byron and Amanda Ursell, who recently published their Kingsmill Breakfast Report, eating healthy breakfasts can help us to reduce negative effects of our daily stresses.

A research leaded by these two specialists showed that eating a good nutritious breakfast in the morning helps to boost our resistance to stresses and improve our mental functioning during the day.

Note: Skipping breakfast or eating a poor one leads to substantially heightened stress levels and given the understanding of the role of stress in the deterioration of thinking, problem solving, focus, concentration and behavior, has profound implications for everyone, adults and children alike.”

 

 

Sleep

Sleep is very important to dealing with daily stress and to your overall health. Sleep can help to improve the health of your cardiovascular system, and help to prevent high blood pressure and chronic fatigue.

Insomnia problems include: you can’t get to sleep; you wake up in the middle of the night, and can’t go back to sleep; and, waking up too early, between 3:00 and 5:00 a.m., and you can’t get back to sleep.

Common causes of insomnia include poor eating habits, too much caffeine, too much alcohol, too much tobacco, nutritional deficiencies, blood glucose imbalances, physical pain, improper breathing, anxiety, stress, depression, and the lack of exercise.


To improve the quality of your sleep:  

  • Establish a consistent a regular daily routine and bedtime ritual, e.g. the same meal times, the same bedtime, the same pre-bed activities.
  • Keep your bedroom cool and well ventilated. Maintain a relaxing atmosphere in the bedroom.
  • Try an herbal drink with magnesium and calcium to help relax you. Do not eat (especially processed grain and sugar carbohydrates) less than 2 hours before going to bed. These foods raise your blood glucose and inhibit sleep. Later, when your blood glucose drops too low, you may wake up and not be able to go back to sleep.
  • Reduce your caffeine intake and avoid it altogether four to six hours before bedtime. Reduce your intake of alcohol, tobacco, and other stimulants especially in the evenings.
  • Eat a handful of walnuts or drink a glass of warm milk or a cup of chamomile or fennel tea to soothe your nervous system 15-20 minutes before going to bed.
  • Take a hot bath 2 hours before bedtime -- it increases your core body temperature, and when it abruptly drops when you get out of the bath, it signals your body that you are ready for sleep.
  • Ensure you have a quality firm bed that properly supports your body’s frame and a quality pillow to properly support your neck.
  • Try to sleep in complete darkness or as close as possible. When light hits the eyes, it disrupts the circadian rhythm of the pineal gland and the production of melatonin and serotonin.
  • Note: The body operates on the 24-hour cycle (12 on, and 12 off), which is called “Circadian Rhythms”. When it gets dark, the body clock stimulates the pineal gland, which produces melatonin to enable sleep. Bright light or sunshine shuts off melatonin production and inhibits sleep, causing insomnia.
  • Sleep on your back – it’s the best position for relaxing, and allows all your internal organs to rest properly. If you must sleep on your side, do it on your right side, not your left. Sleeping on the left side causes your lungs, stomach and liver to press against your heart. If possible, do not sleep on your stomach. It causes pressure on all your internal organs including your lungs, which results in shallow breathing. It can also cause a stiff neck and upper back problems.
  • Try to avoid watching too much TV just before going to bed. TV is too stimulating to the brain and it will take longer to fall asleep.
  • Listen to calm music, or read something spiritual to help to relax. Do not read anything stimulating, such as a mystery or suspense novel.
  • If possible, avoid using a loud alarm clock, which can be very stressful on the body when it is awoken suddenly. If you are getting enough sleep, an alarm clock should not be necessary.

 

Spirituality

Spirituality can be helpful when dealing with stress on a daily basis. Spirituality can be defined as experiencing the presence of a power or force and experiencing a closeness to that presence. Spirituality may mean being involved with organized religion, taking time to contemplate one’s place in the ultimate order of things, or focusing on the things that give life meaning, such as one’s family or social group. No matter what one’s personal motivation for seeking it, spirituality can be seen as part of the journey toward becoming whole and being healthy.Meditation Provides Emotional Balance

Holistic health care seeks in part to enhance the body’s natural healing ability. Much attention has been focused on developing sophisticated drugs and learning healthy life choices, but enhancing the body’s natural healing ability hasn’t been as rigorously studied.

Recent research in the field of mind/body medicine, or psycho-neuroimmunology, though, has shown that the mind can and does have a profound effect on the body. Techniques such as the Relaxation Response and other forms of meditation, guided imagery, positive outlook, humor, hope, and even one’s beliefs can all affect medical outcomes.

Perhaps it was the growing acceptance of involving the mind in the health process that made it easier for mainstream scientists to begin to take a serious look at spirituality and prayer. Prayer can be defined as communication with God, the creator of life, the collective unconscious, or one’s higher self. Some studies have suggested that prayer can have an effect on both individuals who pray for themselves as well as on those who are prayed for by others (even without their knowledge). For example, in a study of patients in a cardiac intensive care unit, those who were prayed for (unbeknownst to them) by a group of community volunteers had about 10% fewer complications than those who were not prayed for by the volunteers.

Research at Duke University’s Center for the Study of Religion/Spirituality and Health has looked at “intrinsic religiosity,” which is defined as one’s beliefs rather than participation in organized religious activities. Those with higher levels of intrinsic religiosity had better survival rates after severe illness, less depression in older age, less disability and mortality when faced with chronic disease, and possibly stronger immune systems. These and other studies raised interesting questions about the effect of prayer on both medical outcomes and general wellness.

More research in the field of spirituality is necessary, of course. However, for those comfortable with incorporating prayer into the fabric of their daily lives, the use of prayer may be yet another resource to enhance diabetes self-management and therefore, general wellness.

Body, Mind & Spirit

The Body, Mind and Spirit work in harmony to make you the best that you can be in this life. If one of these three elements is “sick” or out of balance with the other two, then, your entire being will be sick.

Unfortunately, most of traditional medicine focuses on the Body by addressing and suppressing the symptoms and never fixing the underlying root cause of the unhealthy cells. Traditional medicine tends to overlook the importance of the Mind and the Spirit and its role in healing the Body. Man also tends to focus on the Body by taking drugs to relieve pain or by feeding his food cravings to satisfy hormonal hunger – both of which may be driven by emotions such as depression. 

If you accept the fact that we live in a spiritual universe and that we are all spiritual beings, you will find yourself equipped with an instrument through which you can exert influence over your body and your blood glucose control.

But, how do you go about tapping into your inner spirit and belief system?  Anything and everything is possible if you have faith and you take responsibility of your health problems and follow up with the necessary actions; and, resist the negative influences that will discourage you from making yourself a healthier person.

Unfortunately, many people put their faith in man's drugs instead of the foods that were created by God. And, as long as we continue to believe that man is smarter than God, we will be trapped with poor health and our dependency on these man-made foods and drugs. So, become a victor of wellness, instead of a victim of disease.

Spiritual health allows you to focus on your inner faith and the belief that you must respect and protect what you put into your body to maintain a healthy balance with the mind and spirit. This supports Apostle Paul’s requirement to glorify God in our body, as well as our spirit:

“Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost . . . therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”  [1 Corinthians 6:19-20]

 

        

Importance of God

Is God important in our lives? Rather I should ask, why is God so important? Why does the Creator of All really matter in our lives?

Many people act as if God is not important to them, even religious adherents, because quite often they may attend their church, temple, or synagogue once a week, and the rest of the time they get caught up in their usual affairs of the world, instead of applying their spirituality to the whole of their lives. God & SpiritualityThey section off their various daily activities and keep them separate from one another. In most people's minds, they put God on the back shelf, and save Him for a rainy day, or when some tragedy befalls.

Essentially, they keep God last in their lives, or He may be placed at the bottom of their To Do List. Many people don't even have God in this list at all. God is not important enough to them. This is usually because God seems to be too ambiguous and distant to them, and sometimes they question whether or not God exists at all. They may perceive God as being far away, but the truth is people have removed themselves from God, who is closer than hands and feet, for our Creator's Spirit is within us.

A particular Zen philosophy suggests the God is as important as breathMeditation Provides Emotional Balanceing. But then your breath is a primary key to God's presence within you. Hindu teachings refer to "prana," the vital life-force in all living things, but generally accepted as manifesting through the breath, hence God's Breath of Life within every living soul. 

So why is God so important in our lives? Things may go wrong in your day-to-day living because you're not letting God guide you in what to do, whether it's basic things or dire circumstances. Most people don't listen to the Voice of Spirit within, also called intuition. If they did listen, circumstances would go much more smoothly. But listening within is definitely a learning process, complete with the usual trials and errors, until you learn to recognize the Spirit's Voice within; therefore, you must learn to discern. The sheep recognized the voice of their shepherd when he calls, and they will not heed a stranger's.

Likewise, it should stand to reason that all living creature that are created would not exist without their Creator, and those beings who are aware enough should realize they owe their allegiance to this Divine Source, thus committing their praise and worship to this Most Holy One. Many people may merely acknowledge the existence God, and yet there are those who do not. But those who have dedicated their lives to this Almighty Being, in one form or another, do indeed realize God's importance to them.

God is important because, very simply, "God is love," or so declares St. John in the New Testament. Life is essentially empty without love. When you apply Jesus Christ's Commandment of Love to love God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and to love your neighbor you are fulfilling the Creator's plan for you and He will guide you into His loving embrace. When you become His lover, for He is the Sacred Beloved who embraces you, divine unity is forming, and you will be transformed; hence, through love and surrender divine union with God is experienced.

In the physical plane of existence, all things appear separate and diverse. However, in the greater Divine Reality, all things exist in Oneness. When a soul exists in apparent separation, he lives in an illusion, so he perceives God as separate from himself.

When the human consciousness ascends toward Cosmic Consciousness, this divine union is realized and experienced by the aspiring soul. Reaching this Holy Oneness is yet another reason why God is so important in our lives.

How can the grain of sand be complete without the beach? How can the drop of water be whole without the ocean? How can the sun-ray emanate without the Sun? And how can you thrive harmoniously without God?

People may have the delusion that they can live without God, and this may last a long time, but when things in their lives begin to fall apart, or tragedies befall them, it's quite possible that they will finally realize they can't. Unfortunately, many have succumbed to a deep sleep, and they soon die, never knowing the truth.

There is an old Zen story - and I'm going to paraphrase it here - where the master and his disciple were cleaning linens in the river. The disciple blithely asks the master, "How much do we really need God in our lives?" The teacher suddenly and without warning pushed the disciple's head under the water and held it for almost a minute before he let go, allowing the startled one to rise up quickly, gasping desperately for precious air.

And the master replied, "THAT'S how much."

 The Power of Churches

Many of us attend or have attended a church. One of the missions of the church is to provide spiritual guidance to its church members. Consequently, in order for a church to be successful, it must provide spiritual Churchguidance in serving its congregation and its community.

The role of the congregation is to help the church with its mission.

But, many churches have become another example of an institution that has also lost its way and its real mission in life.

Ironically, it was the churches that helped Greg to grow and learn how to speak in a public forum.

If you look back at history, it was the churches who protected the slaves. It was the churches who educated many of the slaves.

Churches have played a major role in improving our society, but, today, many churches and its members are struggling -- physically and financially.

Here is how Greg's powerful message can be applied to your church and its members:
Healthy church members are happy church members. Happy church members are more giving to their church. The church has more resources and is more giving to their church members and their community. This leads to more people coming to church. And, the church is able to grow and help even more people.

By the way, many church members are sick and ill with diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, kidney failure, etc. Sick people can't help a church to grow as much as healthy people can. But, churches don't focus on God's nutrition and how to make people healthy!! In fact, many church people including the pastors and other church leaders rely on man's harmful drugs and man-made chemicals instead of God's super foods!!

Another point: Many church members are not only physically sick, but they are financially sick and struggling to make ends meet. And, financially sick people can't really help a church grow either.

These are very simple but powerful principles. Please share these principles with your pastor, church members, family, friends, and community.

Note: If you are a pastor, priest, church leader, or church member, please feel free to contact me.