Houseplants Reduce Stress Symptoms?

palmtreeDo you know how to recognize the symptoms of dangerous stress levels?

Typical symptoms of dangerous stress levels include headaches, poor mental focus, slipping memory, confusion, feeling spaced out, disturbed sleep patterns, feeling tired or run down, weight loss or gain… the list goes on and on.

But there’s hope – and even some remarkable evidence that just caring for a houseplant can help reduce your stress symptoms. Read on.

Most people are NOT aware of the degree to which they are suffering from stress.  Our society admires those who show grace under pressure, and we all want to believe we can handle whatever life throws at us.  But the stakes are high. People who can’t reduce chronic stress live shorter lives, suffer more illness and disability, have less satisfying relationships, and often are plagued by anxiety and/or depression.

We all know that stress contributes to weight gain, diabetes and many other ailments – but few realize just how harmful stress is for the physical brain itself. And fewer still know how to recognize their own stress symptoms.

Although chronic stress has long been known to trigger the release of excessive amounts of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, new studies show that both hormones actually KILL brain cells, and interfere with the production of new ones.

Is stress really an issue? Consider this: Research shows that chronic stress seriously disrupts our immune, endocrine and digestive systems. This has important implications for our physical health And killing our gray matter (the brain’s information processing center) from long periods of even minor stress is also not a pretty picture..

The Best Proven Stress Reducers
Changing our thought patterns can help us better control stress. This can allow us to prevent and even reverse some of the adverse changes such as loss of brain cells in our hippocampus — where our memory resides.

Research shows that people who spend just 20 minutes a day focusing on their breath, or on calming thoughts, experience lower blood pressure, less anxiety and reduced chronic pain from stress.

Moderate exercise is also an excellent stress fighter. Other good stress reducers are feeling we have a purpose in life, or having a pet to care for.  There is also quite a bit of evidence that engineered brainwave training, which has actually been around for almost 40 years is a very effective stress fighter, and has lasting stress management effects.

How a Plant Can Help
But here’s a research study that may really surprise you: In one study the residents of a nursing home were split into two groups. Half of the residents were told that they were responsible for taking care of a house plant.

After one year, the people who were caring for a house plant were healthier and had fewer illnesses. They also lived longer than the group who did not have a plant to care for. So yes, DO go buy a plant – or give one to your Mom, Dad,  Grandma, or even your boss 🙂

Your Brain Composes Classical Music

April 28, 2009 by  
Filed under Build Mind Power

Quantum Mind Power GymOver the past decade the influence of music on our cognitive development, learning, and emotional well-being has emerged as a hot field of scientific study. Now a new question has come up: Does each brain have its own unique music?

The answer seems to be yes – with the tempo and tone varying depending upon one’s mood, frame of mind, and other features of the brain itself.

Recent research shows that if the *brain music* of an emergency responder such as a fireman is recorded and played back to them, it can sharpen their reflexes during a crisis, and calm their nerves afterward.

To further explore music’s potential relevance to emergency response, a USA Science & Technology Directorate initiated a study of a form of neurotraining they are calling *Brain Music.*

The study uses music selected to mimic an emergency responder’s own brainwaves to help them better deal with common problems like insomnia, fatigue, and headaches stemming from stressful environments. The underlying concept of *Brain Music* is to use the frequency, amplitude, and duration of musical sounds to move the brain from an anxious state to enter a more relaxed state.

The job was to first capture the listener’s brainwaves while relaxed and/or productive and alert, and then replicate the rhythm of their brainwaves using music. The researchers report that the music DOES boost productivity and energy levels, and trigger the body’s natural positive responses to stress.

It seems there’s a classical genius-or maybe two genii-in all of us. The resulting two- to six-minute minute musical tracks lean toward the classical. The relaxation tracks tend to sound like *melodic, subdued Chopin sonatas* … while the alertness tracks tend to have more of a *Mozart sound.”

So this brings up an interesting thought: Is this is an indication that the great classical composers just listened to their own brainwaves to compose their music. Humm… What do YOU think…


Why Laughter is Good Medicine

April 17, 2009 by  
Filed under Feeling Positive

laughteryoga1501Tired of all the gloom and doom? Try getting a good laugh.

Back in 1995, Dr. Madan Kataria, a physician from Mumbai, India, created a club whose members gather every day to laugh. He called it Laughter Yoga. Sessions begin with participants clapping rhythmically and chanting “Ho-ho, ha-ha-ha. This faked laughter soon becomes real laughter.

Laughter Yoga combines yoga deep breathing and simulated laughter exercises. Does fake laughter have the same benefits as real laughter? The doctor says even if you pretend laugh, the same set of happy chemicals (endorphins) are released in your brain. Today there are over 5,000 laughter clubs in more than 50 countries.

Laughter brings important health benefits. Pent up negative emotions like anger, sadness and frustration are released in a healthy way, and humor can help us view stressful events as challenges rather than threats. As Bill Cosby has said, if you can laugh at it, you can survive it.

Laughter may even help to prevent heart disease, according to a study at the University of Maryland. When you laugh you improve the function of the innermost lining of your blood vessels, and this is important to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

In the study, viewing laughter-provoking clips from movies was found to relax blood vessels in 19 of the 20 study volunteers, and increase blood flow an average of 22 percent. While film clips that caused stress were found to narrow blood vessels in 14 of 20 volunteers, and decrease blood flow by an average of 34 percent.
Other studies by Dr. Lee Berk of California’s Loma Linda University School of Medicine show that laughter may also strengthen our immune system and decrease our stress hormones.

There are lots of easy ways to get more laughter into your life:

  • Watch funny movies or TV shows.
  • Read funny books.
  • Hang out with happy, upbeat people.
  • Use brainwave training to instantly bust your stress