I am all for living a long and healthy life and this blog is filled with suggestions on achieving that. But, besides having a functional brain and body in our senior years, we also want to be happy about it. Harvard has studied a group of men and boys over the past 78 years in what is one of the longest studies of adult life ever done.
“The Harvard Study of Adult Development has tracked the lives of 724 men from the time they were teenagers into old age — 268 Harvard College sophomores, and 456 boys from Boston’s inner city.”
Here are five of the big lessons they learned about what contributes to a good life.
Lesson 1: Happy childhoods matter
Having warm relationships with parents in childhood predicts that you will have warmer and more secure relationships with those closest to you in adulthood. We found that warm childhoods reached across decades to predict more secure relationships with spouses at age 80. A close relationship with at least one sibling in childhood predicts that people are less likely to become depressed by age 50. And warmer childhood relationships predict better physical health in adulthood all the way into old age. Continue reading
Dealing with stress seemed like a daily occurrence back when I was in the working world. These days, being retired, it’s a different story. I know that many of you are still working and deal with severe stresses on a regular basis. For that reason, I have written numerous posts on the subject. I offer some examples at the bottom of this post.
Here is Harvard taking a positive look at stress:
Changing your mindset doesn’t mean taking a Pollyanna view of the world. The key isn’t to deny stress, but to recognize and acknowledge it — and then to find the upside, because a full-throttle fight-or-flight response is not the only possible reaction to stress (at least when the stress does not involve a potentially life-threatening situation).
In people with a more stress-hardy mindset, the stress response is often tempered by the challenge response, which accounts for the so-called excite-and-delight experience that some people have in stressful situations, such as skydiving. Like the typical stress response, the challenge response also affects the cardiovascular system, but instead of constricting blood vessels and ramping up inflammation in anticipation of wounds, it allows for maximum blood flow, much like exercise. The balance of hormones is different, too, including more DHEA. Continue reading
Stress is like some kind of shark that has gotten into our private swimming pool and threatens to ruin our otherwise perfect day. I have written about it numerous times. At the bottom of this post, I list some of my favorites.
Here is what Harvard has to say.
Stress in adults, especially older adults, has many causes. You may experience it as a result of managing chronic illness, losing a spouse, being a caregiver, or adjusting to changes due to finances, retirement, or separation from friends and family. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do for stress relief.
Tailor the treatment
The type of stress relief that works best depends on what someone is experiencing. For example, if insomnia is a considerable source of stress in adults, a special type of cognitive behavioral therapy designed to treat insomnia, called CBT-i, may help. It aims to correct ingrained patterns of self-defeating behavior and negative thoughts that can rob you of sufficient amounts of sleep. In fact, the American College of Physicians now recommends CBT-i over medications as the first-line treatment for insomnia.
If disability is a source of stress, changes in your home may help you live more independently. Turn to your doctor, a geriatrician, an occupational therapist, or a staff member at your local council on aging for guidance. Continue reading
There is a ton of good information in this. Read it and reap!
I have posted previously on:
How important is a good night’s sleep?
Super tools for handling stress
Our Better Health
Anxiety seems to be a near-universal condition. In the United States alone, approximately 40 million adults – or 18 percent of the population – suffer from an anxiety disorder.
And these numbers represent only the diagnosed (i.e. reported). The actual number is likely to be significantly higher.
The truth is that society is somewhat to blame (not to negate our own sense of responsibility.) We’ve managed to build a 24/7 “constantly connected” infrastructure that has permeated into schools, businesses and elsewhere. Many people are under constant pressure to succeed; most ironically by leveraging this very infrastructure. This only exacerbates the problem.
“Prevention is the best cure” is a universal axiom within the medical community, including within the mental health sphere. Understanding what “triggers” certain symptoms or condition can – in some instances – drastically reduce the likelihood of a symptom or episode.
Here, we focus on ten established “triggers” that…
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“My job creates so much stress.” “My marriage is so stressful.” “The holidays are always a stressful time of year.” We hear the word “STRESS” so often, we are almost immune to the REAL HARM it often produces. It is NOT just a NOUN or VERB. It is an EMOTION that causes SERIOUS HEALTH COMPLICATIONS […]
via STRESS ISN’T REALLY THAT DANGEROUS; IS IT? — All About Healthy Choices
After reading this superb explanation of the damage stress wreaks on your body, please check out my post – Some super tools for handling stress. There is an answer for it.
Regular readers know that I am a senior citizen; will be 77 in January. So, I have a lot of senior friends. We have all experienced ‘senior moments’ when we find our memory becoming slightly elusive. Because my family has had Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia I am particularly sensitive to any brain stuff. So I was impressed with the suggestions that Harvard brought forward regarding enhancing our memory.
The way you live, what you eat and drink, and how you treat your body can affect your memory just as much as your physical health and well-being. Here are five things you can do every day to keep both your mind and body sharp.
1. Manage your stress. The constant drumbeat of daily stresses such as deadline pressures or petty arguments can certainly distract you and affect your ability to focus and recall. But the bigger problem is an ongoing sense of anxiety — that can lead to memory impairment. If you don’t have a strategy in place for managing your stress, protecting your memory is one reason to get one. Deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and a “mindful” approach to living can all help.
I have posted a number of times on stress. You can find them by searching s t r e s s in the box at the right. If you want one excellent example check out: Super tools for handling stress.
In view of the upcoming elections, I thought this was a particularly timely post. Whether you want to trumpet the Donald or pillory Hillary, there are some worthwhile ideas here.
Our Better Health
Imagine getting into a political discussion with someone who is highly passionate about their beliefs. If the conversation is a good one, those beliefs will likely, at some point, come under question. If their emotional PH is high enough, they’ll interpret that as not only their ideas being threatened, but their identities too. Soon, you’re not having a conversation anymore, but a back-and-forth defense match. It’s not about listening, it’s about being right. You reach for over-generalizations, they argue with singular, personal anecdotes, you make sweeping assumptions, cite studies you read once-upon-a-time, their faces widen with bewilderment at how you cannot possibly see what’s so logical and self-evident to them.
This is a really common example of what happens when people allow their emotions to color their thoughts.
Being passionate is fine. Feeling a lot is fine. But when you lose your ability to differentiate what you feel from what…
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This being the weekend, I thought it appropriate to offer some ideas on how good it is to laugh.
Most people have back pain at some time or another in their lives. WebMD says, “Most people have experienced back pain sometime in their lives. The causes of back pain are numerous; some are self-inflicted due to a lifetime of bad habits. Other back pain causes include accidents, muscle strains, and sports injuries. Although the causes may be different, most often they share the same symptoms.”
Back pain is one of the most common complaints that show up in the Emergency Room, according to Alan G. Shepard, M.D., Neurologist, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, speaking to the Northwestern Memorial Healthy Transitions Program®.
“Some 60 to 90 percent of the population will experience back pain in their lifetime.
“Back pain is second only to upper respiratory infection as a cause for lost work time.
“Over 5 million people are disabled with low back pain which makes it the number one disability for workers less than 45 years old.
“The bad news is that no definitive diagnosis will be found in over 80 percent of the back pain cases.
“The good news is that over 90 percent of patients, even those with sciatica, will be better in two months regardless of the type of therapy given.
“Determining which patient with back pain is the ‘true emergency’ is one of the biggest diagnostic challenges that an emergency medicine physician can face. ”
WEbMD says to call your doctor if:
- You feel numbness, tingling, or weakness in your groin, arms or legs; this may signal damage to the spinal cord. Seek immediate medical help.
- The pain in your back extends downward along the back of the leg; you may be suffering from sciatica.
- The pain increases when you cough or bend forward at the waist; this can be the sign of a herniated disc.
- The pain is accompanied by fever, burning during urination, or frequent and/or urgent urination. You may have an infection.
- You begin to have problems controlling your bowels or bladder; seek immediate medical help.
None of us escapes stress in our lives. When we deal with it positively we escape its damage and grow stronger in the bargain.
Check out the following posts for more on stress reduction:
How to deal with a day of stress
Some super tools for handling stress
Yesterday I had a series of events that would have had my hands trembling with frustration and stress a year ago. However, I have been using some tools for dealing with stress that served me very well. Maybe this recounting will help you to do the same.
The day started with a dentist visit. That wasn’t the stressor. I was simply having a crown fitted. The problem was that the appointment was at 9:00 AM. The weather forecast said very hot.
All the while I could feel the bike path beckoning
Stressor number one. Normally, I would be out first thing in the morning to ride my bicycle and avoid the afternoon’s extreme heat. But, I couldn’t because I had to go to the dentist. A year ago, I would have raced off to the dentist fretting about how hot it was going to be and all the attendant difficulties. I chose not to. The dentist visit was something I needed to do and I decided that I would adjust my riding accordingly even if it meant riding in hotter weather than I would have liked. It was simply a matter of priorities. I looked at it in a positive way. When I finished with the appointment I relaxed and walked home, I didn’t race home to save seconds and stress myself further. I changed clothes, got the dog and went downstairs to the bike room.
Stressor number two. My bicycle speedometer battery had died. I needed to go to the bike shop and get it replaced. That would set me back at least a further 15 minutes. Take a deep breath; let it out slow. Okay, I could deal with that. The alternative of riding without a speedometer and odometer was not acceptable as how many miles I ride is relevant to me. I rode down to the bike shop.
Stressor number three. My two regular bike mechanics weren’t there. They are familiar with my speedometer and have changed the batteries before. I was going to be stuck a longer time as the new guy figured out the workings of the little gadget. Take a deep breath; let it out slow. Okay, it’s still a day I can ride. So, that is a plus for me. Just a little further delay to deal with. The new guy got it changed, reprogrammed and I was ready to go. The charge $3.00. No biggie. But wait, it rained the other day and I had to hang up my cycling shorts to dry out. I keep my money in the pocket. The shorts are still hanging up in the bathroom and I am wearing a different pair. I have no money! Take a deep breath; let it out slow.
I like these eight simple mental actions. They can clearly make a mountain of difference in your daily life if your aren’t practicing them.
These reminded me of the ideas from Dr. Maggie Crowley in Super tools for handling stress. Check it out.
Our Better Health
MARK DENICOLA MARCH 17, 2016
As much as our lives may be impacted by our circumstance, I’m a firm believer that they are far more influenced by our attitude. While we may collectively look down upon certain things, you can almost always find an opposing, positive stance to pretty well everything.
Take a rainstorm, for example. Most would find it annoying, gloomy, and/or unfortunate, but others (such as a farmer) would consider it something to be happy, relieved, and/or excited about.
With so much of our experience being within our control, why do so many of us continually choose to take such pessimistic and negative views towards things? Here is a list of 8 mind shifts that I personally feel could be the keys to finding the always sought-after success and happiness:
(NOTE: Of course there are certain experiences that will be far more difficult to apply these…
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I love the simplicity of this. Truly the best things in life are free.
When I bought my apartment, one of the major selling points was the fact that it overlooks Lake Michigan. My east view gives me sunrises every morning. Truly food for the soul.
To read further on positivity, check out PHow to harness positive psychology for you – Harvard.
For more on number three – stress, check out Super tools for handling stress.
Our Better Health
Which of these uncomplicated activities to you do most days?
Do these most days and it will help protect your mental health.
1. Dwell on the positive
Positive memories could be used as a way to help boost mental well-being, new research finds.
People in the study were asked to focus on positive social memories.
Participants focused on their own positive feelings from that memory as well as on the positive feelings of the other person.
The results showed that people felt socially safer and more positive and relaxed after the exercise.
At the same time feelings of guilt and fear were reduced.
2. Drink some tea
Tea is both calming and can make you feel more alert.
It improves cognitive performance in the short-term and may help fight Alzheimer’s in the long-term.
Finally, it is linked to better mental health.
I’ll raise a cup to that!
From: Tea: 6…
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It’s nice to hear your own ideas come out of someone else’s brain. To amplify this very useful post, check out these posts:
How much do you need to exercise?
Super tools for handling stress
Sleep habits affect weight loss and more
I have a Page on How important is a good night’s sleep?
Lastly, there is a cute video on Positive Psychology.
Our Better Health
Elson M. Haas, MD
What is called “Preventive Medicine” in America in the 21st Century is really more appropriately termed early intervention and early diagnosis. Having immunization injections or taking tests such as x-rays and mammograms, prostate exams, and blood tests are not really preventive in nature. Rather, they are an attempt to detect diseases in an early state. What is promoted as cancer prevention with the use of mammograms or prostate exams, sigmoidoscopes or colonoscopes is really early cancer diagnosis. This is done in hopes that cancer can be aggressively attacked before it spreads and destroys the entire body and life. Cancer represents a state of toxicity and its reaction on cellular mechanisms in the body; it is a disease of our body and not separate from it, and represents some breakdown or misguidance of our intricate immune system. After it occurs, it clearly is difficult to treat without…
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I like this needs overview of the organic machine in which each of us lives. It’s no accident that exercise figures in each of the segments.
Filed under aging, Exercise
How much sleep is optimal for weight loss? Between seven and nine hours a night is best. Less than seven hours increases the risk of obesity approximately 30 percent and adds an extra five pounds on average.
According to Jean-Philippe Chaput, M.Sc., from Laval University in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, and colleagues, current treatments for obesity have been largely unsuccessful in maintaining long-term weight loss, suggesting the need for new insight into the mechanisms that result in altered metabolism and behavior and may lead to obesity, HUFFPOST HEALTH reported.
The increase in body weight in the U.S. population has been paralleled by a reduction in sleep times. For the past four decades, daily sleep duration has decreased by one and a half to two hours, and the proportion of young adults sleeping less than seven hours per night has more than doubled, from 15.6 percent in 1960 to 37.1 percent in 2002.
Sleep deprivation is a serious problem for physical and mental health reasons even when it is mild, according to Dr. Anthony Goodman in The Great Courses course Lifelong Health: Achieving Optimum Well-Being at any Age.
Sleep deprivation is prevalent in all age categories from late teens to the elderly.
The National Sleep Foundation reported that 67 percent of Americans are sleep-deprived. Some 40 percent of Americans sleep less than 7 hours a night and 70 percent sleep less than 8 hours.
College students who have been carefully tested showed that even the slightest decrease in the amount of sleep caused major deficits in their memory and test performance.