Monday, January 14, 2013

New Year, New Problems!

Although we all make these wonderful resolutions with the start of the New Year, it all too often seems that along with the New Year comes new problems and stresses. New job, new house, new baby on the way and new expenses all play into why we all may feel a little more "stressed out" in the beginning of the year...(on top of trying to stick to those resolutions!)

Recently, I was asked to write about ways to decrease stress, whether it be by holistic means or by medications. Also, what stress may due to the heart. I will defer the stress effects on the heart to by previous blog post here. All though there are other problems that can occur in regards to heart health with anxiety...I will focus on prevention and treatment today.

Preferably, I like holistic means of reducing stress. For me, the kryptonite for stress is simple. Deep Breaths. I find that it is very easy to get "worked up", but very difficult to come down. Sometimes, well, the majority of the time, a few simple deep calming breaths will do the trick. As you breathe, focus on the breath going into your nose or mouth, down your airway, into your lungs and throughout your body. Picture every single step.

Another simple tip is focusing on the things around you. Focus on details. On the color patterns of the flower outside, or the way the wind blows a piece of paper across a parking lot. Sounds ridiculous, right? Well, it's not. Simple focusing techniques have been proven to help reduce stress. If you are focusing so closely on the details, you will tend to forget about what you were stressed out about in the first place!

EXERCISE!! What better way to relieve tension than to sweat it out and pound it out at the gym? Exercise, beyond it's obvious physical health attributes, is wonderful for emotional and behavioral health as well. For me, there is NOTHING better than a good work out for some post-call stress relief!

There is no wonder why the music industry does so well. We turn to music for our heartbreaks, our romance and even our anger. Why not use music for it's healing capabilities as well? For this one, stick to classic music. Research has shown that listening to 30 minutes of classical music may produce calming effects equivalent to taking a 10 mg pill of Valium!

Speaking of Valium....

Are there instances where medication has to be used for anxiety? Sure, that's why they are made! I will say though, that these resources should only be used in special circumstances, and typically if more holistic trials have failed. As a whole, anxiety medication should be reserved for those patients with documented true panic attacks, and patients who have severe anxiety. Sometimes, they are also prescribed to patients prior to medical procedures to help them remain calm, or prior to flying, which is also understandable. In my opinion, these medications should only be used AS NEEDED and should not be a "crutch" for normal stressful situations. We, as a population, need to learn how to deal with stress better, without relying on these medications, which can become addictive and harmful to our health.

For more information about anxiety, please visit


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