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The Influence of Stress

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Stress influences our lives. It follows us like a shadow when we have to get up, but we don’t want to. It’s right behind us when we go to work, get in line in the supermarket, look for the last parking spot, get the bill for the last car service or find out that we’re running out of money that month. It’s next to us when we have an argument with our partner, complain about the neighbors’ nuisance or have discussions with work colleagues.

Stress has remarkable influences on body, mind and soul. Many people only notice the effects of stress when they get ill. It’s the moment when they realize that something has gone wrong; something was too much. That’s illness. A healthy body can practically defeat any illness – as long as its functions aren’t influenced by negative programs such as stress. Read more...

Art of Relaxation - the Reward Method

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This article leads you through the first step of the REWARD-Method to reduce daily stress: Relaxation. People using this word often think or speak about commercial or public wellness, visiting a spa or taking a holiday.

Relaxation in this context usually means having to go somewhere, to spend money and maybe even being in need of other people (e.g. a therapist) to get one in relaxing mode.

Other people relate relaxation with consuming brain altering substances (such as alcohol, legal or illegal drugs) to forget about the day’s issues or to sit dully in front of the TV not even knowing what they are watching.

However, what we want to talk about here are simple, cheap and healthy methods everybody can integrate into one’s life. You might even know about them – the question is, are they a part of your life yet? Read more...

Healthy Nutrition to Beat Stress

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Did you know that in our intestines more than 70% of the whole body’s immune system is located? Over 100 trillions of microorganisms are working there day and night together with immune cells to provide our body with a strong defense system. The bowel is not only there to digest what we eat and drink, to absorb minerals and vitamins; it does also an important job at eliminating pathogenic bacteria.

This is called the nonspecific defense of our body. Unlike the specific defense, with which we are born, the nonspecific defense gets trained in our childhood, reaching its full developed state in our youth, and getting weaker again in the second half of our life.

As we already know, the immune system plays a vital role if we feel fit and happy or ill. Now, is good news: there are endless possibilities for us to influence the state of our immune system for the good or bad. In many situations we just have to make the ‘right’ decision. Read more...

VVariety - the Key to a Healthy Brain

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How does our brain influence our experience of stress, and how are we able to influence our brain in its way to deal with stress?

Our brain is like a super computer – there are around 100 trillion neurons (nerve pathways) working together, and though its weight is just about 3% of our body weight, it requires around 15% of our entire energy each day. On top of this, several thousands of new neurons are produced each day – as long as it is stimulated by different activities and challenged by learning new things.

The nerve pathways can be compared with streets, used by the neurotransmitters to transport and forward information from one part of the brain to another. Repeating the same activities each day means the very same streets are used and therefore get enlarged, like very well constructed highways. For the brain this is easier; in the same way it is probably easier for you to take the fast and straight highway instead of a small country road. The catch is that your brain becomes lazy and kind of stuck in old patterns.

On the contrary, a “well-trained” brain aids stress reduction and recovery. If our brain has to stay active and flexible it can easily internalize new things and adapt to new situations; this also includes dealing with negative influences. It is challenged to create new “roads” (nerve pathways) out of nowhere and starting to use them, while deconstructing old, no longer useful ones. Read more...

Practicing Awareness

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What comes to your mind when using the word ‘awareness’? Maybe you think about concentration, about a heightened attention – and yes, this is all a big part of it.

But awareness is actually something quite simple. Awareness is what we need and use if we want to do something in an especially attentive or careful way. It also means doing just one thing at a time – it means being focused. Perhaps you already feel reminded of the Zen Buddhism, and that’s right where the practice of awareness has been established and perfected over hundreds of years.

Actually, awareness is something very profound and natural. You can see it when you watch animals in their usual behavior, or look at a child who’s playing, completely involved and absorbed by what it is doing.

During our lives we learn many different social rules: we learn to follow tight schedules, work to deadlines, fulfill roles and act as we’re supposed to. The more rules we learn, the more we lose our natural behavior – and very often we also lose our natural sense of being aware. Our mind is so stuffed with timetables, policies, expectations and aims, that there’s almost no more room for experiencing the moment, the here and now – and this is what awareness is all about. Read more...

4 Ways to Groom your Relationsships

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“Honey, you know we’ve got an invitation from my parents this weekend for dinner. My brother’s also coming.” – “Oh no, does he have to? I can’t stand him, he’s so dominant, he always scolds me, you know that.” – “Please, not this again… I can’t hear it anymore.”…

We all had thousands of conversations like this in our lives. However, they are often highly underestimated in their potential to let our inner stress level raise; not because they are not experienced as stress, but because they seem to be ‘a normal part’ of life or not avoidable.

But this is simply not the case. In lots of situations where we suffer from stressful relations we have the chance to change or alter them. And the good news is – we can do that on our own! Mankind is not made for being lonely.

People are born to be communicative, to meet and exchange experiences and opinions. From the very beginning of the human race people were grouping together, helping each other and profiting from their companionship. Read more...

The Importance of Structure

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Today, one of my patients told me that a few weeks ago she was so disappointed in herself and feeling completely down. The reason for it was that she had two weeks off, alone without her daughter, and she was actually looking forward to it! Not having to follow the usual schedule each day, not having to rush, enjoying lots of time for herself.

But when the holiday actually came, she wasn’t able to enjoy her free time without sticking to a timetable. She felt weak, useless and couldn’t motivate herself to do something.

Why am I telling you this story? Well, first of all, I would like to uncover the myth that relaxation has always to do with NOT doing anything.

Whereas for some people being motionless, taking a nap, meditating or similar might feel like the perfect stress release, for many others it only rises their inner stress level. They tend to fall into a deep dark hole where they feel bad. Read more...