Friday, July 30, 2010

Stress the "New" Popular Girl

The Popular Girls
Remember the popular girls in high school? You know the one's that thought they were well ... "all that'. When you're popular everyone wants to be friends with or "hang out"with you. Why? To be popular was to be "cool". Popular means to be included, part of "the" group and to be recognized as important. Being popular sets you apart from the "ordinary". Deep down inside you know you wanted to be popular, even if it was for only a minute.

These days "stress" is the new popular girl. There's not a day that goes by when we don't hear about the stress in all of our lives. Where do we hear about it? Just turn on the TV, you're bombarded by advertisements to "destress" your life. Every product from "relaxing" scents to the latest anti-anxiety medications is right at your fingertips. What about your friends? During any conversation it doesn't take long for the topic to slide into  "how stressful" your job, relationships or just the everyday happenings of life. Everyone everywhere is talking about how their life is surrounded in stressful events and people. There are loads of books about stress too...starting from the baby books, toddler "how to read" books.

It almost seems popular to talk about how stressed you are. Who isn't stressed? Consider this ...What would happen if the next time someone asked how you are doing you answered  "I'm so glad you asked, I'm calm, cool and at ease with the direction of my life."  Gosh, do you think your friend would even know how to respond? If you don't join the "stress party" would you be popular any more? 

Here's a thought ....all this "stress speak" is hurting us."Stress has been examined scientifically for the past twenty years, and there are several things that have become evident. Of most concern is the fact that stress is implicated in the six leading causes of death in this country. This makes stress one of the most toxic of the preventable contributors to illness" (Managing Stress and Anger, University of Maryland)

Perceived and chronic stress causes DNA damage, oxidative stress at the cellular level which means not only the experience of stress (what is happening) but our thinking (perceived) about stress is as damaging to our health. (National Academy of Sciences).

Now just like high school being popular came with a price... so does it now. The price of all this stress is your physical and mental health. What could possibly be more important than good health? If you ask me nothing. My mom was right if you don't have your health well ... need I say more? Is it worth being popular? I say ditch the popular girl and take care of yourself. 

Looking for an easy way to start? How about with what's on your plate? 

Start with the foods you eat. Science tells us the foods we choose to eat can protect your body from DNA damage, oxidative stress and inflammation all of which cause disease. All national health organizations (USDA, AHA, ACS, etc,) promote reducing your risk of chronic disease by adding a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains to our diet. In fact the USDA ( recommends 9 - 13 servings (6 cups) of fruits and vegetables every day.  Add fruits and veggies the easy way (

Wondering what else you can do?

"Sexy 7 Stress Busters".
1. Keep a Journal
2. Daily Affirmations
3. Daily Exercise
4. Set aside a time for relaxation/regrouping
5. Connect with others 
6. Do something you enjoy everyday
7. Reduce unhealthy behaviors 

Being popular in high school wasn't that fun to be or to watch.
For now, if the popular girl is stress I say, ditch the popular girls!
Take care of yourself. If you don't who will? 

Your partner in health,
Cindy Cohen RN, Health Coach

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Granny Was Right We Need Our Beauty Sleep

The topic of the day for the Dr. Oz television program was SLEEP. Dr. Oz’s suggestions are a good start however there are a few more things to consider. For one, my granny. When I was a little girl at bedtime my granny would send me off to bed she gently reminded me why sleep is so important. She would say “you need sleep to grow up to be a big girl, healthy, beautiful and strong.” Granny directly implied if I did not get lots of sleep then there was no growing up for me and if I did, I certainly would not be beautiful. There was no room for discussion. How could my granny be wrong? She was the voice of the expert, at least to me she was.

Now (40 years later) with modern science on our side; I see my granny was right, at least about sleep. Medical experts agree for those who get less than 5 hours of sleep there’s an higher risk of heart disease (strokes, heart attack,), mood disorders (depression, anxiety), diabetes and decreased immunity (autoimmune diseases, allergies, colds, flu). Guess what? Sleep is a beauty treatment too. Lack of sleep causes increased signs of early aging such as weight gain, wrinkles (oxidative stress) and fatigue.

Ayurveda practitioners have long taught the more sleep we get before midnight the more restorative the sleep is. They instruct us go to sleep before 10 p.m. and wake up before 6 a.m.. Why? Body rhythms. The rhythm of our body has sleep and wake cycles. Have you noticed you feel sleepy some parts of the day and more awake during other parts of the day. You may have experienced the 3 pm slump. This is rhythm of our body. If you would like to wake up easier and fall asleep easier try waking up before 6 a.m. and going to bed before 10 p.m.. See how you feel. And that 3 p.m. slump? Try a quick 15 minute nap instead of caffeine. You certainly will feel more refreshed and will be more productive.

Ever hear “she sleeps like a baby” as a description of a good nights sleep? Baby’s wake up every 2 hours, then go back to sleep. Huumm why would we expect any different for us? It is normal for sleep to be in cycles, 2 hour ones. We drift in and out of deep sleep and light asleep all night.

During the light sleep if you hear a noise, see a light, look at the clock or experience other distractions you will wake up.  To prevent fully waking up use a sleep mask to keep those eyes closed and ear plugs to keep the noise out. As cute as that pet is you have, keep them out of your bed. You both will sleep better.If you wake up because you’re thirsty or hungry, keep a light snack and water by the bed. Use a night light with a blue bulb if you get out of bed.

Food effects sleep too. The more whole foods you eat the better your will sleep. Foods to eat more of to rest better are soy products (soy milk, tofu, soybeans), whole grains (rice, pasta, breads), beans, hummus, lentils, nuts and eggs. Herbal teas are nice, Chamomile tea will help you to rest if taken just before bedtime. Foods that may keep you stay awake or interrupt your sleep are all forms of caffeine, sweets (sugar) and starchy vegetables eaten near bedtime.

There are also, herbs, vitamins, and minerals you can add to your sleep regimen for that advice you will need a health coach, your doctor or medical profession.

Remember your health is your responsibility.

After all if you don't take care of yourself, who will?

Sleep tight!

Cindy Cohen RN, Health Coach

C2 Your Health LLC

I agree with the 8 tips from Dr. Oz on sleep hygiene:

1. Obey the 15-minute rule – if you are not asleep get up
2. Reserve the bed for sleep and sex only
3. Wake up the same time every day
4. Make the environment favorable for sleep
5. Power down – make a bedtime ritual
6. Put the head to rest – avoid exercise
7. Stay clear of sleep stealers - , alcohol and caffeine near bedtime
8. Get help if you need it

Click here to read Dr Oz article on sleep