By: CLIFFORD M. SONNIE, M.D., M.P.H.
First of all, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year!! Spent mine at my brother’s mooching an excellent meal. Don’t worry, I always do the clean up. Anyways, the day after Christmas I was jogging through Reagan Park and as I usually do, I think about what has gone before me during the past year. Likewise, I think about what 2010 has in store. Following an episode of panic and profuse sweating, I remembered that old custom of the New Year’s resolution.
Everyone wants to either make more money, lose weight, exercise more or whatever comes to mind. I was thinking of something that everyone can do along with whatever resolution they come up with. Relax! No that’s it. Relax.
Stress is a huge cause for a whole litany of problems. It is linked to high blood pressure, heart attacks (do you know how many people have heart attacks caused by stress and when autopsied their arteries are crystal clear?), headaches, gastric problems, muscle aches, insomnia, decreased libido, depression and that just scratches the surface. I know I’ve written about this in the past but it bears repeating.
How do we treat stress? If I knew that, I would bottle it, sell it, make gobs of loot and move to the Bahamas. Unfortunately, all I can do is help. Yes, supplements do help with nutritionally feeding and making stronger the organs involved with handling stress, especially the adrenal gland. But that’s not the answer. It takes you and your lifestyle. Exercise is huge. Just get out and move. Start slow and work up. Do whatever you want. If you hate running or treadmills, then bike, swim, cut down trees, work around the house, whatever. Burning calories is an equal opportunity employer. Anything does it. You just have to do it consistently. Diet helps too. It takes the place of supplements in many cases and gives the body the energy to tolerate the stress. Come on folks. It’s not rocket science.
The thing I want to talk about is mental stress. I find exercise does help but what else can help? Besides winning the lottery and moving to a deserted island? What can help clear your mind? What can help clear that confusion? Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees. What can I do to quiet it so I don’t half to keep treading water so fast? Talk to someone. Talk to a friend, a colleague, a therapist, your clergy, the dog, anyone. Just feel comfortable with whomever you chose. If you are like me and hate sharing, talk to yourself. Don’t be afraid to answer yourself too. I know I do. Talk to God. He does answer. You just got to look for it. Write down how you feel. I can’t tell you how many reams of paper I have written on only to throw it out. It helps. It solidifies the issue and then allows you to see it and address it. Write letters to whomever and don’t send them. OK, sometimes it’s not a bad idea to send them but remember for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Finally, do something for yourself. That’s right. Yourself. Do something that makes you feel good. Anything! (Keep it legal!). Don’t do it for anyone else. Just yourself. You deserve it and you need it too. And yes it could be anything, even just sitting and watching the clouds go by. Twice a year I personally will watch Bowling for Dollars while eating my Hostess Ho-Ho. It’s a catharsis! I digress.
When it comes right down to it, exercise, eat right and treat yourself good. You’ve got to take care of yourself and love yourself before you can help others.
That is my New Years advice. As always check with your family MD or DO before starting any exercise or health program or stop in and I’ll share my Ho-Ho with you. May 2010 be the best year ever and may you all have health, happiness and fulfillment. See you all next year!
Oh Yeah, I forgot. Terri my office manager suggested that I ask you all if there is something you want me to write about. Just call or email and I’ll try to get something together. In the meantime, remember, the smart health care consumer is informed and aware.
Clifford Sonnie, M.D. is the Medical Director of the Balance of Life Clinic