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Don¡¯t let stress dull the holiday sparkle
(BPT) For many, the pressure of the holiday sea-
son can be enough to wear away the glitter and
Some 62 percent of American adults define their
stress as ¡°very or somewhat¡± elevated over the
holidays, says research cited by Harvard Medical
School¡¯s Department of Neurobiology.
But that old chestnut doesn¡¯t have to be true for
you. When you plan and keep your expectations
reasonable, the season can unfold at an even
and enjoyable pace, making room for new, happy
That¡¯s doubly true
when you are
When you¡¯re well
prepared, your
event can create
holiday cheer and
goodwill and even
strengthen bonds
between friends
and family. Consider how these entertaining tips
can help you stage a minimal-stress, maximum-
impact event at which your guests can relax this
holiday season.
1. Make your list, check it twice. Assign tasks
to different days leading up to the event so you
can stay on task, factoring in time you¡¯ll need for
other holiday happenings.
2. Enlist elves. It¡¯s likely unrealistic to expect
yourself to single-handedly master all the cook-
ing, cleaning and mingling your event will in-
volve. In the spirit of the season, consider hiring
younger family members to help with the more
grueling tasks - then paying them with Christmas
shopping money.
3. Bring on (then freeze) the figgy pudding. Let¡¯s
face it, many dishes taste just as good or better
when prepared ahead of time and frozen or sim-
ply kept in the fridge until they¡¯re ready to serve.
Save the last hours leading to your event for reci-
pes that will taste much better freshly made and/
or hot out of the oven.
4. Save time on sides. Instead of diverting your
time peeling and mashing potatoes or shredding
cheese, turn to instantly delicious refrigerated
side dishes like Bob Evans Original Mashed Pota-
toes or Macaroni & Cheese. Rich with real butter
and milk, your guests will never guess they¡¯re not
homemade. Insider tip: Keep a secret stash on
hand for unexpected company.
spirituality and
religion had
different im-
pacts on health.
Anthony Cannon,
MD, a psychia-
trist resident at
University in Chi-
cago, released
results from his
study examining
the quality of life
of cancer survi-
vors depending
upon their level
of spirituality
and religiosity.
They found that
people with high
spirituality had a
better quality of
life, regardless
2017 December/January
Pg 6 - The Sunshine Express
Health & Nurturing
of whether they considered themselves of low or
high religiosity.
Numerous studies show that people with high spiri-
tual participation live healthier and they live longer.
One can only speculate what causal pathway is
responsible for this benefit, whether it be their faith,
the psychological or physical results of faith itself, or
related demographics, socioeconomic status, health
behaviors or social connections.
Praying on someone else¡¯s behalf, if they are un-
aware of the praying, doesn¡¯t create the benefits of
praying for oneself. If patients are aware of oth-
ers praying on their behalf then there seems to be
some benefit. Again, it¡¯s not clear whether faith,
good intention or a holy spirit is at work here, but it
works to improve quality of life, reducing markers of
disease such as pain, and even biochemical markers
that measure blood pressure, inflammation or stress
Of note, most patients with health issues do pray for
relief from their physical and mental suffering, but
the intention of their prayers is not only for healing.
Rather, prayer can be a means for allowing patients
to positively improve the experience of their illness.
Along the same lines, it is clear that mental attitude
and behaviors independent of spirituality or religion
also impart significant health benefits. Illness can be
triggered or treated by mental events. Consider the
¡°broken heart syndrome¡± in which a traumatic event
can lead to heart failure.
The ¡®Heart and Soul Study¡¯, published in the Ar-
chives of General Psychiatry, examined over 1000
people with generalized anxiety disorder and found
that they had a 74% increased risk for cardiovas-
cular events, defined as ¡°stroke, heart failure, heart
attack, transient ischemic attack, and death.¡± Two
studies from the June 29, 2010 issue of the Jour-
nal of the American College of Cardiology reach the
same conclusion - that anxiety increases the risk
factor for heart disease ¨C with one study showing
double the risk.
Other research uncovers a link between depression
and heart disease. The SADHART study from Sep-
tember 2009 issue of the Archives of General Psy-
chiatry found that people who became depressed,
for the first time, after a cardiac event were twice
as likely to die in the following 7 years. A somewhat
surprising finding of the study was that patients
who devel-
oped depres-
sion only after
their heart at-
tack were just
as likely to die
as patients
with a history
of depression.
A 2012 study
in ¡®Circula-
tion: Car-
Quality and
the benefit of
meditation for
the secondary
prevention of
The group that meditated twice daily for 20
minutes was found after 5 years to have 48%
reduction in cardiovascular events. A 2013 study
in the Journal of the American College of Cardiol-
ogy showed that practicing yoga twice a week for
just one hour reduced the number of episodes of
an abnormal heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation
by 45%.
It appears that mental attitude can even impact
our genes. The relaxation response is the oppo-
site of stress and is achieved by activity such as
meditation, yoga or prayer. A 2013 study released
in PloS One examined the impact of the relax-
ation response on gene expression and found
that regular relaxation activity increased expres-
sion of genes associated with energy metabolism,
mitochondrial function, insulin secretion and the
maintenance of longevity genes called telomeres.
It also reduced the expression of genes associ-
ated with inflammation and stress pathways.
The common theme here is that one does have
the ability to use the mind to impact not only
their health today, but in the future, and even
the health of future generations by turning on or
off parts of the inherited genetic code. Personal
faith, or the regular practice of relaxing activities
ranging from prayer, to meditation or yoga, even
walking in nature, is one of your best medicines.
(Scott Rollins, MD, is Board Certified with the
American Board of Family Practice and the
American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative
Medicine. He specializes in Bioidentical Hormone
Replacement for men and women, thyroid and
adrenal disorders, fibromyalgia, weight loss and
other complex medical conditions. He is founder
and medical director of the Integrative Medicine
Center of Western Colorado (
and Bellezza Laser Aesthetics (www.bellezzalaser.
com). Call 970.245.6911 for an appointment or
more information.)
In Harmony
by Scott Rollins, M.D.
Mind, body AND spirit
influence your health
Can the mind really exert a significant influ-
ence on your health, and how does spiritual-
ity or religiosity play a role?
Does faith in and of its self confer health
benefits, and if so, does it matter if you go
to church? It is becoming clear that a high
level of spirituality, as well as simply having
a good attitude, can have profound effects
on your health.
While spirituality has many different mean-
ings, it generally refers to an individual¡¯s
sense of the meaning of life and their role
in the bigger cosmos. It can mean tuning
in to one¡¯s inner self through shared beliefs
and religious practices, such as church or
synagogue, but it also can also mean private
prayer, yoga, meditation, communing with
nature or just taking a long walk. Religion is
fairly defined as the conduit through which
people practice their shared spirituality.
Historically, and perhaps still yet, the role
of religion and spirituality was challenged
with the emergence of the science and rea-
son that came out of the European ¡°age of
enlightenment¡±. Figures such as American
author and minister Ralph Waldo Emerson
attempted to create a space for spirituality
between the rigid boundaries of scientific
materialism and religious orthodoxy. They
tried to find a marriage, if you will, of the
science and spirit.
The mind-body aspects of health have been
thoroughly analyzed and we continue to
revisit this age-old paradigm, finding strong
evidence that mental attitude and behav-
ior has a profound effect on not just your
health, but even that of your offspring.
There are numerous studies that should give
us cause to seriously examine our personal
beliefs and attitudes as they influence our
health as much as any modern treatment.
A recent study set out to determine if
Making Happy Memories