When will you be taking your sick days?

Duvet time is good.jpgA survey conducted by a nutritional supplement company found that 71% were most likely to take a sicky in January. I doubt any of us are surprised by that revelation.

January is traditionally the most depressing month of the year; at least two more months of being cold and miserable. Gone are the nightly parties and good cheer and we are left with weakened immune systems/credit cards to add to our SAD.

January is not the only month to inspire the odd sicky. The unpredicted warm day/football tournament/random hangover (delete as appropriate) have long been traditional reasons for an unplanned day off.

There are quite a few reasons for working days to be lost at the moment. Maybe you have been trapped by the great billows of early snow, or the treacherous ice sheets left behind. Maybe you are one of the unlucky people succumbing to the Norovirus or an annoying little cold.

Someone very wise once told me that it was a complete waste to have a day off when you actually felt sick and that you should save them for when you really couldn’t face the world.

We think that sick days have a very necessary place in our busy and stressful ‘modern’ lives. We spend most of our time rushing about, not getting enough sleep and probably not eating very well. So when a bad cold or the need to have a duvet day rears its head, it is our duty to make sure we slow down for a few hours at least.

Being stressed affects your mind and body; people suffering from stress are much more likely to become unwell so it makes sense to stop when your body tells you to.

So when January rolls around after the hectic mess of Christmas will you be among those putting on your best sick voice to call the boss?

You never know, the predicted arrival of more snow might provide a timely excuse for some quality duvet time.

 

FREE sleep CD worth ÂŁ4.99 for every reader!

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Pure Sleep is music for the mind, body and spirit. This unique hour of music has been created especially to help your mind and body prepare for peaceful, replenishing sleep. Tracks include: Pure Sleep, Distant Dreams, Dance with The Angels, Childhood Memories, Special Star, Moonlight Dreaming, A New Awakening and The Rising Sun.

This fantastic CD is FREEÂ…just pay ÂŁ1.62 postage! (Please note that this offer applies for mailings to UK addresses only).

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Healthy lifestyle boosts anti-ageing enzyme

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Los Angeles: A healthy diet, taking regular exercise and relaxing can boost levels of a longevity enzyme, say scientists.

In a new study scientists measured levels of the telomerase enzyme in men who were required to make positive lifestyle changes. The men were suffering from low-risk prostate cancer.

The patients ate a diet low in sugar and fats and rich in whole foods, fruits and vegetables. They were also required to walk at least 30 minutes daily and take part in anti-stress exercises.

The researchers, whose report has appeared in the medical journal, The Lancet Oncology, measured the amount of the enzyme after three months. The results revealed that levels in the blood has increased by 29 per cent , along with a drop in LDL(bad) cholesterol.
The bottom line is that the enzyme helps support the length of telomeres – these are tiny protectors of the DNA and keep inflammation and other ageing activity away from them. The length of telomeres is an indicator of biological ageing.

As people age, their telomeres get shorter and they become more susceptible to certain illnesses which are associated with ageing.

Experts believe this process is at the heart of many age-related diseases, and may even place a final limit on human lifespan.

Professor Dean Ornish, of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, Sausalito, California, who led the study, said increases in telomerase levels were beneficial and could be quickly changed.

He said: “To our knowledge, we have reported here the first longitudinal study showing that comprehensive lifestyle changes – or any intervention – are significantly associated with increases in cellular telomerase activity levels.

“The implications of this study are not limited to men with prostate cancer.Comprehensive lifestyle changes may cause improvements in telomerase and telomeres that may be beneficial to the general population as well.Larger studies are needed.”

STRESS

Don’t be a hot sleeping beauty

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London: Beat summer insomnia with top tips plus advice from the free consumer ‘Good Sleep Guide’, in association with Dr Chris Idzikowski.

The Great British Summer is well and truly upon us, to the delight of many, but the warmer weather can be extremely detrimental to our sleep patterns.

Fewer hours of darkness and a rise in temperature mean that getting a good night’s sleep becomes far more difficult than it would usually be.Poor quality sleep is known to lead to problems with learning, memory, concentration and low mood.
Keeping cool at night and blocking out early morning sunshine is essential for a good night’s sleep according to the experts. With this is mind, TEMPUR offers some top tips on how to beat summer insomnia, including some advice from sleep expert and director of the Edinburgh Sleep Center Dr Chris Idzikowski, taken from ‘The Good Sleep Guide’, a free consumer advice guide to the perfect night’s sleep*:

Control room temperature

Scientists have discovered that a slight dip in body temperature is a trigger for sleep – Dr Chris Idzikowski suggests the ideal sleeping temperature is between 17 and 18°C. According to The Sleep Council**, our deepest sleep occurs when our biological clock temperature is at its lowest – usually around 4am, making a cool bedroom key to a good night’s sleep.

TIP: In hot weather that’s not always easy to achieve, so close curtains and open windows during the day to help prevent heat building up inside and leave your bedroom window open at night to let the cool air in Save the sunshine for your waking hours.

Exposing your eyes to light during sleeping hours affects the brain’s production of the hormone melatonin which promotes sleep.

TIP: Minimise early morning sunshine with blackout blinds and distance light sources at night such as alarm clocks with strong LED displays Make time for sleep Warm, summer nights might provide the perfect excuse to stay up late, but findings in the UK*** over the last 40 years show the average daily sleep for adults is about 7ÂĽ hours – the same it was a hundred ago. Mortality seems to be lowest in those sleeping around 7 hours a night so getting a good night’s sleep can literally be a life-saver.

A good mattress matters

Adults spend up to a third of their lives in bed**** and while there is no perfect bed, pillow or position that is right for everyone, a quality mattress is vital for a good night’s sleep. Experts recommend mattresses be changed every eight to ten years.

On conventional mattresses the body needs to adjust during the night due to unrelieved pressure, which restricts blood flow, with warm summer bedrooms leading to more tossing and turning than in the winter months.

TIP: Invest in a mattress made of pressure-relieving material which moulds to the exact shape and position of the body. TEMPUR Mattresses support the spine in the correct position, easing back pain, arthritis and sciatica and providing optimum support throughout the night. TEMPUR Mattresses have been shown to reduce tossing and turning by 83%. Some mattresses retain heat which can make them very warm, whereas TEMPUR Mattresses have been specially designed to allow air to pass through the material freely- ensuring a cooler, more comfortable night’s sleep.

Eat to sleep

Avoid summer food favourites containing tyramine (cheese, ham, aubergines, pepperoni, raspberries, avocado and red wine) which can keep you awake at night as they release norepinephrine, a brain stimulant.

TIP: If you get the munchies close to bedtime, eat something that triggers the hormone serotonin, which helps to promote sleep. Carbohydrates such as bread or cereal will do the trick.

TEMPUR, the manufacturer of pressure relieving pillows and mattresses, has got together with respected sleep expert Dr Chris Idzikowski – Director of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre with more than 20 years experience in sleep research and medicine – to create ‘The Good Sleep Guide’, an easy-to-follow leaflet to help you get the perfect night’s sleep.

For FREE copies of ‘The Good Sleep Guide’ for you, your friends or family, or for more information about TEMPUR Products, please contact TEMPUR on 08000 111081 or email sleepadvice@tempur.co.uk

Other useful sites for sleep issues:
** Sleep Council
*** Loughborough Sleep Research Centre
**** Edinburgh Sleep Centre

About TEMPUR TEMPUR®

Mattresses are made from unique TEMPUR Material, a proprietary, open celled, temperature sensitive material that conforms to and supports the individual user by evenly distributing body weight. The basis for the TEMPUR pressure relieving material was originally developed by NASA to protect astronauts against G Forces during lift off and re-entry to the earth’s atmosphere. Today TEMPUR is the only producer of mattresses and pillows worldwide to be endorsed by NASA and certified by the Space Foundation.
TEMPUR Products are recommended by over 30,000 medical professionals worldwide, and their beneficial properties are supported by clinical research. A trial at the Institution for Clinical & Physiological Research at the Lillhagen Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden tested 23,000 patients over an eight year period of home and clinical use of the TEMPUR Mattress and Pillow. Patients suffered less pain, experienced enhanced deep sleep, and an 83% reduction in tossing and turning when using TEMPUR Products.

A whole host of celebrities are now claiming they have found the perfect sleeping partner – their TEMPUR Mattress including George Michael, Jane Seymour, Paris Hilton, The England Rugby Team, Paul McCartney, David Blaine, The Ozbournes, Kyran Bracken, Claire Sweeney, Charlie Dimmock, Susan Hampshire and Noel Gallagher.
TEMPUR Mattress prices start from ÂŁ675, and TEMPUR Pillows are priced from ÂŁ69.95. For more information about TEMPUR Products, call 08000 111081 or visit Tempur

Win tickets to the Country Living Spring Fair London

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London: Green fingered garden lovers, shopping enthusiasts, fashionistas and foodies are being encouraged to get into the swing of spring as the Country Living Magazine Spring Fair returns to the Business Design Centre in London. Held on the 12-16th March 2008 in Islington, this annual springtime event captures the very essence of this vibrant season all under one roof.

There are five pairs of tickets worth ÂŁ14.50 each. Email us with your name and address at readeroffer@elixirnews.com with Country Fair in the email header by 4 March 2008. No cash equivalent is being offered and the Editor’s decision is final.

Now in its 17th year, the Fair sees hundreds of exclusive designers, craftspeople and small producers showcasing the finest in British crafts, home furnishings, specialist beauty products, unique jewellery and fashions as well as the best in homemade food and drink. A visit to the Fair is the perfect opportunity to banish those winter blues and embrace spring by stocking up on gorgeous, one of a kind items for yourself, your home and your garden.

Explore the craft demonstration area and watch various craftsmen at work. Using a range of traditional techniques a wood turner, furniture maker and stonemason will be demonstrating their fascinating crafts.

In the Lifestyle Theatre, a diverse range of talks and demonstrations will be taking place over the duration of the Fair, where visitors can learn more about topics such as flower arranging and holistic remedies. Pick up some springtime interior inspirations from colour consultant Joa Studholme of renowned decorative paint and wallpaper company Farrow and Ball. Learn more about mushrooms and cultivating a climate change garden from River Cottage.

Foodies and self pronounced connoisseurs of British produce should not miss the FairÂ’s fabulous Food Hall. Sample fresh flavours from many of the countryÂ’s finest producers and indulge yourself in the endless selection of fine wines, traditional pies, artisan breads, delicious preserves and sweet Easter treats.

Shoppers can enjoy a complimentary glass of wine as they indulge in some late-night shopping at the Gala Evening, held on Wednesday 12th of March. ÂŁ4 from every Gala Evening ticket sold will be donated to The Field Studies Council (FSC), this yearÂ’s Country Living Magazine Spring Fair charity affiliate. The FSC is an environmental education organisation committed to helping young people understand and appreciate the natural world through field trips and cross-curricular courses.

HereÂ’s a sneak preview at some of this yearÂ’s Spring Fair exhibitors:

Giddy Kipper

Using their fascination for the seaside as inspiration, Heidi Bowmen and Steve Clawson create a range of original and quirky products for the home. From boat bookends and polka dot peg boards to rustic hanging mirrors, each item is crafted from new or reclaimed timber and then personally hand painted by the duo in an array of vibrant colours. Products from Giddy Kipper are sure to bring the colourful charm of Spring into your home.

Bradleys the Tannery

This independent leather tannery, based in heart of Shropshire, brings the traditional methods of leather making to whole new heights. Bradleys the Tannery create handcrafted leather and suede gardening tools and accessories in a lively selection of colours. As well as aprons, gloves, bags and hats, Bradleys the Tannery also have an assortment of tools in beautiful coloured pouches to choose from.

Katherine Hooker

Much like the designer herself, each of Katherine HookerÂ’s designs are entirely individual and a gorgeous fusion of vintage East Coast America and contemporary England. Classic elegance meets modern chic define the essence of each piece, from beautifully sculpted coats and jackets to skirts, dresses and accessories. Choose from KatherineÂ’s gorgeous new ready to wear Spring collection or liaise with the designer herself to create your own unique garment from over 150 different fabrics including tweeds, silks, linens and cashmeres.

Cornish Cheese Company

Artisan cheesemaking is the Cornish Cheese CompanyÂ’s speciality, producing a delicious young blue cheese to rival other British blue cheeses. The distinctive handmaking process used to make each round, paired with the unique texture, flavour and character of the cheese, have earned this farm based business many prestigious and well deserved awards.

Ticket Prices: Advance Door

Adult ÂŁ11.00 ÂŁ14.50

Adult Country Living Subscriber ÂŁ10.00 ÂŁ14.50

Gala Evening ÂŁ11.00 ÂŁ12.50

Gala & Sunday Shop ÂŁ15.00 ÂŁ17.50

OAP ÂŁN/A ÂŁ11.00

Children 5-16 ÂŁ6.50 ÂŁ8.00

Under 5Â’s Free Free

For further information and to book tickets, please visit www.countrylivingfair.com or call 08701 261 800

Couples who row live longer

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Michigan: Couples who row over their differences are more likely to live longer than those who bottle up stress.

This is the conclusion of reserach at the University of Michigan School of Public Health where scientists studied 192 couples over 17 years, placing them into four categories.

The first consisted of couples where both partners communicated their anger and the second of couples where the husband showed anger while the wife suppressed it.

The third comprised couples where only the wife showed anger; and the fourth relationships where both parties suppressed it. The researchers found that death during the period of the study was twice as likely in the final group than in all other types.

The trend was evident even when other factors such as age, smoking, weight, blood pressure, bronchial problems and cardiovascular risk were taken into account.

Longevity experts have long said that stress is one of the biggest killers and leads to inflammation and diseases of ageing such as heart disease.

Within the 26 couples where both suppressed their anger, there were 13 deaths.

However, in the remaining three groups, 166 couples in total, there were only 41 deaths combined, half the rate.

Ernest Harburg, professor emeritus at the University said: ‘When couples get together, one of their main jobs is reconciliation about conflict.

Professor Harburg stressed that the preliminary figures are small, and that researchers are now collecting follow-up data spread over 30 years.

Acupuncture can relieve Xmas stress

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London: *One in five Britons suffers from stress during the festive season. Tiredness, lack of exercise, an overload of people, alcohol, food, spending and over-excited children can all contribute to increasing levels of stress.

Beverly Dickins, acupuncturist and British Acupuncture Council member said the pressures at this time of year can have a very real impact on our well-being.

“From shopper’s backache and Christmas dinner panic to December dehydration and over-spending insomnia, the festive season is a stressful time for many of us,” she said.

“The most common symptom of stress is a breakdown in your immune system, leaving you susceptible to colds and illness. Eating fattening foods, taking less exercise and stressful situations between family members can really take its toll on your health.”

“Holistic therapies such as acupuncture can help you cope with these demands and enable you to stay on top of things.”

Stress, anger, or any intense emotion acts like a traffic jam, blocking the free flow of energy in the body. One of the many symptoms people who are very stressed experience is upper back, shoulder and neck pain. This is because stress causes the ‘snarling up’ of the energy passing through channels in these areas causing pain, tension and stiffness – often resulting in headaches as well.

Through acupuncture, these energy blockages can be addressed. Acupuncture can help energy flow smoothly, and alleviate not only the symptoms of stress and anxiety, but the underlying stress and anxiety itself.

In addition, acupuncture improves circulation of blood throughout the body. The calming nature of acupuncture also helps decrease heart rate, lowers blood pressure and relaxes the muscles.

Beverley said as the winter days become shorter and colder and with most of us trying to cram in last minute work, many people will start to feel tired and rundown as the festive season approaches.

“In over 25 years of practice I have been continually impressed at the breadth and power of acupuncture as it has something for everyone and can really help in situations like this,” she said.

“Acupuncture can assist with the following symptoms:

Feeling unwell and tired – acupuncture can elevate your mood and return good energy levels to your body

Feeling stressed – acupuncture can calm you down and you can learn how to stimulate acupressure points to assist with ongoing anxiety

Hangovers and eating to excess- acupuncture’s capacity to cleanse the organs can help restore wellbeing after diet and alcohol excess.”

To find your nearest qualified British Acupuncture Council practitioner please visit < ahref="http://www.acupuncture.org.uk">www.acupuncture.org.uk or call T: + 44 (0)20 8735 0400

About the British Acupuncture Council
The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) has a membership of over 2,800 professionally qualified acupuncturists and is the UK’s largest professional body for the practice of acupuncture.

BAcC members practise a traditional, holistic style of acupuncture diagnosis and treatment based on a system developed and refined over 2,000 years. To achieve BAcC membership, practitioners must first undertake extensive training in traditional acupuncture (minimum three years full-time or part-time equivalent), which includes physiology, anatomy and other biomedical sciences appropriate to the practice of acupuncture.

*Research courtesy of www.mind.org.uk

Find out how to manage your stress with expert help

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London: From full inboxes and bleeping blackberries to lengthy commutes and automated messages, modern technology in the 21st Century doesn’t always make life easier. We’re working longer hours, sleeping less than ever and with global markets creating competition beyond our borders, pressure at work has never been so stark.

With so much on our plate, it’s hardly surprising that stress levels are rising. The number of working days lost due to stress in 2006-07 is estimated to be 13.7 million according to the latest statistics from the Health and Safety Executive. That’s a significant rise on last year so what are we getting so wrong?

Wednesday 7th November is National Stress Awareness Day and in a working world that never sleeps, it’s important to ensure we don’t neglect ourselves.

A recent study conducted by Philip Stein TESLAR, in association with the International Stress Management Association and Goldsmiths the jeweller, examined 25 stressed out entrepreneurs eager to reduce the stress in their lives. The participants took part in a Heart Rate Variability (HRV) test with Dr. Nyjon Eccles, BSc PhD MBBS MRCP, at his Harley Street practice. Each participant was given a Philip Stein TESLAR watch – a watch that contains a special de-stressing technology. After 5 weeks of wearing the watch, the participants received a second HRV test to discover the effects.

Benefits of wearing the watch include a more restful night time sleep, a reduction in stress and jet lag, improved concentration, increased levels of energy and an overall improvement of wellbeing.

Joining us online to discuss the findings is participant, Andy Henderson, a Derivatives Trainer, RFU Referee and Actor, Dermot Dennehy, UK MD of Philip Stein TESLAR and Jane Thomas, Chair of the International Stress Management Association, who will also be offering some top tips on how to manage our stress levels.

Dermot Dennehy, Andy Henderson and Jane Thomas join us online at web chat on Wednesday 7th November at 9am (GMT) to help us unwind with some top stress-busting tips.

Other useful links: www.philipsteinteslar.com

International Stress Management Association www.nationalstressawarenessday.co.uk

Sleeping problems? – get free expert advice from the Sleep Clinic in today’s web chat

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London: Are you one of those people who find it difficult to switch off before bedtime? How many nights have you lain in bed awake with your mind racing? Or gone to bed later than you should have and ended up with very little sleep? If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.

A new report, commissioned by Horlicks and set to be released at the end of October, is expected to reveal that millions of Brits are suffering from ‘semisomnia’, a new term coined in the report to describe daytime tiredness or low-grade exhaustion, thought to be caused by our inability to wind down before bedtime.

While the subject of sleep is often written about, past studies have tended to focus on the minority of people who suffer from chronic sleep problems like insomnia or sleep apnoea. Sleep research has traditionally failed to provide advice for the average person, but this report seeks to redress the balance.

Dr Neil Stanley, the report’s author and former chairman of the British Sleep Society, has reviewed more than 30 years of bedtime behaviour and will be joining us online to reveal his concerns on the impact that the nation’s poor sleep habits are having on our health and wellbeing. He’ll also be sharing key hints and tips on how to wind down more effectively at the end of the day and unlock the key to a better night’s sleep.

You can put your problems to the experts in our exclusive webchat Chat date: Tuesday 30th October 2007 Chat time: 14.00 (GMT). Your concerns will be answered by Dr Neil Stanley, who will be live online at Speak with Dr Neil Stanley about your concerns o

For more information on healthy sleep visit http://www.horlicks.co.uk

If you can’t wait until the chat – here are some pointers to get you started:

Resolve – what is on your mind and how can you put it aside until tomorrow?

Relax – what helps you stop, sit down and take time out from your day?

Release – what helps your mind switch off from your day-to-day pressures and allows you to drift and think about nothing in particular?

Stress increases breast cancer risk

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Stockholm: Stress at work can increase the risk of women developing breast cancer by upto a third, a new study of Swedish women suggests.

It is thought the increased risk is a result of poor lifestyle choices which lead to obesity, increased alcohol consumption, leading to a weakened immune system.

The study published in the journal of Epidemology found that women in demanding jobs are 30 per cent more likely to develop the disease than those who feel on top of their work.

The results of the study, which involved 36,000 women, appear to contradict previous research which has not found a link between stress and breast cancer.

Thousands of women die each year from the disease and although survival rates are improving, the number contracting it is on the increase.

The study looked at information on 36,000 Swedish women aged 30 to 50 who were in work when the study started in 1990. The study followed the women until 2004, by which time 767 of them had been diagnosed-with breast cancer. The risk of breast cancer increased by around 30 per cent for women with stressful jobs after other factors, such as alcohol consumption, number of children, weight, and age, were taken into account.

The Swedish researchers found no link between stress and cancer among women in part-time work.

The reason why stress might increase the risk is unclear, although studies show it may raise levels of the hormone oestrogen which can heighten the risk of cancer. Another theory is that stress changes women’s behaviour, making them adopt unhealthy habits such as smoking and not exercising.

Recent research has found that long working hours and stress from work can bring on the menopause early and, in pregnant women, increase the risk of a miscarriage.

However, a Danish study of 7,000 women over 18 years found those with high levels of stress were less likely to develop breast cancer than women with low stress levels. Leading-cancer scientists yesterday said more research is needed before stress can join other well-known risk factors.

Asthma – discuss your concerns with leading expert

London: Do you or does someone you love suffer from asthma? Can stress or even a fit of laughter send you desperately hunting for your inhaler? Do you have to stop your child from even entering a house where there is a dog or a cat because just breathing in the animal hairs can trigger an attack? You are not alone. Nearly a quarter of children and a significant 6% of adults are affected by asthma.

Join Dr Martin Bell in an online web chat on Wednesday 11th July Chat time: GMT 12:30pm to 13:30pm

Suffers symptoms can vary from being very severe to fairly mild. Asthma can range from being life threatening or limiting a sufferer’ s ability to lead a normal life to just being a nuisance. Some victims cannot go outside if there is a high pollen count and others cannot do strenuous sports. But how do doctors diagnose asthma and what can sufferer do cut down its effect on their lives?

Treatment has improved dramatically in the last few years but the range of different medicines available can be bewildering. Each sufferer’s asthma is different and how can victims or the parents of children with asthma know which treatment is best for them or their little ones?

Dr Martin Bell will be clearing up the confusion surrounding this very common condition and giving advice on how sufferers can lead a completely normal life. He will be happy to answer any questions you might have about asthma and its treatment.

Dr Martin Bell joins us live online atwww.webchats.tv/webchat.php?ID=409″ on Wednesday 11th July at 12:30pm GMT to answer all your asthma questions.

Martin Bell qualified at the Royal London Hospital in 1982 and has been in General Practice in North Essex for 18 years, after doing a number of hospital-based jobs including gaining extra qualifications in obstetrics, gynaecology and anaesthetics. He is a full time partner in a busy practice which has about 12,000 patients and has an interest in communicating medicine in an understandable, but hopefully not patronising, way to non medical people; be they patients or a wider public.

For more information visit < a href="http://www.axaappphealthcare.co.uk">www.axappphealthcare.co.uk

Stress free sleep with advice on buying the right bed from the experts at the Sleep Council

Despite the fact that we spend around eight hours a day in bed, most of us are surprisingly complacent about our place of rest.

In fact a poor bed can lead to worse things than a lumpy night. Tiredness, back problems, bad moods and a strained relationship with your partner are just some of the consequences, so it really is important for our health and wellbeing that every now and then we give our beds an MOT of sorts.

The Sleep Council has re-launched its web site at www.sleepcouncil.com with a fresh, easier to navigate new look and some fresh new features – including a brand new interactive bed selector, which aims to point you in the right direction for buying the right new bed.

But even armed with these tips, buyers should beware the seven deadly sins of bed buying, says The Sleep Council!

1. Not doing any homework before buying a bed. There’s as many different beds as there are sandwich fillings so work out what kind of bed you want first (divan or bedstead; springs or foam; adjustable or static; with or without storage etc

2. Buying a bed without first testing it out – you wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive – and you spend as much if not more time in your bed!

3. Spending as little as you can get away with instead of as much as you can afford. You get what you pay for (think of it like this: over seven years a ÂŁ700 bed costs less than 4p a night. What can you buy these days for 4p!)

4. Buying a standard 4’6″ (135cm) double bed instead of a roomy five footer that ensures less partner-disrupted sleep.

5. Forgetting a BEDroom is exactly that. A place to rest, relax and sleep and not a room packed with sleep distracting gadgets and TVs.

6. Not taking care of your bed – it’s hardly high maintenance so follow the manufacturer’s care instructions to make the most of it.

7. Ignoring the seven year itch – even the best of beds will not retain the same levels of comfort as the years go by – it deteriorates gradually and you and your support and comfort needs change, too. So don’t ignore the warning signs (dips, roll-together and neck or back ache etc) – invest in a new bed before your sleep quality starts to suffer.

Make sure you have the perfect place to relax for comfort for your body and mind. Then you can tackle the day in the best health available to you!

Join Jessica Alexander from the Sleep Council and Pauline Rawlings at SleepCouncilwebchat to choose the right bed for you

Reflexology (UK) – Liz Walters MAR

Liz Walters MAR
18a Fillebrook Avenue, Enfield, Middlesex EN1 3BB
Mobile: 07970 134174
Qualified and Fully Insured Practitioner of Reflexology; ABC Diploma Level 3 in Reflexology; Member of the Association of Reflexologists (AoR); Central London (Central London School of Reflexology, Covent Garden, London WC1)
Travels to:
 Middlesex (including Enfield, Winchmore Hill)
 Haringay (Muswell Hill, Crouch End, Harringay)
 Hertfordshire (within the M25)
Prices:Start from ÂŁ35.00

Treatment Sessions: The initial session lasts for approximately 1 hour 15 minutes; Follow up sessions last for approximately 1 hour. Includes Relaxational Reflexology

Relaxational Reflexology is ideal for relieving Stress and Fatigue and lifting Depression. It provides a chance to pamper yourself and indulge in some ‘YOUÂ’ time and to relax both the Mind and the Body. Also great for Pre Wedding nerves – Pamper Parties – Hen DoÂ’s!
Clinical Reflexology

Clinical Reflexology is used for more specific physical ailments and problems such as:-

 Headaches & Migraine
 Hormonal & Menstrual Problems
 Infertility
 Sleep Disorders
 Digestive Disorders
 Circulatory Imbalances
 Stress & Depression
 Asthma
 High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

Stress professor reveals top 10 tips

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London: Endless shopping queues, cold weather and the nightmare prospect of having the in-laws round for lunch are just some of the reasons why the UK is dreading Christmas 2006!

New research released today by The Wrigley Company reveals that nearly a quarter (23%) of Brits are stressed out and not looking forward to the Christmas break. *

With just ten days until the last shopping weekend before Christmas – the most stressful period of all according to 26% of study respondents – Wrigley has teamed up with top ‘stress professorÂ’ Cary Cooper to help tackle BritainÂ’s Yuletide stress problem. Professor Cooper has developed a formula – based on the results of the survey of 2,400 people – comprising the UKÂ’s key Christmas stress elements that will allow Brits to calculate their personal Christmas stress factor. The professor has come up with some top tips on how to reduce those stress levels as well!

Exhaustion from the Christmas build up, leaving for work and coming home in the dark, getting in the supplies at home, those family members you just don’t want to see, and the return to work all add up to –

Exhaustion Period + 2 (Preparation for Xmas + Weather) + (Family Time + Return to Work) / 2 = Christmas stress!

In fact, the study shows that two million Brits will choose to flee the country on holiday and escape the Christmas crush altogether! Of those who stay behind, nearly half of us (48%) will get stressed out by the experience of Christmas shopping and buying festive foods; 14% will even spend time worrying about the workload left on their desks whilst others will agonise over who gets a Christmas card – with 12% even wanting cards scrapped altogether! It seems that the UK population this Christmas is more likely to resemble Scrooge than Tiny TimÂ…

People are planning to try and take action this year to battle the Christmas stress factor with 16% intending to nurture healthy habits like taking exercise or chewing gum to help manage stress. A further 28% aim to avoid the high streets altogether by shopping online; and 27% will be hiding from people that they find most stressful to try lower their stress levels.

Alarmingly, 44% of those surveyed admit they have no idea how to manage their stress levels and it would appear that putting your feet up and watching the telly (a favourite stress buster) wonÂ’t help at Christmas time, with endless reruns of the Snowman and Mary Poppins leaving nearly half of the population (47%) ready to tear their hair out!

“Christmas should be a happy time of year, but the pressures of modern life mean it’s becoming a period of stress for some instead. Simple things like planning ahead, shopping online, reserving quiet time or actually looking at the positive aspects of spending time with family are all ways you can manage stress and get the most out of the festive season,” says Professor Cary Cooper.

“Managing life’s little stresses doesn’t have to be complex; scientific studies have shown that chewing sugar free gum can help you relieve the symptoms of stress. So this Christmas, whether you’re shopping for presents or preparing for the family to arrive, a piece of gum could help you stay calm,” says Alexandra MacHutchon, from Wrigley

*KRC Research, November 2006, sample of 2414 adults in the UK

Professor Cary CooperÂ’s top tips for managing Christmas stress

1) Do not leave everything to the last minute! Make sure you do start planning in the weeks leading up to Christmas – presents, provisions and what to do at New Year

2) Remember to have some fun along the way; do things you enjoy doing and include members of your family too

3) Make sure you donÂ’t skip meals out of business, maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly

4) Approach Christmas with a positive outlook – don’t let yourself think it will be a nightmare, focus on the best things about the festive period instead. That positivity will communicate itself to others around you

5) Take some ‘me’ time – take a bit of time just to relax, unwind and indulge yourself for a few minutes during the day

About the Wrigley Company

The Wrigley Company is the worldÂ’s leading manufacturer of chewing and bubblegum and a major player in the confectionery industry worldwide.

Some of Wrigley’s most famous brands include Wrigley’s Extra®, Airwaves®, Orbit®, Juicy Fruit®, Wrigley’s Spearmint®, Doublemint® and Hubba Bubba®. Wrigley is committed to diversifying close to home and recently launched its first non-gum products for over one hundred years – Extra™ Thin Ice™ and Extra™ Mints.

About Professor Cary Cooper

Cary L. Cooper is Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University and the author of numerous scholarly articles and books on stress (e.g. Creating a Balance: Managing Stress, London: The British Library Press). He is also President of the International Stress Management Association and BACP.

Xmas stress piles on the pounds

London: Christmas stress piles on the pounds, according to a new survey from Weight Watchers Online.

The survey reveals that:

· 57% name Christmas as the most sociable time of the year

· 82% name time off work as the most enjoyable part of the lead up to Christmas

· Over a third of people stress out thinking whether people will be happy with their Christmas present

· Over 1/3 of people find not tucking into all the left over food the hardest thing about the aftermath of Christmas

The stress of the festive period manifests itself in 12 Personas of Christmas the study concludes.

Shopping is undoubtedly one of the countryÂ’s favourite activities, this is voted the most stressful part of the festive season with 61% of participants claiming it is their number one headache.

82% of participants asked, said that they found Christmas, as a whole, the most stressful time of year.

With all the different ‘stresses’ that surround the festive holidays, Weight Watchers Online has discovered the “12 Personas of Christmas”.

Stressed Susan – Suffers from Christmas shopping overload

Top Tip: make lists for all the shopping, who you need to buy for and buy a few extra backup presents just in case. Make use of the shopsÂ’ websites and catalogues for ideas.

Picky Pam – Loves to snack when near food at Christmas

Top Tip: replace those nibbles with healthier options. Place bowls of pretzels, rice crackers or Weight Watchers Rice Sticks around the house.

Frivolous Fred – Overspending on presents can cause stress and worry in the aftermath of Christmas

Top Tip: set yourself a budget to avoid overspending. Sit down and work out exactly how much you want to spend and how much you can afford. DonÂ’t forget to shop around for those presents; take advantage of gift offers that are in many shops.

Worrying Wendy – A Worrying Wendy stresses about people being disappointed with their presents

Top Tip: Ask around for advice on what people might want, but stop giving yourself a hard time, itÂ’s the thought that counts. How about making a personal gift with photos or homemade cookies? Try to remember this time of year is not just about presents.

Negative Nelly– Stresses about losing weight to look good in time for Christmas Day.

Top Tip: DonÂ’t panic, weÂ’re only human. If you have over indulged or are concerned about weight loss then seek tips and strategies from Weight Watchers Online, and you will soon be back on track.

Fashion Fretter Fran – Ruins the run up by worrying what wear to the Christmas party

Top Tip: Remember you donÂ’t have to go over the top. Wear something youÂ’re comfortable and confident in and dress it up with wonderful accessories; perhaps some sparkly earrings or a glitzy handbag

Turkey Tim – Stresses about cooking the Christmas dinner

Top Tip: Make a timetable and try and get as much done the night before. Delegate even if itÂ’s just laying the table – youÂ’ll be surprised how these little jobs can ease the stress from the cooking

Conscientious Carol – Spending times with the in-laws and relatives for many is a huge worry

Top Tip: Remember itÂ’s only for one day, why not take yourself out for a walk for 10 minutes to try to relax, Try and plan in advance activities that will keep everyone entertained, such as the classic charades!

Money worry Mary– Paying off the debts can worry many of us before, during and after Christmas

Top Tip: Christmas is not just about presents, you can be generous without being extravagant. Shop around for the best deals and donÂ’t forget to set out a payment plan by giving yourself a budget to stick to for the 6 weeks after Christmas. You can always give time as a present, offer to do the gardening, or a voucher for a home-cooked meal.

Torn Tracy – A Torn Tracy worries about where to spend Christmas day; friends, family, partner?!

Top Tip: You donÂ’t have to upset anyone, divide up Christmas between the houses. Spend Boxing Day with one, Christmas Eve with another and have everyone to yours for drinks on the Bank Holiday

11. Hurrying Holly – Always in a Hurry but never on time. Nothing seems to be done, everything is started, but left to the last minute.

Top Tip: Sit down, relax, and take a breath! Pick up a piece of paper and pen. Write a list of what you want to achieve and give yourself a time frame, do not be ambitious but be realistic.

And the persona we all strive for

12. Jolly Josephine – Whom everyone wants to be! Taking Christmas in your stride, looking forward to the big day and everything is under control and makes up the perfect timetable!

Top Tip: Share your knowledge and calmness with those around you!

Gina Schauffer, senior editor of WeightWatchers.co.uk says: “Christmas is undoubtedly a stressful time of the year, but itÂ’s important to bear in mind that itÂ’s only one day. WeightWatchers.co.uk offers a stress-free online weight loss service, available 24/7, with recipe ideas, fitness tips and interactive message boards where one can share Christmas tips and experiences with like-minded people. However, Christmas comes but once a year and everyone deserves to enjoy a treat every now and again.”

Other interesting statistics;

· 57% name Christmas as the most sociable time of the year

· 82% name time off work as the most enjoyable part of the lead up to Christmas

· Over a third of people stress out thinking whether people will be happy with their Christmas present

· Over 1/3 of people find not tucking into all the left over food the hardest thing about the aftermath of Christmas

Traditional Chinese acupuncture relieves stress

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London: Stress may be experienced as a result of exposure to a wide range of demands and if left unchecked it can have an enormous impact on your health.

According to the UK Government’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE), a total of 12.8 million working days were lost to stress, depression and anxiety in 2005. Work-related stress accounts for over a third of all new incidences of ill health.

Stress can be caused by any number of things, including family, relationships and financial concerns. This is sometimes exacerbated at this festive time of year, when the focus on parties and presents can bring problems sharply in to focus. Links between stress and poor health include high blood pressure, allergies, migraines and depression. In extreme cases it can cause psychological problems such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Cumulative Stress Disorder.

How can acupuncture help?

Traditional Chinese philosophy states that our health is dependent on the body’s motivating energy, known as qi, moving in a smooth and balanced way through a series of channels beneath the skin. Stress, anger, or any intense emotion acts like a traffic jam, blocking the free flow of energy in the body. Many people who are very stressed experience upper back, shoulder and neck pain. This is because stress causes the ‘snarling upÂ’ of the energy passing through channels in these areas causing pain, tension and stiffness – often resulting in headaches as well.

Through acupuncture, these energy blockages can be addressed. Acupuncture can help energy flow smoothly, and alleviate not only the symptoms of stress and anxiety, but the stress and anxiety itself. In addition, acupuncture improves circulation of blood throughout the body. The calming nature of acupuncture also helps decrease heart rate, lowers blood pressure and relaxes the muscles.

Acupuncture can help by:
• reducing risk of further health implications
• reducing the number of sick days taken
• offering an effective preventative treatment for stress
• making stress easier to handle

Research
• Research by JC Butler et al (2005) was conducted on 55 patients suffering from stress-related emotional disorders. All patients were treated with acupuncture for the condition and the total effective rate for the reduction of symptoms in all 55 patients was 95.4%

• In Scotland research was conducted among hospice staff who were measured for stress using a psychological profile and then tested again following four acupuncture treatments. A 44% reduction in stress was recorded (2002).

For more information and therapists go to www.acupuncture.org.uk

About the BAcC:

The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) has a membership of over 2,500 professionally qualified acupuncturists. It is the UK’s largest professional body for the practice of acupuncture.

BAcC members practise a traditional, holistic style of acupuncture diagnosis and treatment based on a system developed and refined over 2,000 years. To achieve BAcC membership, practitioners must first undertake extensive training in traditional acupuncture (minimum three years full-time or part-time equivalent), which includes physiology, anatomy and other biomedical sciences appropriate to the practice of acupuncture.

Hectic lifestyle is main cause of stress

London: Our hectic lives are making us ill, a new survey has discovered.

Those questioned were anxious about – not getting enough exercise (48%), not getting enough sleep (42%), general fatigue (34%), not being able to find a National Health Service dentist (29%), daily stress (27%), cleanliness of public hospitals (25%), depression (23%), food additives (20), hospital waiting lists (17%) and passive smoking (5%).

The poll indicates many of us are far more worried about not getting enough sleep and the stresses of everyday living than smoking, drinking or poor diets.

Public health experts believe the findings reflect the increasing pressure of surviving in a 24-hour society.

They have warned that the strain of modern life – in which employees work longer hours and spend less time with family and friends – could be costing the health of millions. There is no santuary at home where there are still mobile phones and the Internet.

The research carried out by healthcare insurance provider Legal & General questioned 5,000 men and women about their biggest health worries over the past three months.

Nearly half said lack of exercise was their number one health concern. Lack of sleep followed at 42 per cent while 34 per cent said general fatigue was a major worry.

More than a quarter blamed stress as a cause of anxiety while almost the same number said they worried about feeling depressed. Passive smoking, however, was mentioned by 15 per cent of those surveyed and drinking by just 12 per cent.

Only 14 per cent said they worried about not following a healthy diet and a fifth about food additives such as salt, colouring and preservatives.

Divorce increases heart attack risk in women

Houston: Women who divorce are 50 per cent more likely to develop heart disease in later life than those who remain married, according to a new report from the University of Texas.

And its not good for those who remarry as they are still likely to suffer from illness.

In the same study men, which looked at 1,000 men and women over a two-year period, were found to be unaffected physically by divorce.

The researchers concluded that the emotional stress triggered a chain reaction of symptoms, including physical and mental problems which raised the risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers believe the emotional stress of a marriage break-up, along with the

The results demonstrated that women with a marital loss have a higher risk of disease in late-midlife compared to continuously married women, whereas marital loss is not associated with men’s risk.

Women tend to value themselves more in terms of family relationships, whereas men value themselves primarily in terms of their occupation.’

The findings, published in the Journal of Marriage and the Family, showed that 11.6 per cent of divorced women and 10.7 per cent of remarried women had heart disease, compared to 8.7 per cent of those who were continuously married.

At the age of 51, 10.9 per cent of divorcees and 9.8 per cent of remarried women had heart disease, compared to 7.3 per cent of women who remained with their partner.

By the age of 60, 33 per cent of divorced women and 31 per cent of remarried women had cardiovascular problems, compared to just 22 per cent of those who were married and had not suffered a break-up.

Divorce rates have quadrupled since 1970 with around one in four marriages now breaking down.

About half of marriages of twentysomethings end in divorce with the highest rate being among 25 to 39-year-olds, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Breastfed babies cope better with stress

London : Breastfed babies cope better with stress in later life than bottle fed babies, suggests new Swedish research to be published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood

The findings are based on almost 9000 children, who were part of the 1970 British Cohort Study, which regularly monitors a sample of the British population from birth onwards.

Relevant information was obtained at the childrenÂ’s birth, and at the ages of 5 and 10 years, from midwives and health visitors, parents, and teachers. This included how much the child weighed at birth and whether s/he was breastfed.

It also included factors that might influence or be linked with a childÂ’s reactions to stress and coping mechanisms, including maternal depression, parental education levels, their social class, and smoking habits.

When the children were 10 years old, their teachers were also asked to rate the anxiety of their pupils on a scale of zero to 50, while parents were interviewed about major family disruption, including divorce or separation, which had occurred when their child was between 5 and 10 years of age.

Unsurprisingly, when all the data were analysed, the findings pointed to a greater likelihood of high anxiety among children whose parents had divorced or separated.

But children who had been breastfed were significantly less anxious than their peers who had not been breastfed.

Breastfed children were almost twice as likely to be highly anxious, while children who had been bottle fed were over 9 times as likely to be highly anxious about parental divorce/separation.

The findings held true, irrespective of other factors likely to influence the results.

The authors emphasise that their research does not prove that breastfeeding itself makes children cope better with life stress; rather, it may be a marker of some other maternal or parental factors, they say.

But they cite animal research, which suggests that the quality of physical contact between mother and baby during the first few days of life may influence the development of the offspringÂ’s neural and hormonal pathways that are involved in the stress response. Babies with more of the type of contact experienced during breast feeding coped better with stress when older.

Breastfeeding may also affect the quality of the bonding between mother and child, and the way in which the two relate to each other. And this may have a lasting impact on the childÂ’s anxiety levels in response to stressful life events, the authors suggest.

Diet is not effective in stress control

London: New research shows that some dietary interventions may not prove effective in helping tackle stress and poor health.

Research published online in the Journal of Proteome Research, shows how improving the diet of rats placed in stressful environments did not normalise their metabolic profile, an indicator of their health.

The team from Imperial College London and the Nestle Research Centre divided 36 rats into groups of six. Groups A to D were fed a standard diet, while groups E and F were fed a diet enriched with long chain polyunsaturated acids (LC-PUFA) which are normally found in milk and dairy products.

The rats were subjected to different types of stress, one where they were separated from their mothers periodically during the first few weeks of life and a second stress at a later stage where they were placed on a platform suspended above water. Following the tests, samples of blood plasma were taken from the rats and analysed using NMR spectroscopy.

Group A was used as a control group and not subjected to any stress, while groups B, C, and D were subjected to either one or both stresses.
Groups E and F were subjected to water avoidance or both maternal separation and water avoidance, as well as being fed the enriched diet.

They found the stress caused by maternal separation led to a decrease in lipoproteins and an increase in amino acids, glucose, lactate, creatine and citrate. The stress caused by the water avoidance resulted in increased levels of O-acetyl glycoproteins.

Giving the rats the LC-PUFA enriched diet did help to improve their metabolic profiles, an indicator of health, although the diet failed to totally normalise them.

Dr Elaine Holmes, from Imperial College London, who led the research
said: “Although the study shows this particular dietary intervention did not work to significantly improve health, the importance of a good diet in remaining healthy should not be underestimated.”

“However this work could have important implications for the development of other dietary interventions. The research shows it is possible to accurately measure and quantify how changing diet impacts health. This could ultimately lead to the development of more targeted and more effective products.”

High flyers turn to alcohol to cope with City stress

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London: Automated call centres, mobile phones and computers crashing top the stress scale of modern life, say a new report from health charity DPP: Developing Patient Partnerships (DPP).

In response, over a third of men (34%) turn to alcohol and a quarter (25%) of the population resort to cigarettes to help them feel less stressed, says the report. It also highlights the confusion around what stress actually is. Many people (68%) think stress is simply having a ‘bad day’ and 57% see it as having too much to do. Many (64%) wrongly believe that stress itself is an illness.

The report, part of the DPPÂ’s Dealing with Stress campaign, provides a stark insight into how stressed we all feel, how stress is misunderstood by the UK population and our failure to adopt effective coping mechanisms.

DPP Spokesperson Dr Rosemary Anderson says: “Considering that most people (79%) believe they have been stressed in the last year, it is worrying that they are seeking solace in alcohol and cigarettes when there are many positive things that people can do to help themselves cope plus feel better in the long term.

Its findings are confirmed by City health professionals who say there are growing number of highflyers, whose inability to cope, particularly with competitive stress in the workplace, is causing them to seek professional help for problem drinking.

Don Serratt, a former merchant banker in the City, founded Life Works, a mental health and addiction treatment group after his own decent into alcoholism. He has not had a drink for 20 years and now helps others do the same.

He says: “A work hard / play hard culture has always been associated with the City. Commerce is aggressive and individuals working in the field have to “let off steam”. Whilst a casual drink doesn’t pose a problem, the issues of binge drinking and turning to alcohol as the main stress release mechanism are prevalent. When this spirals out of control, addiction can result – causing financial problems, health issues and damaging relationships.

“There’s also the associated issue of professional derailment – the under-performance of senior professionals in industry as a result of mental health issues. The important thing in both circumstances is to identify a potential problem early and intervene. Clinical experience shows that the sooner appropriate treatment is put in place, the faster and more effectively an individual recovers. Friends, colleagues and families shouldn’t wait for a person they are worried about to hit rock bottom. If they have a gut feeling that something isn’t quite right, the slightest suspicion, then get it checked out.”

Georgia Foster(pictured), a clinical hypnotherapist and stress management consultant treats City patients at the Wren Clinic explores the alcohol abuse in her new book, The Drinkless Mind. In it she highlights the role of the conscious and sub-conscious mind. The rationale in the book encourages people to reprogramme the negativity of their unconscious mind. People who drink to excess are usually trying to silence their inner critic because they are unable to turn off this negative voice. She labels this the “Radio Crazy” phenomenon because you are unable to turn it off.

“I believe that the inner critic underpins all anxieties, fears and low self worth. The inner critic is suppressed in most people after a few drinks, and that is why we drink, it could however manifest itself in, aggression, and procrastination. Stress comes in many different shapes and forms. Anxiety and panic attacks are extremely common amongst highflyers. This type of client will believe that they not coping with their lives as well as they should and their demonic inner critic will blame them. Symptoms include sweating profusely in meetings, clammy hands, fear of flying and lifts, which is most of the time claustrophobia or being trapped in their lives. I see a lot of people who have professional/social anxieties about speaking in meetings, taking clients out for lunch and speaking in public.

“A common issue is insomnia which indicates that the individual is worried about the past or the future, and tries to rectify the past (which we can’t) or predict the future (which can be a negative image) by staying awake to resolve the thoughts. Originally there may have been a ‘real’ issue that was stopping them from sleeping but it then becomes a habit. Alcohol can often help people to relax enough to sleep, it does however play havoc with the natural sleep pattern. When people try and cut back on the booze they panic that they can’t relax enough to go to sleep and the pattern of emotional drinking kicks in.

“I also treat many clients who earn ridiculous amounts of money and don’t’ believe they deserve it and live a terrible panic stricken life that they are faking their success, which they are not. They are truly doing the job well but always stressed that someone else will take their job away from them. I respect that this maybe true in certain situations but once again can also be a self fulfilling prophecy. Self-help with some of these issues is very difficult for most people, and often, despite a desire to change certain behaviours, many people don’t really want to do the work to change, enough. Until that is, they literally have had enough.

“One of the reasons for all this is that we are educated in this society to avoid exposing vulnerabilities to the outside world, which means all stress and emotional issues become buried within. Ultimately this has long term health effects but along the way we are given many signs such as the above symptoms. If we donÂ’t feel safe simply because we have been taught to ‘keep quietÂ’ about our problems we feel lost and alone and resort to gratification of the primitive world, such as consumption of food, alcohol, excessive sex and sleep – which is a sign of depression.”

Case study

Jenny (not her real name or job), is a senior IT consultant at a large investment bank and is her mid-thirities. She is an extremely funny person and her role as the social/funny person of the office and also meant being a big drinker. One evening after work she got so drunk – which was not uncommon – that the fell down the escalators at Bank tube station, breaking her nose, smashing her glasses and almost loosing an eye. She did not realise this damage until she woke up the next day with very little memory but in some serious pain. She was in shock for days.

Contacts:
Georgia Foster, All Hallows House, Idol Lane, EC3. For copies of The Drinkless Mind and CD cost ÂŁ17.99 call 0845 660 4396. www.georgiafoster.com
Lifeworks, London, W1 and Woking Surrey. Free phone number 0800 081 0700 and www.lifeworkscommunity.com
DPP: Developing Patient Partnerships Campaign. www.dpp.org.uk

Stress increases risk of heart disease

London: High levels of stress can provoke an increase in bad blood cholesterol, researchers at University College London have discovered.

High levels of LDL cholesterol is the type implicated in a number ofillnesses including cancer, depression and heart disease. In the study by University College London, 199 healthy middle-aged men and women were set a computer task using words, colours and shapes designed to put them under pressure.

In later tests there was a large rise in their cholesterol levels, including LDL type which can lead to heart disease by damaging blood vessels and limiting circulation.

The research, reported in the journal Health Psychology, those whose levels had risen most after the task had higher levels overall even three years later. Some were three times more likely to have harmful cholesterol.

Stress and anxiety are one of the biggest causes of long-term sickness in developed countries and cost substantial amounts in lost production and health care.

Dr Andrew Steptoe, the lead researcher, said it is was not fully understood why stress raises cholesterol. It could be that it upsets how the body breaks down fats.
He said the responses to stress could be used to warn doctors about who may be at risk of heart disease.

Stress may help fight breast cancer: new research in Denmark

Copenhagen: High levels of daily stress appear to result in a lower risk of developing breast cancer for the first time, says a study in this week’s British Medical Journal.

But high stress may put women at risk of other serious illnesses warn the researchers, a team from Denmark.

The findings follow an eighteen year study of over 6,500 women in Copenhagen. At the start of the study researchers asked the women what levels of stress they experienced routinely in their lives, and classified the results into low, medium and high levels. Stress was defined as tension, nervousness, impatience, anxiety, or sleeplessness. (Stress levels were not measured throughout the study.)

In calculating the effects of stress, researchers also adjusted the results for other factors, such as whether they had children or whether they were menopausal, which would have an influence on developing breast cancer. They did not account for risk factors such as family history of the disease however.

Of the 251 women diagnosed with first-time breast cancer over the study period, researchers found that women reporting high levels of stress were 40% less likely to develop breast cancer than women reporting low levels of stress.

The study further found that, for every increased level of stress on a six-level scale, women were 8% less likely to develop breast cancer.

One explanation for the findings may be that sustained levels of high stress may affect oestrogen levels – which, over time, may have an influence on developing breast cancer. But this theory has not been tested, and research in this area so far has mainly been restricted to animals, caution the authors.

Despite the findings, the authors warn that stress-induced changes in hormonal balances are not a healthy response, and continued stress may play a damaging part in other illnesses – particularly heart disease.

Stress

Stressful situations release the hormone dehydroepiandrosterone-S (DHEA-S) in the body which helps us look and feel younger, as well as boosting sex drive and improving memory. Those who produce more of the hormone are better able to deal with stress.

DHEA-S is produced by the adrenal glands in response to stressful situations. It assists brain and body function, boosts memory and mood and keeps skin supple, weight down as well as boosting libido. Like other hormones production decreases as we age.

Ultimately it is the way that we deal with stress that has the potential to allows stress to become a negative or positive force in our lives.

For example, when we find ourselves in a threatening situation, our heart beats faster and our muscles tense. This is known as the fight or flight response and our ancestors depended on this reaction for their survival – to escape enemies and predators. We still use it today but in lesser situations and the body returns to normal.

It is constant stress when the body does not return to normal that can result exhaustion and illness. In life crises such as bereavement, marriage breakdown or depression, doctors have found that the immune system becomes impaired and the
body manufactures large quantities of stress chemicals particularly corisol. At the same the activity of “natural killer” (NK) cells, which circulate in the blood ready to attack foreign bodies and mutant cells are supressed.

These are some of the symptoms of long-term stress:

* Fast and shallow breathing
* A racing heart which can led to chest pains, tingling, palpitations and asthma
* A dry mouth
* Muscle tension and pain.
* High blood pressure
* Nausea, indigestion, heartburn and ulcers.
* Sweating
* Sudden feelings of fear and panic
* Feelingtense, nervous or wound-up
* Difficulty getting to sleep, staying asleep, or waking
early
* Constant feelings tha something awful might happen
* Feeling irritable, edgy and bad-tempered
* Irregular eating patterns and often eat too much or too little
* Smoking or drinking too much, or take tranquillisers or other drugs
* Suffering from upset stomachs, diarrhoea or constipation
* Difficulty with concentration, memory or making decisions
* Constantly feeling exhausted
* Worrying that you will lose control, crack up or become ill
* Feeling apathetic – like nothing matters
* Feeling short of breath even when resting
* A feeling of tightness in the neck, chest or head
* Avoiding worrying situations
* Unable to turn off certain worrying thoughts
* A loss of interest in sex
* A sensation of palpitations or butterflies in the stomach or chest
* A lack of self-confidence
* Constant worrying that you will not be able to cope
* Frequent headaches
* Feeling thatlife is not worth living
* Feeling pessimistic about the future
* Feelingunder strain.
* Feeling obsessive about certain issues
* Constant aches and pains that worry you
* Feeling very emotional and crying easily
* Feeling physically run down
* Feeling dizzy, remote, unreal or faint.
* Can’t be bothered to see friends or take up interests

What can you do about stress?

Although there is no magic cure or pill to cure stress, there are certain lifestyle changesthat will help you better cope with it and diminish its impact on your health and life.

Look after your health by eating foods that help you to be fitter and strengthen your immune system. There are also mood-enhancing foods that trigger the release of the serotonin which has a soothing effect – these include vegetables and
wholegrains. Vegetables contain high levels of the amino-scid L-Tryptophan which is also a serotonin trigger.

Take more exercise. Go for a 15-minute run before work. Don’t eat lunch at your office desk – go and sit in the park and take a walk. Take the dog for a walk before dinner.

Do something to make you laugh.

Develop a positive attitude.

Express your feelings

Learn to delegate

Relax and take time out for yourself

If you do feel stressed breath deeply and slowly, close your eyes and go to a place where you feel good – like a palm-fringed beach, where you can listen to gentle waves lapping back and forth. Practice this several times a day and it will help you relax and refocus.

There are a number of alternative therapies that can help with stress such as massage, acupuncture, aromatherapy, flotation and Bach Flower Remedies. Read about these in more detail in Alternative Therapies