Health is Wealth: Find the Balance

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Health is Wealth: Find the Balance

Post  Regina on Wed Nov 25, 2009 12:19 am

Why We Cry: The Truth About Tearing Up






The lowdown on tears: Why some cry easily, others don't cry, and how to handle all those tears.



It starts with a quivering lip. Or maybe blinking faster and faster to keep the wetness from escaping.

Before you know it, you're getting teary -- again.

You may be one of those people who cry at the drop of a hat -- not to mention weddings, birthday parties, your kids' school plays, and the humane society public service announcements showing those adorable dogs in need of new homes.

Or you may be the type who can't remember when you last cried.

Either way, crying often catches the often-teary eyed or the usually stoic off guard -- striking at a time or place where you don't want to weep -- and others don't want to watch you weep.

Just ask New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, normally stoic, who got teary as he announced the retirement of his star linebacker Tedy Bruschi. Or Hilary Clinton, whose tears one night on the 2008 presidential campaign trail were splashed across TV screens.

Football coaches and politicians crying in public may reflect a society that's evolving to become a bit more comfortable with emotion. But crying in front of people can still be awkward for the person crying and people around them.

What's behind our crying? Why do some people cry so much more or less readily than others? And what's the best way to handle all those tears? Is there a way not to cry when it's totally inappropriate, such as in response to your boss declining that request for a raise? Researchers and therapists who study crying share what they've learned -- and what still puzzles them.





Why Do You Cry?
The ''why'' of crying may seem obvious and straightforward: You're happy or sad. But that's too simplistic.

''Crying is a natural emotional response to certain feelings, usually sadness and hurt. But then people [also] cry under other circumstances and occasions," says Stephen Sideroff, PhD, a staff psychologist at Santa Monica--University of California Los Angeles & Orthopaedic Hospital and clinical director of the Moonview Treatment Center in Santa Monica, Calif.

For instance, he says, ''people cry in response to something of beauty. There, I use the word 'melting.' They are letting go of their guard, their defenses, tapping into a place deep inside themselves."

Crying does serve an emotional purpose, says Sideroff, also an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. "It's a release. There is a buildup of energy with feelings."

It can also be a survival mechanism, notes Jodi DeLuca, PhD, a neuropsychologist at Tampa General Hospital in Florida. ''When you cry," she says, "it's a signal you need to address something." Among other things, it may mean you are frustrated, overwhelmed or even just trying to get someone's attention, which DeLuca and other researchers call a ''secondary gain'' cry.

On top of that, crying may have a biochemical purpose. It's believed to release stress hormones or toxins from the body, says Lauren Bylsma, a PhD student at the University of South Florida in Tampa, who has focused on crying in her research.

Lastly, crying has a purely social function, Bylsma says. It often wins support from those who watch you cry. Sometimes, crying may be manipulative -- a way to get what you want, whether you're asking a friend to go shopping with you, your spouse to agree to a luxurious vacation, or your child to get their math homework done.






Crying Out Loud: Who's Most Likely?
Women tend to cry more than men do, most experts concur. "Women have more permission to cry. To some degree it's changing," Sideroff says. But not entirely. "It's still viewed by many, particularly men, as a sign of weakness," Sideroff says.

When it comes to crying habits, the population as a whole is on a spectrum, experts say, with some crying easily and others rarely. Experts aren't exactly sure why, though temperament probably plays a role. "Some people are just more prone to crying," Sideroff says. "Others ignore or are not as fazed by certain things [that provoke tears in criers]."

People with a history of trauma have been found to cry more, Sideroff says. That's especially true, he says, if they dwell on that past. "If you keep referring back to the past of trauma or emotional pain, it will generate more feelings of hurt.''

Women who report anxiety, as well as those who are extroverted and empathetic, are more likely to say they feel comfortable crying, according to Bylsma. Those were the results of a study Bylsma and others published in Personality and Individual Differences in 2008.





Benefits of a Good Cry?
People often refer to a cry as a good cry and say they feel better afterward.

But is that always true?

Usually, but not always, says Bylsma. In a study of nearly 200 Dutch women, Bylsma found that most did say they felt better after crying. But not everyone. "We found that individuals who scored higher on [measures of] depression or anxiety were likely to feel worse after crying."

Exactly why isn't known, she tells WebMD. It could be that those who are depressed or anxious simply don't derive the same benefits from crying as others do.





Coping With Crying
If you're not a world-class crier but are often around those who cry, it can make you feel awkward, useless, or just uncomfortable. That's because when someone cries, it shows their vulnerability, Sideroff says. "I think in general, people are uncomfortable with vulnerability.'' When the crier exhibits vulnerability, Sideroff says, "it's shifting the level of intimacy of the environment.'' Just being in that more intimate environment makes the other person uncomfortable in some cases, he says.

So, how can you -- and how should you -- respond to a crier? Here are four tips:

Be aware that if you do nothing, you can make the crier feel worse, Bylsma says.
Try to do something supportive. What that is depends on the situation and how well you know the person, ''So hugging someone you aren't very close with might not be appropriate, while simply listening in an empathetic way would be suitable," Bylsma says.
Don't assume you know how to comfort them. ''The less intimate the relationship, the more it is appropriate to begin by asking how you can help and be supportive," Sideroff says.
Know that criers who tear up in a very large group generally feel more uncomfortable than those who cry in front of one or two people they're familiar with. But even in a large group, the criers welcome support from those they didn't know well, Bylsma has found.





Trying Not to Cry
Sometimes, it's just not cool to let the tears flow -- you are trying to put up a brave face while accompanying a loved one to a medical treatment, for instance. Or your boss has just told you your hours will be cut in half.

What to do? Bylsma has this advice:

Try to postpone the cry but don't cancel it altogether. Suppression isn't good.
Excuse yourself, find an appropriate place, and cry.
If you can't leave the situation, postpone the cry and stem the tears with a positive distraction. It would depend on the person and the situation, but she suggests watching a funny video. If you're in the middle of a doctor's office, you might grab a magazine and read.





The Downside of Not Crying
Too many tears can make observers uncomfortable, but never crying may not be mentally healthy.

"For various reasons, a lot of people push down their tears; they suppress them," Sideroff says. One of the consequences is we sort of deaden ourselves, to suppress or not even notice we have those feelings inside. The way that looks to the outside world is depression."

Better to acknowledge feelings such as sadness and hurt, he says. "Feelings are not about good or bad, it's just what is."

Those who suppress emotions and cannot cry may be jeopardizing their physical health, DeLuca agrees. She cites a saying attributed to British psychiatrist Henry Maudsley, among others: "The sorrow which has no vent in tears may make other organs weep."





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Regina

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Re: Health is Wealth: Find the Balance

Post  Regina on Wed Nov 25, 2009 12:30 am

Cell Phone Safety List




When I was hiking through the Andes, I saw people chatting on their cell phones. In Kerala, India, I saw fishermen call into shore from their boats to negotiate a price for the day’s catch. They even send pictures!



Cell phones are ubiquitous. Especially in the third world, they give people that wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it access to the internet. And in that way, the cell phone is one of the greatest inventions of our time.





But I’m conflicted about the health consequence.

A new study from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) warns that many of the new internet phones bombard your brain with dangerous electromagnetic waves.



These waves penetrate your skull and can double your risk of a brain tumor.

Back in 2003, the Food and Drug Administration assured us that cell phones do not cause brain cancer. Unfortunately, they based their study on only three years of cell phone use.



But if you use a cell phone for a decade or more, your risk goes up. Researchers in Scandinavia and the United Kingdom discovered that people who used cell phones for more than 10 years had a significantly higher risk of developing brain tumors.

Even more alarming is what happens to kids that use cell phones.



Young skulls are less than half the thickness of adults, making it much easier for radio waves to penetrate and damage the brain. Multiple studies show young children absorb more radiation than adults do, putting them at high risk for brain tumors.

A two-minute call can alter the natural electrical activity in your child’s brain for one hour. Multiply this by the average 2,600 minutes a month your child is on the phone…and you get 22 hours (nearly a day) of unnatural brain activity.



Wireless earpieces and keeping the phone in your pocket are not good options. The earpiece relies on radio waves for transmission – these go into your brain. The phone in your pocket is emitting radio waves straight to your vital organs, especially your genitals.

So what should you do? I for one don’t want to give up my cell phone. And I don’t suggest you give up yours either. But I do take certain steps to limit my radiation exposure.



Here are some steps you can take:


- Check what kind of radiation your phone emits. The lower, the better.
EWG has an updated list of the best and the worst phones.

- Put your phone in ‘airplane’ mode when you’re in places you can’t (or shouldn’t) use your phone – driving, theaters, meetings, and doctor’s offices. This reduces the number of radiation exposure hours.

- Go ‘hands-free’. The further away your phone is from your body – the less radiation penetrates you. Twelve inches (one foot) is the closest you should be to your phone.
Use a wired head set for all calls – make sure the cord is long enough so your phone is at least twelve inches away from you.

- Send text messages instead of calling. Or keep your calls short.
And possibly the hardest advice of all to implement… limit use of cell phones by your children and teens. I tell my son Dylan to text instead of call. This limits his exposure.



I keep my phone in my desk drawer while I’m at work. In the car, I keep it on the console. And when I’m going back and forth, I keep it in my briefcase. And I don’t use it for long. When I’m going to be on the phone for a while, I use a landline.



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Re: Health is Wealth: Find the Balance

Post  Regina on Thu Jun 24, 2010 1:32 pm

5 Easy Ways to Keep Your Brain Sharp


Everyone is forgetful, but as we age, we start to feel like our brains are slowing down a bit—and that can be the most frustrating thing in the world. Luckily, research shows there is a lot you can do to avoid those “senior moments." Whether it's relaxation or adding certain foods to your diet, read on for some techniques worth trying.


1. Chill Out

The brain remembers better when it’s relaxed, say researchers at the California Institute of Technology, so take a few minutes each day to breathe deeply or meditate. "The positive of meditation is you have focused concentration and relaxation taking place at the same time," says Elizabeth Edgerly, PhD, spokesperson for the Alzheimer's Association. "Researchers believe those things are good because they're developing new connections for your brain cells."


2. Focus on the Future

People who regularly made plans and looked forward to upcoming events had a 50 percent reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a recent study. But don’t worry if your calendar isn’t overflowing with life-changing events. Something as simple as setting a goal to have a weekly coffee date with a friend (and keeping it) will do. "Psychologically it keeps us motivated," Dr. Edgerly says. "There's evidence that people who have a purpose in life or who are working on long-or short-term goals appear to do better." In other words, keep your brain looking forward.


3. Go for a Walk

Mildly elevated glucose levels (even if you don’t have diabetes) can harm the area of the brain that helps you form memories, say Columbia University researchers. Experts agree that physical activity can help get blood glucose down to normal levels. In fact, the strongest evidence is regarding the effect of physical activity on the brain. Dr. Edgerly says, "When you exercise, you release chemicals that are good for your brain. It's like a mini fountain of youth in your brain, and the only way you can get it is exercise." In other words, when you take care of your heart, you take care of your brain.


4. Snack on Berries

Blueberries have compounds called anthocyanins that help communication between brain cells and appear to improve memory, says Robert Krikorian, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Cincinnati. In general, Dr. Edgerly says the darker the fruit or vegetable, the better. She adds, "It's a healthy, well-rounded diet, especially one that mimics a Mediterranean diet, and that's fish, lots of fruits and vegetables, and red wine, everyone likes the red wine part."


5. Learn Something New

Take a Spanish class online, join a knitting club, or learn to play poker. A UC Irvine study found that mental stimulation limits the debilitating effects of aging on memory and the mind. But the best thing for your brain, Dr. Edgerly insists, is when you combine learning something new with physical activity. "It should be something like dancing, or coaching a sport. Or go learn golf with your girlfriends. That sort of thing is even better for your brain than, say, a crossword puzzle.”




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