Stress and Life

An enlightened professor began his class by holding up a glass with some water in it. He held it up for all to see and asked the students, "How much do you think this glass weighs?"

"50 grams!"... "100 grams!"... "125 grams" ... the students answered.

"I really don't know unless I weigh it," said the professor, "but, my question is: What would happen if I held it up like this for a few minutes?"

"Nothing" the students said.

"Ok! What would happen if I held it up like this for an hour?" the professor asked.

"Your arm would begin to ache", said one of the students.

"You are right, now what would happen if I held it for a day?"

"Your arm could go numb, you might have severe muscle stress and paralysis and have to go to hospital for sure!" ventured another student; and all the students laughed.

"Very good. But during all this, did the weight of the glass change?" asked the professor.

"No" the whole class replied.

"Then what caused the arm ache and the muscle stress?" The students were puzzled.

"Put the glass down!" said one of the students.

"Exactly!" said the professor. "Life's problems are something like this. Hold it for a few minutes in your head and they seem okay. Think of them for a long time and they begin to ache. Hold it even longer and they begin to paralyze you. You will not be able to do anything."

It's important to think of the challenges (problems) in your life, that's the way it is with stress management. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on. As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden with more ease.

So, before you return home tonight, put the burden of work down. Don't carry it home. You can pick it up tomorrow. Whatever burdens you're carrying now, let them down for a moment if you can. Relax; pick them up later, after you've rested. Life is short. Enjoy it. Learn to manage stress and do not allow stress to manage you.

Good Life


Salt the Silent Killer

It just struck me last night that I have never ever mentioned about diet or food in this wellness blog. Incidentally, wherever I go these days, the topic of discussion veers towards ‘weight loss’. Anyhow, what is surprisingly overlooked all the time in these discussions is the major role of salt in our diet and life? So here is my pick of the day on SALT- the silent killer.

In our obsession to reduce on fats, carbs, sugar, colas, etc we have forgotten to monitor our intake of salt, which finds insidious ways of creeping into our body. We all know too much fat and sugar harms us, but did you know the same goes with our intake of daily salt. The World Health Organization has set a global target for maximum intake of salt for adults at 5 g/day (i.e., 2,000 mg/day of sodium). And the average salt consumption per person is between 10 and 15 grams!!!

Do you know how salt affects our health? Well, excess salt leads to water retention, adding up to a liter of water in the blood vessels at times. This not only makes you look plump but also adds to the volume of blood for the heart to pump. It is for this reason that cutting down salt helps maintain blood pressure at healthy levels. When your pressure goes down, the risk of developing heart diseases and stroke goes down too, irrespective of age.

A very modest decrease in the amount of salt- hardly detectable in the taste of food can have dramatic health benefits. In fact, a British Medical Journal study published last year in 2008 showed that eating less salt can cut down cardiovascular disease risk by a fourth and death by heart disease by a fifth over the following 10 to 15 years. Making a presentation at the American Heart Association’s 49th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention, researchers from the University of California-San Francisco said that for every gram of salt that people reduce in their diets daily, a quarter of a million fewer new heart diseases cases and over 200.000 fewer deaths would occur over a decade. The researchers say that a 3-gram-a-day reduction in salt intake could result in six percent fewer cases of new heart disease, eight percent fewer heart attacks, and three percent fewer deaths. As per the study in the Journal of Urology, eating too much salt by children can result in excess calcium in the urine. In children, most stones are calcium-based and their eating habits, plus drinking too little water, put them at risk of developing kidney stones.

Now, I’m not suggesting that all of this reduction of salt should be in your cooked meals. More than the freshly cooked food at home, what people need to watch out for is sodium in processed foods, which is found not only in salty foods, but also in breads, biscuits and chocolates. Salt not only enhances taste and gives texture, but also binds in water, which helps manufacturers to add bulk to their product. What’s worrying is that nutritional labels on packaged foods mislead many consumers. Nutritional labels list the sodium not salt content, which is always higher. To get the salt content in a packaged food, multiply the sodium value by 2.5. Cutting back on processed foods is an easy way to monitor salt intake, besides of course, reducing your salt intake in your daily cooking. Once the salt in the food goes down, so will your blood pressure.

Eleven countries in the European Union have agreed to reduce salt intake by 16% over the next 4 years, when will you? So next time, avoid that tempting cheese burger, fries, salty foods or refuse to add a dash of extra salt in your food. And get surprised to see the magnitude of positive health impact, by just very small reductions in salt in your daily intake.

Bon Appetit


Sex and the City

It's like the riddle of the Sphinx... why are there so many great married couples, and no great sex? What is un-natural may not be abnormal, at least in the bedroom of metropolitan people. For decades women have used “Not tonight darling, I’ve got a headache” excuse to avoid sex, but now men in cities are finding new excuses to put off sex as well.

I was talking to my colleague, Khursheed Kanga a Marriage and Family Therapist and she revealed how there’s an increase in her couple clients saying that the husbands were not having enough sex, compared to few years ago. Of course, the all time reasoning for the flagging interest why men were shunning sex was that they were tired, stressed, overworked, etc. However, Khursheed shocked me when she told me how there were many reasons for this flagging interest. One prime reason for the decrease in male sexual desire is the result of women’s changing role in society. Husbands get overwhelmed with the modern woman, who is confident and comfortable with her own sexual needs and desires.
Secondly, blame the internet, which is making men go overboard with sexual images so accessible on the net that they prefer the ever-ready fantasy of the web to the reality! The problem is further worsened by men who turn to alcohol to relax after work, and it has been proven how booze interferes with testosterone.

According to Khursheed, a lot is changing culturally and in an ironical manner. Though we are living in a more sexualized society, many men are not looking for more intensity in their sex lives. Mind you, men’s sex drive doesn’t dip suddenly - it's not like catching a cold where you wake up one morning and whoops, there it is. It is a gradual process. Certain psychological factors can also negatively influence the libido. Job stress and self-esteem are also big factors. If a man's performance at workplace is challenged, and he doesn't feel he is achieving or doesn't feel self-worth, he often numbs himself sexually. Desire is a healthy form of entitlement -- when you don't feel deserving, you shut down.

Talking about the psychological causes of low libido, there are various feelings or emotions that reduce interest in sex in men. Because of fear and anger, sexual desire can disappear in a few situations. Also fear of performance, fear of intimacy, fear of excitement, dissatisfaction with one's own body or suppression of events from childhood, traumatic and sad experiences that haven't been dealt with, nagging from the partner and conflicts in relationships, etc can influence the male libido. For all sorts of reasons, partners may become physically and personally less attractive to each other. Differences in sexual needs and the refusal of partners to respond to advances can lead to doubts about the self-image of the man or the self-image as the beloved partner.

Guys, sex is a great de-stress in today’s stressed out living. Those who want to spice up their sex life, I suggest there is a lot of content on the internet that help men overcome some of the issues they face with age, health or other problems. Also, couples need to talk about each others’ needs but most important is that both have to be willing to make it work. Finally, seek professional help from a qualified psychotherapist should the issues seem to be affecting your mental state of being/peace of mind. Good Luck!

As for me, well I'm thinking about Priesthood!