Ask Dr. Miller: Dealing with Stress in the World Today

What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 stress?  In this podcast I explain the difference, give examples of each and provide simple ways (affirmations) to quickly release stress and enter a relaxed state of mind, body and spirit.

This audio excerpt is from my program Stress Fitness Volume 1. Please visit my online store at ShopDrMiller.com for more information about this and my other audio programs.

Green Exercise Heals the Mind

Exercising, even for just five minutes, in a “green space,” such as a park or trail, can boost your mental health, according to researchers in the U.K . 1

They looked at evidence from 1,250 people in 10 studies and found significant improvements in mood and self-esteem after just minutes of such activities as walking, gardening, cycling, fishing, boating, horse riding and farming. In each study, mood and self-esteem were measured using two widely accepted assessment scales. All types of green exercise led to improvements in mental health indicators.

Most surprising was that the largest effect was seen within five minutes! After that, increased green exercise continued to add benefit but with decreasing returns.

The health changes – physical and mental – were particularly dramatic in the young and the mentally ill. Interestingly, an even greater effect was observed when the activity took place in an area near water, such as a lake or river.

Study leader Jules Pretty, a researcher at the University of Essex, said those who were generally inactive, stressed, and/or mentally ill would probably benefit the most from “green exercise. Employers, for example, could encourage staff in stressful workplaces to take a short walk at lunchtime in the nearest park to improve mental health.” He also said exercise programs outdoors could benefit youth offenders.

Once again, we have solid evidence that even a short period of green exercise can provide a low cost and drug-free therapy to help improve mental wellbeing. Anyone experiencing depression should be certain to add this kind of activity to whatever treatment or self-help regimen they have chosen.

Other powerful tools for helping to heal from depression, sadness and grief are presented on “ Escape from Depression, ” a two CD program for learning how to use your mind, meditation, imagery, autosuggestion and affirmations to speed your recovery.

For a set of effective imagery tools for dealing with loss of any kind, “ Accepting Change and Moving On ” can also be downloaded or purchased on CD.

Q. There are so many “alternatives” in alternative health. How do I know what choices are healthy for me — what foods to eat, pills to take, books to read? WHERE DO I BEGIN?

A.  It’s an individual matter. Everyone is different. Diseases don’t make choices, people do. The primary goal of the excellent physician, healer, or health practitioner is to serve the person — to enhance, enrich and empower them by all available means. So if you are choosing a healer, find one that treats you as a patient, not a disease.

If you go to a herbalist you will get herbs; if you go to a nutritionist, a diet. The chiropractor will adjust you, and the acupuncturist will try needles. So you must be in contact with your inner wisdom, before you decide which path to take, and which advice to follow. The first step in any treatment should be to put yourself in touch with your own inner wisdom — the Wise Self, the most mature, intelligent, experienced “adult” part of you.

When this Wise Self is contacted and empowered, it can help you make such decisions very effectively. The person who drinks too much alcohol yet takes another drink, the smoker who knows that cigarettes aren’t good for her lungs but opens another pack anyway, the sedentary office-worker who is not getting a sufficient number of workout hours, the overweight person who can’t resist dessert or a second helping–each of these are situations where the ability to contact and listen to a powerful Wise Self would have enormous effects upon health, relationships, self-image, self-esteem and performance.

When temptation comes along, it is this wise part of us we want to bring into play.  It can see the temptation, measure what good or bad it would bring into our life, how it would affect those we love, how it would affect the future.  We then weigh the risks and benefits and then choose what to do.

It’s much like someone who is going to go out backpacking.  They know there is not much chance of rain, but they have to decide whether to carry the extra pounds of rainproof gear; poncho, canvas, tent, etc.  The thought of not having to lug all that along is very appealing.  But who wants to be trapped out in cold weather without rainproofing?  So, our intrepid backpacker takes rain gear.

On the other hand, when he considers whether or not to take signal flares and a ten pound emergency transmitter along, he reaches a different conclusion! This process is very similar to the one we should use when we have health choices to make. We don’t want to be reckless, but neither do we want to become hypochondriacs. The Wise Self knows where the balance point is.

Q. How do you find this balance point?

A. In my books, tapes, and lectures, I often refer to the “Serenity Prayer.” With all the technology at our disposal, this ancient prayer is still one of the greatest healing tools available. To bring balance into our life, we can ask the Wise Self to “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” This serves as an invitation to the deeper mind  to open up our intuition so that we make the right choices in life, without becoming dependent on doctors, priests, or psychologists.

There are many other ways to communicate with our higher self. In Deep Healing; The Essence of Mind/Body Medicine, I emphasize three ways to do this.

1. Deep Relaxation, The Doorway to Deep Healing: First of all, deep relaxation is the simplest and fastest path through which anyone can improve their health and well-being.  It can be dramatically effective in relieving symptoms such as inflammation, anxiety, and muscle tension. It improves circulation and speeds up healing.  Through deep relaxation we can put aside the stress that blocks our link to the higher Self.

2. Positive Self-Programming:  Focused affirmations are very powerful. People have always used the power of self-talk to reinforce what they know to be true, and to get in touch with the higher self. They can counteract older, negative, or troublesome messages we may have been receiving from the world around us, or that we have been sending to ourselves and thus, out into the world around us. Our self-talk is a powerful inner mechanism through which we can make dramatic changes in our lives. It can effect every part of our being-mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. These changes put us more in synch with the higher self.

The Master Skill, Positive Mental Imagery: Imagery helps us change our situation and our habits.  When an image is held in the mind, it will tend to elicit from the nervous system reactions that are consistent with that image, and this effects all the organs of the body. By developing the skill of creating positive mental imagery (PMI), we can get an image of our higher self, and begin to journey with it in ways that work for us.

When these three are combined, it can vastly improve our ability to perform at optimal levels, even when taking on some of life’s greatest challenges. It can also awaken our conscious connection with the Wise Self, which will guide us towards the best healer or physician. But let’s not forget that the Wise Self is the most powerful healer we will ever meet.