Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Putting your heart at risk

Two new studies have reported that the number of heart attacks is rising among middle-aged women and falling among men. The mortality rate for women is higher after a heart attack than for men at this time. Health professionals are emphasizing the importance of maintaining preventive interventions for cardiovascular risks by eating healthy, regular physical activity and not smoking. Another positive factor for a healthy heart is maintaining good social relationships.

Conflict increases coronary risk

Conflictual relationships can moderately increase the risk of coronary stress. Men and women who experienced conflict in their closest personal relationships were 34% more likely to have a heart attack or angina. “The possibility that negative close relationships are more powerful predictions of health than other aspects of social support is consistent with previous research findings indicating that individuals tend to mentally replay negative encounters more than they replay positive ones,” the researchers wrote. Researchers noted that depression, low self-esteem, and anger have been found to influence coronary disease through the cumulative ‘wear and tear’ on organs and tissues caused by alterations of autonomic functions.

All couples have conflict but if your relationship is constantly under stress and strain the risk of heart attack increases up to 34%. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine reports from a 12-year study of more than 9,000 men and women, that people who reported chronic conflict in their closest relationship had the highest risk of heart disease. This is due to the intense flood of hormones that is triggered when individuals become angry or stressed. The hormones cause the heart to beat faster, increase blood pressure and wears on the cardiac blood vessels. Unhappy marriages were also found to increase self-destructive behaviors of poor diet and increased drinking or smoking.

Agree to disagree

To avoid a heart attack see your family physician to discuss any lifestyle changes that you may need help with to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol or to quit smoking. For a healthy heart eat more seafood, nuts, and increase your exercise routine. If your relationship needs a check-up consider going to counseling or seeing your pastor for guidance. Learning how to “agree to disagree” can mend your relationship and your heart.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Simple acts of kindness can revitalize your relationship

Creating a healthy relationship with someone else starts with knowing yourself. Your attitude is the key to understanding yourself and the world you live in. It’s up to you to make the mental shift from a negative to positive perspective which allows you to see the possibilities in your life. ‘Life isn’t about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain.’

Sara Blakeslee of Marriage and Family Therapy Institute said “You should be in touch with your emotional side and be able to communicate those feelings in a constructive manner.” Most people are looking for a trustworthy companion who they can spend time with and have fun with. Sometimes the small, daily challenges in a relationship can have you focusing on the problems instead of the positive aspects of your relationship.

Blakeslee’s new book, 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great, gives simple steps on how to enhance your marriage or relationship. “Expect less, get more; give incentives and rewards; have daily briefings; implement change; and keep costs low, benefits high.” Another suggestion the book states is to build communication with the use of “affective affirmation” or speaking nice and affirming words to your spouse. This positive interchange will initiate the necessary alteration that can transform a relationship instantly.

Acts of kindness

Simple acts of kindness can rekindle feelings of love, respect and admiration in a relationship. “It’s not about the elaborate trips or expensive dinners,” motivational speaker Jay Forte explains. “Rather life becomes an event when you pay attention to the details that show you care.” Celebrate your relationship this week by recreating your first date, pull out old photos to recall fun memories or dance to music from your dating years. Surprise your partner with filling their car up with gas, unloading the dishwasher or purchasing a book by their favorite author. These thoughtful gestures let your partner know you are thinking about them and display the behaviors that say, “I love you.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Counseling as an intervention

Life is full of daily stressors, challenges and problem solving. Stress is a normal physical response to events that make you feel threatened or upset your balance in some way. The top three stressors that experts have identified are divorce, death of a loved one and financial concerns. “The majority of Americans struggle to find balance in the face of a multitude of challenges in our busy society,” said David L Shern Ph. D., president and CEO of Mental Health American.

How we choose to cope can jeopardize our health and relationships at home or work. If you feel overwhelmed or want to seek change in your life, counseling can be a positive option. Counseling can open communication, resolve conflict and help to find ways to move forward after experiencing loss or grief. What you are experiencing is unique to you and where you are in your life cycle. Counseling can provide support while working through the transitions of life.

Whether you want to work on personal growth, marital relationships or family dynamics counseling can be helpful. Studies show that solving problems when you are upset and emotional is nearly impossible. The brain needs at least 30 minutes to return to normal functioning after an argument. Counseling can be a safe environment to get constructive suggestions when facing a dilemma. Couples can sound impressive when they say “we never fight”. The reality is that if you don’t disagree you probably aren’t talking about important issues together. It is how you handle or manage the conflict that will determine the effect on your relationship.

Counseling can help keep the communication flowing when resolving a conflict.
Chronic high stress can squeeze the love and friendship out of relationships and kill it a little each day. It can be toxic to your marriage and family’s happiness. To heal your relationships from conflict and the wounds that evolve a third party is needed sometimes. Choose a licensed professional with experience in your area of concern to help return the healthy interaction and love you desire with your partner

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Take the love dare this month

The month of February bombards us with commercials of purchasing certain products to display the love that you feel for the people in your life. As we struggle with the different relationships in our lives, most people realize that there is more to intimacy than just purchasing an item. People come from all walks of life and from all over the world. We come in all shapes and sizes, old and young with different hopes and desires. The one thing that we all have in common is that each and every one of us desire to matter and be loved.

Show them you care...

People show that they care for one another in their words, actions and attitudes that are displayed each and every day. This gift of love has no dollar value and must be nurtured for it to thrive. It may cost you your time to simply be with someone when they are sad, hurt or lonely. There are unlimited ways that you can let the people in your life know you are thinking of them. You may make their favorite meal or surprise them by purchasing tickets to a special event or show. Plan a special evening alone or finish the “honey do” list that has been pending for months. Money and gifts can prove their love for one day but it can leave you lonely for the remainder of the year.

Rekindle your love......

Over time relationships can become strained with the pressures of life and couples may desire to renew or rekindle their love. The Love Dare, written by Alex and Stephen Kendrick who are pastors at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia wrote a forty-day guided devotional experience that leads your heart back to truly loving your spouse. Each day asks you to look at specific ways to display love to your partner to heal your relationship. These are simple acts of love that can also be used for children, extended family members or anyone who has been difficult for you to display unconditional love to. So this Valentine’s Day challenge yourself to improve or revitalize your relationships all year round.

“If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.” Maya Angelou