Resolutions For The New Year, Will They Last Or Disappear?

 
 
The year’s gone, the new year’s here
The time for resolutions draws near
How many will succeed, only time will tell
While bidding the past year a fond farewell
 
 
 

 

Weight loss and exercise are the top two,
Giving up smoking can be a break through
Managing money better is in great style
Reducing debt can put a big smile
 
 
 
 
Energized and excited, but with nary a plan
Soon fizzles out for many a common man
Successful people get a head start        
Beginning the process with a vision chart
                                                   
 
 
 
 
Come January 1st, we hit the gym
In an attempt to look like the kardashian twin
But the next day when the muscles get sore
Resolutions go out the proverbial door.
 
 
 
           To lose weight we go on a diet
           Is it motivating? We go very quiet
           The thought of celery makes us cringe
           As if it was a hypodermic syringe.
 
 
  
 
Why do resolutions fail, you may ask
Why is getting results such a big task?
I do have willpower, you may say
So why don’t I get results, to my great dismay?
 
  
 
 
 
 
A lot of us set unrealistic goals
And our strategies have a lot of holes
Instant gratification is the name of the game
The more we want to change, the more we stay the same.
 
 
 
 
 
It may be the new year, but it’s the same you
Unless you change your habits, its as hard as kung fu
We usually start with a false expectation
Without creating a rock solid foundation
 
  
                                                                             
    Don’t be cynical, small and critical
    This is not being savvy and analytical
    Inspiring it is not, nor is it smart
    Change your habits, before you fall apart
 
 
 
An abstract goal is a sure fail
It does not motivate, it will not prevail
For long lasting results, a habit create
With the power to restore the natural state.
 

 

 
Set small, specific and achievable goals
Create the foundation, gives you control
Forget the excuses and be committed
Then, in your mind you will stand acquitted.
 

 

 
Believe in your ability, create a smart plan
You will do it, if you think you can.
Journey of a 1000 miles starts with a step
But it may fail without a proper prep.
 
 
 
 
Habit: stop smoking one cigarette a day
Habit: add a small salad before your filet
Habit: walk for 15 minutes daily, a child’s play
Habit: meditate for 5 minutes, this is the way.
 
 
 
 
Resolve to be kind, lend a hand
Resolve to smile, instead of command
Resolve to laugh and to understand
Resolve to breathe, help your adrenal gland.
 
 
 
 
                               
   Live abundantly, avoid deprivation
   Align with your values, avoid frustration
   Set intentions, make them meaningful
   Make life joyous and peaceful.
 
 
 
 
 
Final thought:
The past is gone, never to return
Future no one can see, important to discern
Make goals, but live in the present
This, my friend, to you is my present.
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‘Tis the Season………

Dealing with Holiday stress.

It’s the holiday season, and it always brings to mind the opening line from “A Tale of Two Cities” – ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  It was the season of light, it was the season of darkness….it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.’

Most people are filled with joy for the coming season, but for many the feelings of joy are coupled with anxiety and stress.  The crowds and long lines associated with shopping; traveling long distances; holiday parties and get-togethers; and the thought of spending time with family members can all contribute to the stress of the season.  This stress can manifest itself in a variety of ways – from headaches to insomnia to depression and despair.  Although we all deal with some level of stress throughout the year, the holidays seem to add an additional level of pressure to our lives.  Before we can address how to deal with holiday stress, let’s discuss some of its root causes.

Stress can be caused by a variety of factors during this time of year.  The most prevalent cause is simply a hectic schedule.  For most people this month means adding a lot of ‘to do’s’ to our already long list of things to get accomplished.  This may be long hours at work, hours trying to find a parking space at the mall, large crowds everywhere we go, dealing with fellow shoppers and the added worry about spending extra money…..all of which can trigger emotional and physical ailments such as headaches, depression and anxiety.

Another category of stress is due to the unique nature of holidays, a time of joy and peace which often eludes us amid the sparkling lights and sounds of seasonal music.  It’s expected that during this time of year we spend hours, days or even weeks with our family.  If your family is like most families – a little dysfunctional – then the prospect of quality time with parents, children, brothers, sisters, cousin, aunts and/or uncles is not always a reason to celebrate.  Our relationships with those we’re related to are not always simple and harmonious, and the history of past hurts, disappointments and unresolved issues can heap additional stress on an already overwhelming season.

 

Ironically, the opposite may also cause us grief during this time of year – not being able to spend time with loved ones.  The lack of having family members to share the holidays; whether separated by distance or the despair over lost loved ones can create a sense of loneliness, stress and a worsening of depression.

And the number one cause of anxiety is the financial burdens that often accompany this season of giving.  Not only do many of us have to figure out what special gift to get for others, but we worry about the costs of those gifts on our already strained budgets.  Then there are the decorations, the food, the new dress for the holiday parties, etc…..All of these various factors take a toll on our lives and contribute to our increasing stress levels.

The big question is – how do we deal with holiday stress?  Since it is nearly impossible to eliminate the causes of stress during this time of year, I am suggesting a few effective and straightforward approaches to cope with the seasonal demands:  meditate, taking time to relax and deep breathing exercises.  By taking a few minutes every day to relax and breathe can be very helpful in strengthening your immune system and helping you deal with the physical and emotional toll of the holidays.

Preparation is an important aspect of stress management, and mental preparation is more important than physical preparation because you will never be able to foresee everything that might pop up in your day-to-day schedule.  Take some time out in the morning before your day starts, sit down in a quiet place and visualize how you want your day to unfold.  This visualization is a very powerful tool that will assist you in getting through your day.  Experiment with it and make it a daily habit.  (I will discuss the power of visualization in a future blog.)

Next, set aside some time in the morning and during the day to do the following basic breathing exercise.  It only takes a few minutes and is a very effective way to bring about instant relaxation.

  • Find a comfortable position.  Make sure clothes are not tight or restrictive.
  • Sit or stand erect.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Inhale steadily through the nostrils for a long, deep breath.  Do not force your breathing.  As you breathe in, focus your attention to the air entering your nose.  Feel the cool, calming breath bringing in new, fresh energy and oxygen to energize your body.
  • Retain the breath for several seconds.
  • Exhale very slowly, holding the chest in a firm position.  As you exhale, focus your attention on the air as it comes out of your nostrils.  Imagine the stress leaving your body and disappearing into the air – leaving you refreshed and relaxed.  Do not force your breath; keep it comfortable.
  • After completely exhaling, relax the chest and abdomen.
  • Repeat.

It truly is a beautiful time of the year when we celebrate the time that has passed and look forward to a new year with fresh starts and renewed hopes and dreams.  Hopefully you will be able to take a few moments every day to relax and enjoy the season with all its gifts and promises.

Be Enlightened.

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Lose the fat…..lose the headaches? Maybe..

Lose the fat…..lose the headaches? Maybe..

 

Meet Linda, a 38 y/o woman with severe migraine headaches. She works as a receptionist in a real estate office, is married but has no children. Her work is stressful and she does not get a chance to exercise much. She usually has a cup of coffee with a bagel for breakfast; sometimes she will drink a glass of orange juice. She does drink a couple of cans of soda a day, eats a “healthy” lunch of a chicken salad and a burger, or a turkey sandwich. She usually has some type of a snack, either chips or a candy bar. Dinner is usually out, since she does not have time to cook. Oh and did I mention she weighs 210 lbs?

Most doctors who treat headaches would not generally see a connection between her headaches and her weight. And most patients do not either. Whenever I mention this to my patients, I usually get a quizzical look and raised eyebrows. Yet, my experience has shown some benefit in headache control with weight loss.

So what is this relationship of fat and migraine headaches? Recently, a study was published in the journal Neurology which explored this relationship between headache and weight. A team from Johns Hopkins did a survey of approximately 4000 people and found that people who had a higher body mass index (BMI) had a higher chance of having episodic migraines. In fact, obese patients were 81% more likely to have at least 14 headaches a month, compared to their non-obese counterparts. This was especially true in obese women.

For those of you who do not know what a BMI is, let me define it for you. It is a formula designed to calculate your fat content based on your height and weight. If you want to calculate your BMI, there are many sites on the internet that can help you calculate it. If you want to do it yourself, hey, don’t ask me. Type in “how do I calculate my BMI” in any search engine and you can learn the formula. Just kidding! (Actually, it is pretty simple: take your weight in lbs, divide by the square of your height in inches and multiply that number by 703. See?…..Simple!) Once you have figured out your BMI, check in the table below to see what category you belong to. You may be surprised.

Underweight = BMI <18.5

Normal weight = BMI between 18.5–24.9

Overweight = BMI between 25–29.9

Obese = BMI of 30 or greater

However, this study did not look at the cause and effect. In other words, it did not show that obesity causes migraine headaches. It only showed a relationship. It showed that obese people are more at risk for having more frequent headaches. Not only that, it is also unclear which came first: did the headache cause the increased weight or did the obesity cause worsening of the headache? In some cases, some of the medications for headache prevention can cause increased weight gain.

The obvious question that follows is whether losing weight helps reduce the headaches. There is no good scientific evidence although a couple of small studies do show a positive benefit. This study also did not look at whether losing weight decreases the frequency of headaches. Intuitively it does seem that treating one will help the other. Eliminating processed foods from your diet and eating healthy foods will help both conditions. And anecdotal evidence does seem to suggest a benefit in headache control by losing weight. In my experience, losing weight has decreased the headache burden in many of my patients, though not all. Take Linda, for example, just losing 20 lbs by changing her eating habits and starting to exercise helped her headaches significantly. At the Beverly Hills Headache Institute, our treatment protocol includes lifestyle changes.

If obesity does cause increased headaches, the mechanism by which this happens is still under debate. There is a theory that fat tissue (also known as adipose tissue) releases inflammatory substances that can trigger the part of the brain that causes headache. It may also be that headache induces a more sedentary lifestyle: People with headache are less inclined to exercise because of their pain.

The types of food one consumes can be a factor as well. Many of the foods that cause obesity can also trigger migraine headaches. Processed foods, such as chips, cookies, soda and the like are all pro-inflammatory. They will cause headaches and also cause obesity.

So what can you do if you have some excess weight that you want to get rid of? Should you go on a diet? Personally, I do not like the word “diet.” Let me ask you a question. When you hear the word “diet,” does it make you feel good about the fact that you should go on a diet, or does it make you cringe? Do you say, “Oh boy, I look forward to starting this diet where I have to count my calories and give up all the things I enjoy eating”? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t think diets work. All diets work….for some people…..for a certain period of time. But most of us cannot sustain these diets in the long run. Eventually you will go off the diet and the weight comes right back, if not more. That’s why diets are generally called the “Yo-Yo diets.”

Weight loss is a very important but personal topic. There are many different ways in which you can accomplish that. Suffice to say that if you suffer from migraine headaches and you carry some excessive weight, you may want to consider joining a weight management program. Who knows, it may help your headaches as a welcome side effect!

 

Until next time

Be enlightened.

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Spirit of Halloween

Are you celebrating Halloween today? Are you going to dress up like Superman or your favorite comic-book hero or some other more “sinister” character? Or are you going to lock yourself up in your house and turn off all the lights so when the trick-o-treaters come, you can pretend you are not home so you don’t have to give out candy, because you forgot to buy it yesterday and the stores are all out? Are you too “adult” to participate in this silly costume party?

Or do you suffer from Samhainophobia?

What comes to mind when you think of Halloween? Candies, trick-or-treat, costumes, mock fear? How about horror movies? You don’t really believe in monsters and ghosts, do you? Are the dead going to rise again? However, whether you believe in them or not, they do form the basis for this holiday.

Did you know that Halloween, the festival of costumes, started as a mix of ancient religious rituals and folk traditions? It is generally known as a time of celebration and superstition. It was long thought that on this day the dead return to earth, and the ancient people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off these roaming ghosts.

The name “Halloween” also has an interesting history. In the 800s, the Pope designated November 1 as All-Saints’ Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. The name “All Saints Day” in Middle English is known as All-hallowmas, and the night before that came to be called as Al-Hallows eve, which eventually became Halloween. Over the centuries though, Halloween became more of a children’s’ holiday, and lost most of its religious significance. No mention of ghosts or the dead here, though.

On the other hand, the ancient Celts believed that on this day some mischievous spirits would cause trouble for the living folk. They would set huge bonfires to drive away the evil spirits. Sometimes they would light lanterns or candles out of vegetables to guide the good spirits. In America, the lanterns were carved out of pumpkins, also known as Jack O’Lanterns. In the 1800s, Halloween became a more widely celebrated festival, with fireworks, storytelling involving ghosts. Naughty children would create mischief and play pranks. The trick or treat concept did not start until the early 1900s, when some people started turning the holiday into vandalism, using the excuse of Halloween to engage in criminal activity. So, schools and other civic organizations started creating safe events like the local neighborhood Trick or Treat outings and school festivals.

Can you guess which city became known as the “Halloween Capital of the World”? It was Anoka, Minnesota. Anoka became the first city to officially hold a Halloween celebration, organizing a parade and people wearing elaborate costumes. The festival has grown in popularity and size and is held every year.

This holiday has also become influenced by commercialism, and has lost its spiritual meaning. It has evolved into America’s 2nd largest commercial holiday. Even though the holiday itself does not instill any fear anymore, it has provided ample material to fuel the imagination of countless commercial enterprises, including horror movies, haunted attractions or haunted theme parks.

By the way, Samhainophobia, is a fear of Halloween.

Action item: So, as we get ready to start celebrating this holiday, let’s reflect on how we can bring a deeper meaning into the holiday. I propose that we do something different that will bring more joy and warmth than just spending money buying candy. How about hanging out with your son or daughter and showing them how much they mean to you? Spending quality time with them. If you don’t have children, maybe spending time with your nieces or nephews. Or maybe spend time at the local Children’s hospital. Bring some cheer to someone, make a connection. Change the commercialism into humanism.

Halloween.001

I would love to hear from you and share your story of who you connected with for the Halloween holiday. Whose life did you touch, even if for a moment? How did that experience make you feel? Email me and tell us your story.

Be Enlightened.

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Does stress lead to breast cancer?

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”- Walt Kelly in Pogo.

Here is some sobering news to ponder upon, during this month devoted to Breast Cancer Awareness: Breast cancer is the most common invasive cancer in women, accounting for 16% of all female cancers and approx 23% of all invasive cancers. And while there are many risk factors, causes and various treatments, I want to focus on the relationship of stress to cancer.

bc-ribbon3

It has been suggested that cancer is a “disease of civilization.” What this implies is that our modern lifestyle has brought changes in our lives that were not present decades ago. Cancer occurs in part because of our inability to adapt well to the living conditions of our daily modern life. Part of this is due to exposure to various factors such as toxins in the environment, air pollution, radiation, smoking and other factors known as environmental carcinogens. A carcinogen is any substance known to cause cancer.

But, are there internal carcinogens as well? Are there certain behaviors and other psychological factors that can cause cancer? People have long suspected that there is a relationship of stress to cancer but until recently, there was no clear-cut scientific evidence of this association. There is now increasing evidence that exposure to what are known as psychosocial stressors is an important factor to consider in the development of cancer. In other words, the way we live our life can lead to cancer.

Consider the following: Women who have children at a younger age are less likely to develop breast cancer. Single, older working women with no children are much more likely to develop ovarian cancer. In fact they are 14 times more likely to develop this deadly disease than housewives. It has also been shown that women with a history of extreme stresses in the past, such as traumatic life events, have significantly higher rates of breast cancer than those that do not have such stresses. Is this a result of the external environment or are there other factors to consider?

Our body is a remarkable machine that fights disease every day. The part of the body that is constantly repairing the damage that occurs daily to our cells is the immune system. Basically the immune system does 3 things when it is fighting cancer:

  1. Prevents the cancer causing agents from invading in the first place.
  2. Repairing damaged cells
  3. Killing cancer cells.

And guess what? Stress can affect each of the above 3 things.

However, let me be very clear. Despite what I have just said, there is no direct evidence linking stress to cancer. In fact, many studies that have tried to establish a relationship between the 2 conditions have not been able to show cause and effect. One explanation could be that stress causes people to develop bad habits which may be linked to cancer. For eg, people under stress may start smoking or eat more junk food or stop exercising, or start drinking. There may be other unknown factors.

Recently, the Journal of Clinical Investigation reported a study that showed a much more direct relationship. In this study, the researchers showed that there is a master gene which appears to help cells adapt to stress. This gene is known as the stress response gene ATF3 and it becomes activated when the body becomes stressed. When stress causes permanent damage to cells, this gene helps these cells to commit suicide, thereby protecting the body from harm. Actually, depending on which cells are activated, this gene can cause cells to die, survive or increase in number.

When cancer cells develop, the body attempts to control them by sending immune cells to fight them. However, it was recently shown that cancer cells turn on the ATF3 gene in these immune cells so that the immune cells start to malfunction, and instead of destroying the cancer cells, this malfunction allows cancer cells to escape and spread to other parts of the body, a process known as metastasis. The activation of this gene has been shown to result in poor outcome in breast cancer patients.

So, what does this all mean? To me, it reinforces our knowledge of how stress can contribute to cancer. It does not answer the question whether stress causes breast cancer but it underscores the importance of controlling the negative stress in your life.

So, do yourself a favor: Learn a simple stress management strategy that you can employ regularly. Be proactive and do something, anything, to decrease your level of stress. Take a yoga class. Exercise. Laugh more often.

At the very least, learn how to breathe properly. Let’s do it together right now: Take a deep breath through your nose. Hold it. Breathe out through your mouth. Repeat.

Until next time…

Be enlightened.

 Picture Reference: http://erinsse.blogspot.com/2012/10/breast-cancer-awareness-knowing-it.html
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A new type of stress?

 

A new type of stress?

I recently saw a 26 year old young man in my office. I have actually been seeing him for a few months. He is highly successful, even at such a young age, working at a fast-paced job in the entertainment industry.

His main complaint was difficulty sleeping at night. He could not seem to shut his brain down. He was always on the go, working at multiple projects at any given time, in fact, he thrived on the fact that he did not sit in one place for more than a few minutes.

But lately, he seemed to be feeling a little anxious. He had tried taking different types of sleeping pills but they didn’t really work for him too much. He was beginning to feel a little fatigued which concerned him because he considered himself to be in his prime. He was diagnosed a few years ago with attention deficit disorder, otherwise known as ADD, and was taking medication to keep him more focused.

One thing that struck me during our conversation was that he kept getting interrupted by his phone which was ringing incessantly. OK, you know I am a nice guy. I don’t get too upset when my patient gets a call or two and they have to take it for whatever reason. And yes, I have been known to take a call myself when I am seeing patients (of course these are calls from the hospitals with patient-related questions). For those of you reading this who are my patients, no comments please. This is my story and I am sticking to it…..lol.

Ahem! Where was I? Oh yes, so my patient’s phone was ringing way too much and he would “have to” take each call because he was conducting some important meetings and needed to be in touch. Finally, I got a little irritated (yes, I do get that sometimes), and asked him if he ever was without his phone. He sheepishly replied with a sigh, “I wish.” Suddenly, I realized his problem: Information overload! Technology stress!!

So I suggested to him that I have a solution for him but he will not like it. I told him that he was addicted to technology. And it is an addiction that most of us are victims of. And I suggested an intervention. He was not very happy about it but he did realize the truth, even though he was initially resistant to accept it. He just did not want to acknowledge that it was true.

 

Just think about it. How much time do you actually spend away from technology? I am not counting electrical appliances such as hair dryers, washing machines, toaster ovens and the like. I am talking about computers, televisions, cell phones, ipads, laptops, even GPS systems. (Just a sidebar about GPS: I was shocked to realize how many of our youngsters have no idea how to even read a road map; they have no sense of direction at all…. unbelievable!!)

What do most of you do when you have to wait for someone? Do you take out a book and read? Do you close your eyes and meditate or even take a nap? Or do you take out your ever so versatile cell phone to either text someone, check your email, play tetris, get on facebook, or use one of the many hundreds of apps you have downloaded on your iphone or droid?

I recently read about a study (where else but on the internet) in which losing their internet connection was now considered as one of the top stressors, even more stressful that losing heat or water (this was a London-based study). It was also shown that heavy internet users when forced to go offline, went into withdrawal symptoms similar to drug addicts. Are you one of them? In fact technology-related stress has been shown to cause increased levels of dissatisfaction with life.

And so it was with my patient. Further history confirmed that he was suffering from technology stress. And his insomnia was in part due to his inability to turn off his phone. However, recognizing the problem and doing something about it are not necessarily the same. But the first step is recognition.

Have you ever finished a meal without being interrupted by the phone? Do you eat in front of the TV or the computer? If you are forced to wait for something, whether an appointment, or standing in line at the supermarket or the airport, or simply walking down the sidewalk, do you whip out your phone so you don’t “waste time?” Do you check your phone for emails the first thing you do when you wake up? Texting friends at night before going to sleep? Did you know that 25% of people are connected to their internet within 5 minutes of waking up? Do you suffer from FOMO (“fear of missing out”) (I didn’t make up this, I swear) if you are unable to get updates on what your FB friends are doing? Do you pay more attention to your phones or your family and friends?

Maybe its time to take a hard look at yourself. Go stand in front of the mirror, look at the person looking back at you and ask him or her: Am I suffering from technology-overload syndrome? Can I stay away from iphone/droid without going into withdrawal?

How many of you multi-task? I admit I do. But more and more people are realizing the negative effects of this common panacea of modern life. I can be sitting in front of my computer working on a project, while talking to one person on the phone and texting to another. And even on the computer I will have many windows open, emailing someone while working on a patient’s file, all the while eating my lunch. Some of you may be doing even more tasks. But is that truly more productive? Are you able to devote full attention to any one of those tasks?

So let’s take a small step towards unshackling ourselves from the handcuffs of technology. Let’s create some techno-free times (TFTs) during our day. Pick an activity you would not normally do otherwise: read a book, go for a walk and leave your phone behind, eat lunch or dinner with friends or family and turn your phone off, have a conversation with someone by paying full attention to them. Resist the urge to answer every call or text immediately.

Oh yes! And what happened to my patient? Following some of my simple suggestions (after resisting much initially), he was able to sleep better without any pills, his fatigue improved, his concentration actually improved even while decreasing his medication for his ADD.

So how many of you are ready to join me in creating TFTs? Drop me a line and let me know. And join me tomorrow to learn about the mistakes even smart people make about stress that leave them exhausted, burnt-out and running on empty.

Until next time

Be enlightened

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“Failure is not an option”…Really?

“Failure is not an option”…Really?

What does this phrase, “Failure is not an option,” mean to you? Do you agree with it? Disagree? Do you think it is a good guiding principle to live by?

 

Actually for all you history aficionados, this phrase “Failure is not an option,” is the title of a book by Gene Krantz, the NASA Flight Director, who directed the successful Mission Control team efforts to save the crew of Apollo 13. This later became a major motion picture of the same name. If you want to know more about that, you can go search the Wikipedia.

However, for our context today, this phrase, “failure is not an option” is about the concept that failing is a bad thing. Is it? Well, since I am asking this question, the obvious answer is probably not the correct answer. Right? Let me ask you another question. When I mention the word “failure”, what emotion does it bring up? Is it a positive, feel-good emotion? Or is it a sense of dread or foreboding? No one wants to fail. No one prepares to fail. You may dread it but you don’t prepare to fail. So, it is a “bad thing”….to a certain extent. You don’t want to be always failing in school. However, just like everything in life, when taken to an extreme, it can be destructive.

So, let’s first define failure. This is a little difficult, as failure means different things to different people. The dictionary definition of failure is “an act or instance of failing or proving unsuccessful; lack of success”. For most people, failing an exam is failure. Not reaching a goal is a failure. For example, if you wanted to lose 20 lbs and did not lose even 1, that would generally be considered a failure.

As a physician, it is my job to get to the root cause of my patients’ various ailments. I have found that stress plays a big role in causing patients to become sick. And in many instances, stress is caused in part by an underlying fear. The fear of failure, of not being good enough. This is usually reinforced by having actually failed in achieving some long-sought-after goal. And the fear of failing again stops a lot of them from pursuing the goal that they would like to achieve. And so they settle for a life they do not enjoy.

However, if we go beyond the dictionary definition, failure is actually NOT an instance of failing, or of becoming unsuccessful. Actual failure is when, after having failed, you do not get back up again. Falling down, or failing an exam, or not achieving a goal…these are not failures.

Admitting defeat is. Failing to get back up after falling, is.

The famous general George Patton said, I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom.

Everyone will fail at something, sometime in their life. But giving up because you failed…that is the ultimate failure. All advancements in any field have occurred because people did not admit defeat after failing at something.

Have you failed at something? Did you become disillusioned after not achieving something you really wanted? Have you ever said….I am not cut out for this or that? Maybe you are or maybe you aren’t. And I don’t mean to imply that you should be doggedly pushing forth in everything you do. It is possible that you are not meant to be doing something you might really wish. However, my point is that a lot of times, we might be giving up too easily. If it is worth having, then it is worth fighting for.

I too have experienced failure in my life. My life has not gone the way I envisioned. I have had my share of “Why me?” moments. I have experienced tremendous financial setbacks. I have lost close friendships. I have had instances of falling where I almost did not get back up again. Almost…!

I have been fortunate to have had good life instructors. One of them was my father who taught me never to give up. He used to tell me that there is a lesson in every so-called mishap. Life’s greatest lessons are in its biggest failures. We need to have faith and trust. Faith in the fact that things will always work out in the end; trust in yourself and your instincts. And I listened. They were not easy lessons to learn, to be sure. But I have become a wiser man because of all the failures and successes in my life.

In fact, I learnt that success usually starts with failure. Most of us are not lucky enough to become successful at everything we do the first time. Success comes from learning from our mistakes and relaunching our efforts armed with enhanced knowledge and more experience. Learning how NOT to do it as valuable as learning how to do it.

How do we normally react to failure? When we fail, what part of us feels it the most? It is our ego. This is where our ego becomes our worst enemy. Unfortunately, society does not reward failure, so we don’t learn how to handle failure. Many of us learn the wrong lesson and we limit our dreams of success because we are afraid of failure. We accept a life of mediocrity because going for the success we want becomes too daunting an enterprise. Why do you think stress is so common? Stress happens when things are not going the way we want. Part of mastering stress is learning how to deal with failure.

If we want to succeed big, we must be prepared to fall big. We need to step outside of our comfort zone. Growth does not happen inside our comfort zone. We have to step beyond that, into the zone of uncertainty. The risks are big, but so are the rewards.

So, let’s become friends with failure. In fact, if we want to be successful, it is imperative that we become friends with failure. You may actually have to change some of your friends. Look around you. Who do you hang out with? Will they support your failures and encourage you, or discourage you from your path? Are you willing to discuss your dreams with them or are you afraid of their response? Let’s surround ourselves with people who will lift us up and help us achieve our goal. Don’t let fear of failure stop you.

Are you willing to fail? The answer better be yes.

Until next time

Be enlightened.

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Pills in America: technological advancement or disease promoters!

According to Death by Medicine, each year approximately 106,000 individuals die from use or abuse of prescription medications.  Now more than ever, people are looking for solutions to their problems in the form of a pill.  There is a pill designed in every shape and form to treat almost every condition in existence.  Medicine may be becoming more technologically savvy, but the dependency on those medications has grown exponentially as well.  This sociological problem far surpasses the threat of terrorism and war.  This drug dependency has become a social problem that claims thousands of lives every year. It has become a crisis that needs attention in a very serious way.

Although prescription medications are legal, they contain contents that can stimulate addiction if taken more than directed by a physician, and in some cases, even if they are taken as prescribed.  Some medications can be as addictive as illegal drugs such as heroin and methamphetamine. In fact, some controlled medications have very similar ingredients as these illegal drugs.  Drug dependency is very similar to drug addiction no matter if it is legal or illegal, and today, many people, including teenagers, abuse prescription medications to the point of addiction.

Increasing numbers of people are relying on drugs to control their medical symptoms. When a problem presents itself, many search for a pill that will resolve it as quickly as possible.  This “quick-fix” strategy often comes at the price of dependency, addiction, and sometimes death.  The medications allow the people to abuse their bodies more than they normally would if there was less dependence on drugs. People are going away from living according to the laws of natural living, and exposing themselves to toxins. Our fast-paced society increases the reliance on fast foods, which are preservative-laden, artificially flavored and bereft of nutrients. Add to that the increased stress and lack of exercise, and you have a prescription for disease.

 

This modern stressful lifestyle itself should be looked at as a “sickness”.  As the body becomes ill, it is difficult to function normally in every day life.  Since people do not have the time to properly address their symptoms, it becomes much easier to just suppress them by taking a pill, giving the illusion of treating the underlying disease.

In general, there are three different classes of prescription medications that have the strongest addictive potential.  These classes are known as opioids, CNS depressants, and stimulants.  Opioids are often prescribed to treat pain, CNS depressants are taken to treat anxiety and sleep disorders, and stimulants treat narcolepsy and attention deficit disorder.  Of all the classes, opioids are the most addicting.  Long-term use of these drugs can lead to physical dependency.  The body adapts to the presence of the drug in the system, and reducing the drug can cause patients to go into withdrawal.  In many cases the same amount of drug, over time, creates tolerance, such that the dosage has to be increased to maintain the same effect. Due to this fact, many patients with chronic pain, anxiety and insomnia become addicted to these medications.

In addition, teenagers and young adults are taking prescription and over the counter medications for non-medical purposes.  A study conducted by The Partnership for a Drug-Free America showed that children as young as 12 years of age are trying prescription medications in a non-medical way.  There does not seem to be an end to the problem.

However, people are slowly starting to awaken to this issue of medicinal dependency.  Society is slowly moving towards the idea that taking a drug for every problem is not the solution.  With the number of deaths from prescription drug abuse increasing, more organizations are conducting studies for awareness to help those victimized by drug use and to prevent more cases from arising in the future.  Although realizing that there is a problem is the first step towards growth, it is merely the beginning.

Since when did the American dream of a family consist of husband, wife, two children and a cabinet full of medicine?  People need to realize that they have to change their lifestyle. They have to address what causes them to become sick in the first place. They need to stop and ask themselves these questions: What types of food are they consuming? Are they eating enough fruits and vegetables? Are they relying too much on caffeinated beverages to get their sugar and caffeine fix or they drinking fruit and vegetable juices? Are they counteracting the stress in their life by doing physical as well as relaxation exercises? If the answer to these and other similar questions is no, then it will become very hard to reverse the trend of drug-dependency and abuse.

People need to start making more efforts in getting educated about the laws of healthy living. Before reaching for a pill, people need to stop and think about why they need the drug in the first place. The doctors need to take a more proactive approach in preventing disease, rather than just reaching for the prescription pads for every symptom complaint.

The problem of drug-dependency is a very real and important, and sometimes fatal problem. Unless we take proactive steps to addressing this issue, it will continue to grow and spread like a malignant cancer. The longer we wait, the harder it is going to be.

 

Until Next Time                                                                                                                               Be Enlightened                                                                                                                     Ravinder Singh, MD

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How confident are you?

Greetings!

Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering. – Yoda

Recently, I did a half day seminar on Stress Mastery. One of the things we spent a lot of time on was how to overcome lack of confidence. Lack of confidence, or more accurately, fear, is what stops a lot of us from achieving what we want to achieve. Confidence and fear do not occupy the same space at the same time. Building confidence eradicates fear. In the absence of confidence, fear and worry assume control. One of the main reasons why people become stressed is this lack of confidence. And remember, we are discussing how to master stress. Building confidence is one of the essential elements of Stress Mastery.

So, how confident are you? Obviously, this depends on the type of activity you are involved in and how comfortable you are with that particular activity. For eg, if you play the piano, your confidence in playing the piano will depend on how much you have mastered that skill. In the beginning your confidence level is low. With practice, your confidence level grows so that you can even play the Beethoven sonata. So, a better question might be, how many things are you confident in? The more things you are confident in, the more self-confident you will become. Self confidence affects the level of satisfaction with your choices in life. But how do you know how confident you are? There is one simple way to assess that. And that is by answering these next few questions:

  1. How decisive are you?
  2. Do you like to try out new things?
  3. How do you react when things fall apart? Do you stay in control or do you fall apart as well?
  4. How do you respond to failure?
  5. How effective are you in handling small things?
  6. Is your personality more of a “will do” type or is it more of a “can’t do” type?

The answers to these questions may surprise you. They will give you an insight into who you are as a person. But more importantly, these answers will determine the level of negative stress you experience in your day-to-day life, as well as the level of success you can achieve. Facing stressful situations directly builds your self confidence, and the level of your success is directly proportional to the level of your self-confidence.

There is one other way in which you can assess your overall level of confidence. And that is by the way people interact with you. This is what I call social proof. Do other people trust and respect you? Do they hold your opinion in high regard? Do they look to you for guidance? When other people think that you are capable, that you are confident, also boosts the level of your self-confidence.

Confidence is a habit. And like any other habit, it needs to be cultivated. But how do you start cultivating this habit? How do we become more confident? In their book The Power of Focus, Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Les Hewitt delineate 6 confidence-building strategies. One of the strategies they mention is to push yourself to accomplish short-term goals. How effective are you in completing small, specific tasks? If you have low self-confidence, start by picking small tasks that are easy to accomplish and then complete them. Completing small tasks begins the process of building your confidence. The more success you have, the more successful you will become. One word of caution here though. Don’t just assume that the task is easy. In my experience, we tend to not even begin small tasks because they are “too” easy. We leave a lot of tasks unfinished. Unfinished tasks sap your energy and bring you down. Completing tasks frees your mind and energy to focus on more challenging tasks.

So, do you want to build your self-confidence? Let’s begin by making a list of tasks that you know you need to do but have been avoiding doing. Pick one of those tasks and tackle it. As the Nike commercial says, Just do it. Pick one that will be easy to complete. Feel the sense of accomplishment, no matter how small. As you complete more and more of these “easy” tasks, feel your self-confidence grow. As your self-confidence grows….well! Why don’t you tell me what you feel?

Until Next Time

Be Enlightened

Ravinder Singh, MD

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Where are you headed?

Greetings!

I know that most of you who have attended the seminar “3 Deadly mistakes even smart people make about stress that leave them exhausted, burnt-out & running on empty”, remember everything that we had discussed in the seminar and are applying it daily in your life. Right? OK, OK, I am just kidding. In fact, I’ll be surprised if you remember even 10% of what I covered in the seminar. That’s just simply how the brain works. We need to constantly be reminded of new information if it is to become memorable.

So, in this newsletter, I wanted to discuss one important point that we covered in the seminar. In fact, this was the 2nd deadliest mistake people make about stress. Do you remember what it was? Let me remind you in case you forgot.

The 2nd deadly mistake people make about stress is that think stress is all bad. In fact, stress is neither good nor bad. Hans Selye, the father of the stress field defined stress as a non-specific, physiological response of the body to meet the demands placed on it. So, stress is neither good nor bad. It is neither a positive nor a negative thing. All it is is energy; the energy to do anything. So, instead of focusing on stress, what you need to focus on is……

Satisfaction.

Whenever you are exerting energy, or stress, to do any activity, ask yourself, are you getting the satisfaction you want from exerting this energy? In other words, what is the amount of satisfaction you are getting from doing that particular task?

Remember ROI (Return on investment). It is       Satisfaction/Stress

I would love to hear from you as to whether you have started to apply the principles you learnt in the seminar in your life. I know it is difficult to change but you can also see that it does not require major changes to bring a significant change in the quality of your life.

If you are ready to really apply these principles in your life and to take Stress Mastery to the next level….

The best stress management technique is one that is tailored to your individual stress type.

In the Stress Mastery seminar, we go in much more detail about the specific stresstypes and then design specific action plans for each of you based upon your stresstype.

You will learn the 6 vital skills necessary for reducing your bad stress and achieving more satisfaction in your life…..in all aspects of your life.

 How does that sound?

If you have any interest in taking what you have learnt to the next level and develop a deeper understanding of stress, then I will be conducting a half-day seminar on Stress Mastery this coming Saturday, July, 20 starting at 11:30AM.

So, who is ready to achieve Stress Mastery?

How effective do YOU want to be as a person?

Are you going to go after your dreams, or just live in fantasy land?

If you don’t know what to do…..LEARN!

Knowledge is the key!

We can give you the tools to master your life and become successful at what you desire most.

THE CHOICE IS YOURS.

 Testimonials:

“I learnt how to focus on myself without guilt, and be confident in my decision-making.”

“I am more focused and really see myself where I am planning to be.”

“I loved the motivation segment. That alone was worth twice the price of admission…..I realized a key aspect of motivating myself…that will help me get the energy to change my life. I will set goals differently.”

“I was pleasantly surprised at how good the seminar was. I expected it to be just another stress seminar, and I went without expecting anything. I left with a new hope for my life, some excitement about my future, and couldn’t wait to get started.”

 

Be Enlightened

Ravinder Singh, MD

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