Life could be so much Just One Minute

Sunday 06 April, 2014 

I like to think of myself as a generally happy and contented man. There are, of course, little niggles and grumbles now and again – the God given right for a man of a certain age!

Getting grumpy about the doors being left open, the kettle always being empty and never having enough socks, is a right of passage!

My dear wife always tells me to keep things in perspective, and focus on the important stuff – but dammit socks are important.

Much as I hate to admit it though, she is right... at least about this.

There is a need to concentrate on what you can change, and what is important.

Having concerns about health, finance or your relationship with others does need your input. Doing something usually means changing your approach.

Committing to making such a change often seems like a lot of hard work, but it needn’t be. In fact, it requires just ONE minute.

And if you follow it through it could make a HUGE difference to your life.


Just take a look, and pick an idea

So, you will see that often the really simple solutions can make a huge difference to your life, well being and peace of mind.

Simple changes for a more positive life

On Friday I talked about how lack of sleep can cause stress... and how that stress is linked to a range of health problems.

Hopefully you tried out at least one of my remedies for a good night's sleep... if not, give them a go.

In the past I have also talked about how happiness could protect you from serious disease.

I wrote that studies have found that a generally positive outlook on life could reduce the chance of breast cancer by a quarter....while the stress of divorce of a family death lifted that cancer risk by more than 60%.

So stress = bad. There's no doubt about that.

After both of those Good Life Letters, I got a lot of emails from people (thanks for these!) explaining that staying stress free is getting harder and harder these days...

And I totally understand...

High fuel costs, soaring fuel bills, flat lining savings returns, rising food prices, falling incomes in real terms....

These aren't making for a happy Britain. All the above can play havoc with your stress levels and ultimately threaten your health.

Really, it's a serious problem. You don't see much written about the health consequences of financial pressures in the papers.... but as a Good Life Letter reader, you know that your mental happiness dictates how well your immune system works.

According to Dr Derek Cox, Director of Public Health in Scotland:

'If you are happy you are likely in the future to have less in the way of physical illness than those who are unhappy'.

Andrew Steptoe, the British Heart Foundation Professor of Psychology also believes that the happier you are, the more your body is able to fend off heart disease and stroke.

'We know that stress, which has bad effects on biology, leads to those bad changes as far as health is concerned. What we think is happening is that happiness has the opposite effect and has a protective effect on these same biological pathways'.

This all adds up to one conclusion...

You need to take control and make positive changes to your life – find out how here

Just one example of how stress can affect your health...

The other day my friend Geoff leant back in his chair, patted his considerable stomach and said 'this is all down to too much stress'.

I couldn't help laughing. I reminded him how he enjoyed his food, not to mention the odd pint, and asked him when was the last time he'd seen the inside of the gym.

I was surprised by his answer.

Since Christmas he's cut out the drink and snacking. He eats relatively healthy, and he leaves the car at home and walks near enough everywhere.

“And I haven't lost a pound!” he moaned.

Of course, some people find it harder to lose weight than others due to metabolism, and due to mistaking bad foods for good. I'm going to get to this point in a moment.

But Geoff is convinced that stress is helping him pile on the pounds. And it seems he may have a point...

Now, I've always thought that, if anything, stress made you LOSE weight. I seem to remember cartoons of rake thin men still working at their desks at midnight, wasting away to nothing, gaunt and under pressure.

But it seems this image could be totally wrong - that stress really does contribute to weight gain. And as he's right, I owe Geoff a pint (or an orange juice).

I have discovered that when you're stressed, adrenaline pours into your system, sending a warning to your body that it's under attack.

This adrenaline causes fat cells to pump fatty acids into your bloodstream to give you extra emergency stores of energy.

It's one of the ways evolution kept us safe from Sabre Tooth Tigers and spear-wielding rivals. It helped us run, or fight, or scramble up a tree.

This may have been fine in prehistoric times. But these days, tigers are thin on the ground.

Stress is now triggered by hectic schedules, heavy workloads, money worries, illness and family crises. In these cases, adrenaline produces the same fatty acids...

...But you don't burn them off in a fight or a sudden 5-mile sprint.

Instead you're sat at your desk with a report to finish by Friday, or on the M25 in a traffic jam, banging your head against steering wheel.

Then, while the fat hangs around in your bloodstream ready for a non-existent fight, along comes a hormone to dump it all in your belly!

The culprit is Cortisol - a hormone that's produced to help your body process the fat released by adrenaline.
This could be the reason why fat's sticking to your tummy like glue.

Cortisol mops up the unused fatty deposits (and that's pretty much all of them when you're sat on the sofa worrying over bills), and then packs them all away in your abdomen.

Not only is cortisol linked with fat, but also diabetes, heart disease and depression. This means that there's a chance that your health could be under threat every time you feel overworked or frazzled.

Discover how to make simple changes that will directly affect your life – click here

Yours, as always

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