Get a job that won’t make you sick

Get a job that won’t make you sick

by: Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit

Graduation herded thousands to the Philippine workforce. Local news claim at least a hundred thousand jobs are waiting. Fortunately, I had a mentor who told me to find myself, my purpose, and what job will make me happy first. He promised the good salary and benefits would follow.

Many research even link bad jobs and physical ailments. I don’t think there is really a bad job. Any job can be bad, no matter how high paying, if it is not making you happy. Some even warn that the wrong career could slowly kill you.

That’s why it is better for new graduates to give this much thought when looking for a job or building a career. When one waits too long, such as when one already has a family, a career shift takes a lot more courage as one faces the prospect of being unemployed or losing your shirt with a family depending on you.

Job to leave

The online home of Newsweekwww.thedailybeast.com, wrote that a study done by the Centre for Mental Health Research at Australian National University revealed that “people with jobs characterized by high demand, low control over decision making, high job insecurity, and an imbalance between expended effort and reward actually experienced poorer mental health than those who were jobless. In other words, people who can’t find a job have a healthier state of mind than those who are employed and feel overwhelmed, insecure, underpaid, and micromanaged.”

Still another study by scientists at University College London found a link between being denied a promotion and heart disease. They also noted higher blood pressure in those with stressful jobs.

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Recently, Forbes.com issued the top signs for you to leave your job.  These are, among others, losing your value to the company or not getting the recognition you deserve, being passed over for a promotion (especially when the one who advanced was your subordinate), being denied a merit increase, company focus on cost-cutting measures, too much downtime or no assignments coming your way, and worse, the job is making you physically ill!

“Developing chronic back problems, headaches, stomach pains or sleep issues may all signal a problem job. Equally telling are weekends spent dreading going into work, feeling completely drained at the end of each day or a sharp drop in productivity because you feel bored or unmotivated. If you are not learning new skills or being challenged, your dispassion will negatively affect your work — and you may soon be forced to leave,” they concluded.

While the new survey they featured is for the US, I am sure our stats are not far away. The online publication said 31% of employees surveyed are not satisfied with their jobs and as many as 74%, regardless of job satisfaction, will consider leaving if approached with another offer. Reasons cited for leaving include salary (57%), need for change (31%), career and advancement opportunities (29%), change of profession (22%) and concerns about the employer’s future (18%).

Job to love

WebMD.com recognized though that jobs may be hard to come by. Hence, they also recently posted tips on how to love your current job. “Finding professional happiness may have more to do with changing your attitude than changing your workplace,” they wrote.

Whenever the economy or your industry is unstable, leaving a job that you don’t like but has provided stability is extremely scary. That’s why, WebMD challenges us to tweak our attitude instead.

“Here’s the secret to living with a job you’re not loving: If you can’t change your job, change your attitude — and change it so much your job becomes engaging. Challenging.  Even pleasurable. The secret? Try turning your ruts into rituals, viewing them with appreciation and presence. Doing so can bring elements of comfort, connection, and community to your everyday routine,” they revealed.

They suggested creating “sacred moments that bring both meaning and order to your life.” Be aware of the daily repeated routines such as staring at nature (garden, trees, body of water) or art/architecture while going to work as these little acts must be giving you pleasure or contentment. Start meditation or early visits to church.

They also recommended cultivating connections or building a community. Be aware of people around you. Connect with them. Create friends. Start a new “family.” Also recognize opportunities at work to be creative. “By recognizing these opportunities for creativity and control in the midst of mundane, even tedious routines, we elevate our work experience from what we do for a paycheck to another venue in which to experience the delight of being alive,” WebMD reminded us.

According to them, “a recent Gallup poll reported that fewer than 27% of us are ‘truly engaged’ in our work. Getting engaged doesn’t mean your job is perfect. Getting engaged means becoming involved so that your work, warts and all, is not a source of unhappiness. And that entails an attitudinal shift, not a job transition.”

 

*The above post was publish under the author’s column “Well-Being” last April 16, 2013 in the Lifestyle section of the Philippine Star

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Joy keeps people young and healthy

Joy keeps people young and healthy

by: Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit

Dr. Christiane Northrup: “Life is meant to be joyous.’

The timing couldn’t be better, the Catholics had a new leader in Pope Francis last Easter! Many cast a lot of hope on the new pontiff as he is of many firsts. His humility and simplicity, among many admirable traits, inspire and attract many.   

After the Palm Sunday Mass, Pope Francis climbed his pope mobile to mingle and touch the hundreds of thousands who participated in the two-hour celebration.  The tight Vatican security has to adjust to the ways of this new charismatic pope. 

In his homily, Pope Francis said that in the triumphant welcome of Jesus into Jerusalem, “He awakened so many hopes in the heart, above all among humble, simple, poor, forgotten people, those who don’t matter in the eyes of the world.”

Since being elected by a conclave of cardinals last March 13, Pope Francis has placed the poor as the focal point of his mission, perhaps keeping up with his Jesuit roots. He is the first ever pope to name himself after St. Francis of Assisi, who gave up a privileged life for poverty and simplicity to preach the message of Jesus to the poor. 

He reminded us in his homily that Christian joy “isn’t born from possessing a lot of things but from having met” Jesus. He said that kind of joy should keep people young. “Even at 70, 80, the heart doesn’t age if one is inspired by Christian joy,” the 76-year-old pontiff said. 

Joy doesn’t only keep people young, it also makes them healthy. According to one of my favorite authors, Dr. Christiane Northrup, “When you move toward that which is most fulfilling and life-enhancing, with joy and pleasure, healing follows.”

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“Life is meant to be joyous! We are pleasure-seeking creatures by nature. Joy makes us younger, smarter, more intuitive and healthier — with better hormonal balance and immune system. Joy even positively affects our metabolism,” she added.

Dr. Northrup has a CD (sold by Amazon) where she provides a 10-step prescription for bringing joy into our lives every day. She shares a strategy to overcome habitual patterns of negative thinking, guilt, and pain to evoke the power of joy.

The Bible is also full of promises that the right spirit, one that joyfully shouts God’s love, can bring health and healing as expressed in the following quotes:

Spend your time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness. Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important for it promises a reward in both this life and the next. This is true and everyone should accept it. 1 Timothy 4:7-9

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29

A cheerful heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit makes one sick. Proverbs 17:22

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17

A man’s spirit sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear? Proverbs 18:14

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

 

*The above post was publish under the author’s column “Well-Being” last April 2, 2013 in the Lifestyle section of the Philippine Star

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Gratitude: The feel-great attitude

Gratitude: The feel-great attitude

by: Mylene  Mendoza-Dayrit

For two Sundays now, the gospel has been heralding the good news that our God is loving and merciful beyond reason. In the story of the prodigal son, the father welcomed the son who squandered his share of his father’s wealth. Unmindful of his son’s transgressions, he restored his dignity by giving him the finest robe, a ring, and a feast of fattened cow when all the prodigal son wanted was to be treated like one of his father’s laborers. Last Sunday, Jesus told the crowd to cast stone to the adulterous woman if they are free of sin. And when no one was left except her and Jesus, he said that neither does he condemn her and told her to sin no more.

Truly, there are so many things to be grateful for, starting with God’s great love for us. While it is my prayer that we enter Holy Week with hearts full of gratitude, there are also so many health reasons why we should always be thankful.

Shape.com wrote that appreciating what you already have might be the key to living a healthier, happier life.  They cited five reasons why. First, gratitude can boost your level of satisfaction. According to a research done by Steve Toepfer of Kent State University, you can increase your level of life satisfaction by simply writing a letter of gratitude. In a study, Toepfer asked subjects to write a meaningful letter of gratitude to anyone they wanted. The more letters they wrote, the less symptoms of depression they reported. They noted feeling happier and were more satisfied with life overall. Toepfer recommended writing letters of gratitude over 15 minutes three times a week to improve your well-being.

Second, gratitude can strengthen your relationship. In a 2010 study published in the journal Personal Relationships, they found that focusing on the positive actions of your partner helps one feel satisfied in your relationship. A few minutes daily of telling your partner a single thing you appreciate about them can go a long way towards strengthening your connection.

Third, gratitude can improve one’s mental health and vitality. A 2007 study by the University of California-Davis revealed that feeling grateful can positively influence one’s well-being and quality of life. A group of patients who were asked to list five things or people they were grateful for every day improved their mental health and well-being scores compared to patients who did not make a thank-you list. Having the latter can help you maintain a positive outlook and boost your energy.

Fourth, expressing gratitude can help you sleep better. Research in the University of Manchester England studied 400 subjects with 40% bothered by sleeping disorders. The study found that those who felt more grateful also reported more positive thoughts and feelings that allowed them to fall asleep faster. They also reported improved overall quality of sleep.

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Fifth, gratitude can help you stick with your workout routine. In the study of UCLA-Davis mentioned earlier, another benefit cited by the participants was their ability to stick to regular exercise.

Two psychologists in particular have done a lot of research on gratitude, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California-Davis and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami. In one study, they had three groups with different directives. One group wrote about things they were grateful for, another wrote about irritations or displeasures while a third group wrote about events regardless of whether positive or negative.  After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better since they exercised more.

Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack. One can develop the habit by doing the following on a regular basis:

• Write thank-you notes. Show your appreciation for the smallest gifts and gestures. Make a habit of sending at least one thank you letter a month. Or maybe thank you text messages?

• Think thank-you thoughts. Mental thank you will do when you don’t have the time to write. At least, you are acknowledging that someone was a blessing to you.

• Keep a gratitude diary. Make it a habit to jot the blessings you received that day. Some prayer diaries have spaces for a thank-you list.

• Take stock of your blessings weekly. A moment of your alone time every week can be spent reviewing three, five or seven people or events you are most grateful for.

• Pray. People who pray a lot know that proper prayer starts with praise and thanksgiving.

• Meditate. Instead of choosing a phrase to repeat why not focus on something or someone you are grateful for?

“Grateful people take better care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors like regular exercise, a healthy diet, regular physical examinations,” Emmons told WebMD. What’s more, an attitude of gratitude also helps bust stress. “Gratitude research is beginning to suggest that feelings of thankfulness have tremendous positive value in helping people cope with daily problems, especially stress,” Emmons concluded.

 

*The above post was publish under the author’s column “Well-Being” last March 19, 2013 in the Lifestyle section of the Philippine Star

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Pusong Pinoy

Pusong Pinoy

by: Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit

The heart of the Filipino or Pinoy is full, even if his pocket is empty. That’s what most of the teleseryes or TV soaps make us believe. Judging by the high ratings of today’s Pinoy soaps, most people can relate to the characters. The star of the soap is normally born poor, an underdog, but because of his/her kindness, labor, perseverance, and faith, he/she triumphs in the end. Success may not even be glory and money, but simply the fulfillment of having a complete family full of love and care.

Recently, several Gallup polls seem to back up this premise. The Philippines ranked number one or “world leader in love” in one of their studies. In a separate one, also by Gallup, the Philippines was ranked as the most emotional society in the world. The emotions must be more positive than negative, because the Pinoys are the fourth happiest people in the world (only two percent away from the top spot). It was no wonder then that more than 90% of Pinoys surveyed said that they would meet 2013 with hope rather than fear. The Pinoys also ranked 17th as the most generous people in the world, particularly in volunteerism.

Survey says …

Filipinos get the most love. This is the conclusion from a global love survey conducted by the Gallup Organization. The survey, which was conducted in 136 countries, asked the question: “Did you experience love for a lot of the day yesterday?”

In the Philippines, 93% of 2193 respondents said they experienced love the previous day. The global average is 70%. As reported in Philippine STAR by Sheila Crisostomo, Justin Wolfers, a Gallup senior scientist and a University of Michigan professor, clarified that love does not only refer to the romantic kind but could also refer to love of a child, a parent, family, or good friends.

Trailing the Philippines by only one percent was Rwanda at 92%, followed by Puerto Rico at 90% and Hungary at 89%.  Following Hungary  were Cyprus, and Trinidad and Tobago with 88%.  Paraguay had 87%, Lebanon, 86%, and Costa Rica and Cambodia had 85% each. In comparison, 81% of Americans experienced love the previous day.

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Country with the least love

The country with “the least widespread feeling of love” was Armenia with 29%.  Mongolia and Uzbekistan followed, with 32% each while Kyrgyzstan had 34%, Morocco, Belarus, and Georgia had 43% each.

Gallup, the US-based poll firm, asked these questions in a 2011 survey involving 148 countries: “Did you feel well-respected yesterday? Were you treated with respect all day yesterday? Did you laugh or smile a lot yesterday? Did you learn or do something interesting yesterday? Did you experience the following feelings during a lot of the day yesterday? How about enjoyment?”

They released the percentage of respondents who answered “yes” to these questions to get the 10 happiest countries in the world. While the Philippines did not top the list, we shared fourth place with Guatemala, with 82%. Top place went to Panama and Paraguay with 85%.

With a lot of love and happiness, it was not a surprise that a poll by Pulse Asia late last year revealed that 92% of Filipinos surveyed said they would welcome 2013 with hope rather than fear. This view is common across geographic areas (90 to 96%) and across socio-economic classes (89 to 96%) as reported by Helen Flores in this newspaper.

Filipinos ranked 17th as the most generous people in the world, according to a new study made by the UK-based Charities Aid Foundation (CAF). Pinoys devoted the most amount of time to charity work in Southeast Asia with 45% volunteering. According to the study, while the world has become a less generous place, the Philippines World Giving Index is higher by four percentage points compared to its five-year average.

Love more, live more

Another statistic that you must know by now is that about 25% of Pinoys die of cardiovascular disease. If we believe the statistics about Pinoys above, then if we just keep on loving, keep on being happy, and volunteering to make others feel better and happy, then we have the simple but effective way to improve our heart health.

Research says that love and good health are connected. Love is said to bring better health. In a 2007 issue of Human Communication Research, it was reported that merely writing affectionate feelings on paper could lower cholesterol levels. Those who wrote love notes in 20-minutes sessions three times a day had significantly lower cholesterol levels than those who don’t.

At the Heart Math Institute in California, they found that those who were taught exercises to love at will increased their production of DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone or the anti-aging hormone) by 50% after six months and 90% after nine months. DHEA is the hormone which produces feelings of youth and vitality.

Hugging is good for the heart

At the University of North Carolina, a study published in the July/August 2005 issue of Psychosomatic Medicine revealed that hugging has measurable benefits for the heart. Some 38 couples were asked to sit close to one another, talk, and then hug. Afterwards, women showed somewhat lower levels of cortisol and lower blood pressure, while both men and women had increased levels of oxytocin, the bonding hormone.

Happier people also have greater protection against things like heart disease and stroke, according to Andrew Steptoe, the British Heart Foundation professor of Psychology at University College London.

In the United States, a research suggested a possible link between happiness and long life. Nuns in Milwaukee who were studied were grouped into “happy nuns” and “not-so-happy nuns,” based on how joyful or gloomy their journal entries were.

While their living conditions are the same, their life expectancy was not. Of the gloomy nuns, two thirds died before their 85th birthday. In comparison, 90% of the happy nuns were still alive. On the average, happy nuns lived nine years longer than the gloomy ones.

*The above post was publish under the author’s column “Well-Being” last March 5, 2013 in the Lifestyle section of the Philippine Star

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Shaping-up tips from Miss Universe finalists

Shaping-up tips from Miss Universe finalists

by: Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit

Venus Raj: “To achieve a well-proportioned body, I did core and weight training with a personal trainer.”    

Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc. (BPCI), headed by Stella Marquez, herself a beauty queen, has produced world-class beauties including Miss Universe 1969 Gloria Diaz, 1970 Miss International Aurora Pijuan, Miss Universe 1973 Margie Moran, 1979 Miss International Melanie Marquez, and 2005 Miss International Precious Lara Quigaman.

The Bb. Pilipinas 2013 pageant had a larger-than-usual turnout of applicants.  More than a hundred are participating in three screening dates this February with the final screening on Feb. 16 at Gateway Suites.  This year is really special because Bb. Pilipinas is celebrating its 50th or golden year.

Three titles are up for grabs: Bb. Pilipinas-Universe 2013, Bb. Pilipinas-International 2013, and Bb. Pilipinas-Tourism 2013. Coronation night on April 14 will be shown live on ABS-CBN.

What makes this “50 Beautiful Years” celebration more meaningful is the successive victories of recent Bb. Pilipinas winners such as 2010 Miss Universe 4th runner-up Venus Raj, 2011 Miss Universe 3rd runner-up Shamcey Supsup, and 2012 Miss Universe 1st runner-up Janine Mari Tugonon.

In this season of pageants, we asked these gorgeous ladies for their fitness insights.

PHILIPPINE STAR: What is your most major fitness or health challenge ever? How did you handle or overcome it?

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JANINE TUGONON: I have to strictly lose weight and go on a diet for Miss Universe. I persevered with discipline, thinking of my responsibility to the Filipino people and wanting to win the crown for them.

SHAMCEY SUPSUP: I don’t exercise. I don’t like to eat protein. I love to eat rice. I had to change all these habits. I had to follow my trainer!

VENUS RAJ: I wanted to achieve a well-proportioned body, which is at par for international competitions. For this, I did core and weight training with a personal trainer.

How do you keep fit while traveling?

JANINE:  I follow a strict calorie diet of nutritious foods . . . and I resist tempting, “bad” foods (laughter).

SHAMCEY: I was given an exercise band by my trainer, and I always followed the exercise program he gave me in Brazil (venue of Ms. Universe 2011) and Colombia (training site prior to Ms. U).

VENUS: I do the exercise program that my trainer gave me and, of course, the diet they gave since I eat a lot.

How much time do you need to physically prepare for a competition or major project? What do you do?

JANINE: Three months. Strict diet, mainly fruits and vegetables, coupled with physical activities. Ballet, badminton, and weight training with a very patient trainer.

SHAMCEY: Preferably six months, especially for a person like me who is not active at all or does nothing but eat and sleep (laughter).  I have to strictly follow the diet and the exercise routine, and follow the instructions of my strict trainer.

VENUS: I need at least two to three months of strict training and eating the right foods.

“Muscled but feminine, va-va-voom body” is what kinesiologist and personal trainer John Cuay calls it.  “The standard now is to have a muscled but feminine look,” he clarifies. Even the most serious workout will fail without the proper nutrition, so John teamed up with nutritionist Cristy Marasigan.

Venus and Shamcey both have no gym experience. They are also both rice lovers. Janine, on the other hand, having joined Bb. the year before, was not a newbie in terms of diet and exercise programs. What these three beauty queens have in common though is their focus and commitment to do their best for their country.

While already physically gifted, each had unique physical weaknesses that John had to assess and improve.  He recommended a lot of cardio workouts or running three to five miles a week, especially in the morning. The program included weight training thrice a week and a session of Pilates weekly to strengthen the core and lengthen the muscles.  When they miss personal training, they join a definitions class that incorporates light weights and high repetitions.

In John’s mind, these women were winners even before they bagged their international titles because they had the discipline, determination, and proper mindset. They all wanted to win for the country, not just themselves.  John is extra proud of Shamcey, who gained about 10 pounds of pure muscle in the right places, including a six-pack abs. Janine prepared intensely and was in the gym most often. She developed her posture and proportion.

Cristy admires the commitment of Janine, Shamcey, and Venus to their eating plans. They were requested to eat rice sparingly and even replace it with salad or vegetables. Carbs came in the form of high-fiber cereals, root crops, and fresh fruits. Sugar was, of course, regulated as in no candy, no desserts. The most forbidden was actually starvation! They were not allowed to skip meals and were even encouraged to eat snacks or small meals every three hours. Healthy snacks included boiled sweet potatoes, fruits, whole wheat crackers, nuts, protein shake and the like. Hydration in the form of at least eight glasses of water was required. Other liquids, especially alcohol, were avoided.

Last but not the least, eight hours of beauty sleep daily was prescribed. As workout intensity was not only physically but mentally exhausting, sleep was the best time to recover and build. For John, it meant the difference between the program’s success and total burn-out.

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*The above post was publish under the author’s column “Well-Being” last February 12, 2013 in the Lifestyle section of the Philippine Star

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The healthy, healing benefits of forgiving

The healthy, healing benefits of forgiving

by: Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit

Les Miz: How many really recognized the emancipated Hugh Jackman as prisoner 24601 (Jean Valjean) whose petty crime was stealing bread for a dying niece?

The well-received feature on Greg Anderson’s inspiring story of how faith, forgiveness, and prayers allowed him to outlive a 30-day-to-live prediction 30 years ago when he was battling lung cancer was indeed a good prelude to how I enjoyed the big screen version of Les Miserables.

Here is a great story written 150 years ago about the French Revolution — 30 years before that — and the misery, evil, darkness, suffering and hopelessness that engulfed many. How many really recognized the emancipated Hugh Jackman as prisoner 24601 (Jean Valjean) whose petty crime was stealing bread for a dying niece? He was said to have refrained from drinking water for three days as well as undergone an extreme diet to lose so much weight for the initial scenes.

He even admitted in his acceptance speech that he almost gave up on the role and the movie. It was his wife who admonished him to persevere. His hard work earned him his very first Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy.  

Of the movie’s many themes, the most poignant is that of forgiveness and transformation. While under parole, Jean Valjean crossed paths with a generous bishop who fed him and allowed him to stay for the night. Hardened perhaps by his life in prison, Valjean tried to ran away with the bishop’s silver. The police apprehended him and brought him to the bishop with the loot.

Valjean told the police that the bishop gave him the silver. The bishop confirmed that he indeed gave the silver, and added that Valjean left a few more pieces. Valjean was confused

by the bishop’s goodness. When the police left, the bishop claimed that with the silver, he had purchased the convict’s soul. The bishop said he had given it to God, and from that day, Valjean must be a good man.

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This forgiveness transformed Valjean into a compassionate person who put others before himself. He showed forgiveness to his nemesis, police officer Javert, who in his relentless pursuit of Valjean, was captured by revolutionaries. As a reward for saving the lives of a few of these revolutionaries, Valjean asked permission to take Javert outside to kill him. Outside, Valjean released Javert.

Victor Hugo surely used Les Miserables to make people aware of the need for social reform, but it certainly speaks of virtues that remain timeless to this day. Central to the story was how Jean Valjean had a change of heart and evolved from a hardened ex-convict to a Christ-like benefactor when he allowed Jesus into his life. Reformed, Valjean tried to lessen the misery of others by putting their needs before his own.

The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) quoted Frederic Luskin, a Stanford researcher who studied the effects of forgiveness: “… the moment-to-moment experience of peace and understanding that occurs when an injured party’s suffering is reduced by the process of transforming a grievance they have held against an offending party.”

AMSA said that a 2001 study revealed a correlation between reviewing hurtful memories and measures of the stress response (EMG, heart rate, blood pressure). “When subjects were encouraged to think forgiving thoughts, the stress response was diminished. Similar findings were seen in an October 2003 study of 108 college students,” they added.

They claimed that several small studies have shown a number of potential health benefits conferred by forgiveness such as decreased anger and negative thoughts, decreased anxiety, reduced depression and grief, and decreased vulnerability to substance use.

Greg Anderson, the Cancer Conqueror, gives these healing prescriptions to one desperate patient:

Step 1:  Ask in prayer.  Declare what it is you want.  “I desire perfect health.”  Or, “I want to be pain-free.”  

Step 2:  Believe. Believe that what you seek is already yours.  Possess it by what Anderson calls the faith factor. Know that what you seek is on its way to you the moment you ask.   

When you first ask and then follow that with the deep belief that you now possess health and healing, joy and peace — or whatever it is that you seek — the entire Universe shifts to bring it into reality.  This is the Life Force in action.

Step 3:  Receive. Next, believe you have received.  Then feel happy and grateful. Live in those emotions. When you stir up those emotions, you are on the frequency of receiving.

 

*The above post was publish under the author’s column “Well-Being” last January 29, 2013 in the Lifestyle section of the Philippine Star

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Faith & healing in 2013

Faith & healing in 2013

by: Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit

Our family celebrates the new year with much love, inspiration, hope, health, healing, and stronger faith! Fellow STAR columnist and my sister-in-law Michelle Dayrit-Soliven who early last year was diagnosed with stage 3b breast cancer won her battle and inspires everyone with her very positive and cheerful attitude. Much has been written about this miracle in this newspaper and Michelle gives regular talks to inspire those battling the illness. She wholeheartedly embraced the condition and surrendered everything to God. Here is another great testament to how faith heals.

Greg Anderson was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer in 1984, and his surgeon predicted he only had 30 days to live. Now, he is on the way to being blessed with 30 years more after that death sentence. He has since started the Cancer Recovery Foundation, which provides inspiration, support, and resources to patients and their families (www.CancerRecovery.org).

Anderson is now recognized as one of America’s foremost healing authorities. He has written seven books, including the international bestseller The Cancer Conqueror. As he inspires millions with his story of healing, many also enrich him with their own testimonials.

“The stories of healing are always the most moving. They tend to fall into three groups. First are those who may not be completely cured of their illness but who learn to cope with illness through prayer and other forms of spiritual practice. For others, the faith/health connection may mean stopping the progression of an illness like cancer or heart disease. Still others experience the reversal or complete healing of their disease. It is impossible to predict or control the level of healing. But all typically result in a deep sense of inner peace. This almost always offers some degree of improvement and can be truly powerful,” he explained.

Anderson’s healing

CBN.com reported that Anderson simply could not stop coughing middle of 1984. After a battery of tests, His doctor discovered that he had lung cancer. He agreed to have his left lung removed and thought he was fine. Four months later, he had a lump on the base of his neck. The cancer spread to his lymph system. The surgeon decided that the cancer was too advanced, and there was nothing they could do. The surgeon said, “Greg, I don’t know how to tell you this, but the tiger is out of the cage. Your cancer has come roaring back. I would give you about 30 days to live.”

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“At that moment, Greg and his wife Linda prayed. People at their church began to pray. Greg says that prayer was always a part of his life; he believed intensified prayer was the answer and the key to unlock health and healing. But even during times of prayerful fervor, Greg says he failed to establish a constant and ever-deepening intimacy with God,” CBN.com said.

He deteriorated fast physically, and at one point was skin and bones at 112 pounds. “During these moments of self-pity, Greg would plunge into despair and hopelessness. Fear crowded his faith. The downward spiral engulfed him. Not knowing what to do, Greg instinctively prayed The Lord’s Prayer,” CBN.com continued.

Anderson told them in an interview, “I wondered about God’s silence. In some of those lonely moments, I would seriously question the existence of God and wondered about the depth and power of my faith.”

“Despite what he perceived as God’s silence, he simply continued to pray. Something in The Lord’s Prayer touched him and one morning, determined to find it in the Bible, he opened up to Matthew 6 and began reading. The next morning, Greg prayed the prayer again. He says it has been the central point of power in his recovery from his almost-certain death sentence from cancer. Since 1989, Greg’s medical records state that he is clinically free of any signs of cancer,” CBN.com reported.

“Greg says he hated his earthly father. Recollections of his youth were not pleasant because Greg’s father berated him constantly. As he grew older, Greg says he and his father seldom spoke. Later as a teen, Greg’s dad was committed to a mental hospital. In college, Greg went through psychological pain and depression. He found relief through alcohol. It was not until getting cancer 20 years later that Greg became aware of what he was doing to himself.”

His wife Linda helped him understand how he was blaming both his earthly father and heavenly Father. When he understood and accepted his father’s limited relationship abilities, change happened.

“Cancer opens many doors. One of the most important is your heart,” Anderson quipped.  “No big reconciliation took place. Yet the shift in my attitude brought about real change for me.”

Inspiring words

One just needs to browse his blog to feel a rush of hope and inspiration. Many also leave positive comments about his books and how they derive support and inspiration to conquer their illnesses as well.

Here is how he encourages a desperate woman with cancer:

Please . . . listen carefully.  I speak truth with love.  There is MUCH HOPE for you if you will open your heart to three thoughts:

1.  I have been in a similar situation.  I first “believed.” I determined that cancer was not a death sentence.  I also refused to believe my surgeon who, nearly 30 years ago, told me I had 30 days to live.  And I came to believe that I had the major part to play in my recovery.  So first, believe.

2.  Next I practiced “forgiveness.” I was holding all sorts of resentments and hostilities.  I forgave others and refused to live my life holding on to such toxic emotions for another moment.  I also forgave myself for not being perfect.  I came to live by the adage, “I’m not okay, you’re not okay, and it’s all okay!” Release.  Let go.  Forgive.  Freedom!!!

3.  Finally I decided to “live.” I didn’t know how long I had to live — I still don’t.  But I determined that I would pursue my passion every day.  The biggest change — I focused on be grateful, keep my thoughts on all the things I could be thankful for.  Not my problems but the things that are wonderful, miraculous, here — now!  What a difference.  That’s living with a new level of enthusiasm. 

My encouragement to you is to do likewise.  Find your own way to believe, forgive, and live.  That’s where hope is found.  That’s where healing begins.

Now, today — this moment — focus on something for which you are grateful.  Keep that thought in the very center of your consciousness.  Express your gratitude.  Watch how it changes your health and your life.

In the New Year dinner we just had, Michelle said that the minute she was diagnosed with cancer, she thanked the Lord that she was the one who had it because she knew she was strong enough to conquer it. That same attitude of gratitude has completely reversed the experience, not only for her but also the whole family, from one perhaps of sadness and despair to a lifetime of joy, happiness, faith, love, hope, and well-being!

 

*The above post was publish under the author’s column “Well-Being” last January 1, 2013 in the Lifestyle section of the Philippine Star

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Top tips to sleep better in 2013

Top tips to sleep better in 2013

 by: Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit

Mr. USA 2011 Tamer ElGuindy lamented that sleep is overlooked by so many people as a vital component of being well and healthy. I cannot agree more. With all the modern-day distractions like tech and gaming gadgets, social media, television, parties, and the Internet, I can’t make my children sleep enough or make them understand why it’s important. A situation that makes me sleep less as well. This new year, I resolve to erase my sleep debt. Why? Well, these new research findings about the benefits of sleep might also surprise you.

Sleep benefits a-plenty

David Rapoport, MD, director of the NYU sleep disorders program, reminds us that adequate sleep is crucial to a healthy lifestyle with positive benefits to your heart, mind, weight, and more. Such as improving your memory! During sleep, you consolidate memories or practice skills you have learned while awake. “If you are trying to learn something, whether it’s physical or mental, you learn it to a certain point with practice. But something happens while you sleep that makes you learn it better,” Dr. Rapoport adds.

One research links sleep of six or fewer hours a night to higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins which are linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and premature aging. Both too much and too little sleep were also associated by research to a shorter lifespan. A 2010 study of women, aged 50 to 79, confirmed more deaths in those who got less than five hours or more than six and a half hours per night.  Another 2010 study found that C-reactive protein, associated with heart attack risk, was higher in those who sleep six or fewer hours a night.

Research from Harvard University and Boston College found that people seem to strengthen the emotional components of memory during sleep, which may help increase creativity.  Stanford University also found that college football players who slept at least 10 hours a night for seven to eight weeks improved their average sprint time. They also had less daytime fatigue and more stamina. Similar results were observed previously in tennis players and swimmers.

Children (from 10 to 16 years old) with sleep disordered breathing, such as snoring, sleep apnea, and other types of interrupted breathing during sleep, are more likely to have problems with attention and learning, according to a 2010 study in the journal Sleep. Still another study revealed that college students who didn’t get enough sleep had worse grades than those who did.

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Dr. Rapoport clarifies that sleep-deprived kids react differently compared to adults. “Whereas adults get sleepy, kids tend to get hyperactive,” he says. “My son always thought he had ADHD, but he was recently diagnosed as sleep deprived due to sleep apnea.  Furthermore, a 2009 study in the journal Pediatrics found that children, ages seven and eight, who got less than about eight hours of sleep a night were more likely to be hyperactive, inattentive, and impulsive.

If your new year’s resolution involves dieting to lose weight, make sure that your plan includes sleeping enough. The University of Chicago in a research found that dieters who were well rested lost more fat, 56 percent of their weight loss, than those who were sleep deprived who lost more muscle mass.  Dieters who slept less also felt more hungry. “Sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same sectors of the brain,” notes Dr. Rapoport. “When you are sleepy, certain hormones go up in your blood, and those same hormones drive appetite.” The  association between health stress and sleep is as close. And both do affect cardiovascular health.

Less than five hours of sleep or more than nine hours a night may increase the likelihood of weight gain. In a study, recurrent sleep deprivation in men increased their preferences for high-calorie foods and their overall calorie intake. In another study, women who slept less than six hours a night or more than nine hours were found to gain 11 pounds compared to those who slept seven hours a night. Sleep duration appears to affect hormones that regulate hunger (ghrelin and leptin) and stimulate the appetite.

Sleep also affects your mood. Lack of sleep can make one irritable or depressed. Enough quality sleep can provide emotional stability. Dr. Rapport explains that you cannot just sleep more on weekends to cover up for the lack of it on weekdays. “If you sleep more on weekends, you simply aren’t sleeping enough in the week. It’s all about finding a balance,” he concludes.

Better sleep habits

While there are many reasons why people find it hard to sleep and rest the required number of hours for one’s age, experts from WebMd and Mayo Clinic seem to agree on suggestions regarding better sleep habits:

• A regular schedule. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day, including on weekends and holidays. Being consistent creates your body’s own sleep-wake cycle.  This helps promote better sleep at night.

• A bedtime ritual. Create your unique pre-sleep ritual. It could be a warm bath or shower, a relaxing massage or facial, meditation, reading a book or listening to music preferably with lights dimmed.  Each night, this activity, 10 to 60 minutes long, will tell your body it’s time to wind down. This ritual will ease the transition between wakefulness and drowsiness. Experts caution about the use of TV or electronic devices as they seem to interfere with sleep.

• Caution on food and drink. Don’t go to bed either full or hungry. The discomfort might keep you up. Don’t also drink too much before going to bed to prevent waking up to use the toilet. Nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol have stimulating effects that may make it hard for you to sleep. Don’t take caffeine four to six hours before your bedtime. Some foods though help promote sleep such as milk, tuna, pumpkin, artichokes, avocados, almonds, eggs, bok choy, peaches, walnuts, apricots, oats, asparagus, potatoes, buckwheat, and bananas.

• Create a comfort zone. Your room should be ideal for sleeping. Think something cool, dark, quiet. Choose the pillow and mattress most comfortable for you. The softness or hardness of a mattress and pillow are subjective.

• No long naps. If you like to take a nap at noon, keep it to 10 to 30 minutes only. Longer naps can interfere with nighttime rest.

• Exercise. Regular physical activity can make you sleep better. It can help you fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper sleep.  But if you exercise too close to bedtime, you might be too energized to fall asleep. If this seems to be the case, exercise earlier in the day.

• Zap stress. Too much work and too many thoughts will scare drowsiness away.

• Restore peace and balance in your life. Start with the basics. Get organized, set your priorities and delegate tasks. Share a good laugh. Jot down your thoughts and then set them aside for tomorrow.

Have a peaceful and restful New Year!

 

*The above post was publish under the author’s column “Well-Being” last January 1, 2013 in the Lifestyle section of the Philippine Star

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Top 10 tips to surviving the holidays

Top 10 tips to surviving the holidays

by: Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit

Karylle: “Eat whatever you want. But balance it with a good workout.”

We are scrambling into the finish line of last- minute holiday shopping.  What makes it more stressful, of course, is the worsening traffic and the longer queues at gift-wrapping and payment counters. When our stress levels are high, it’s easier to succumb to binging on the tempting Christmas party buffet spreads.

We cannot be Scrooges and just avoid all the socials. We have to learn how to balance everything, manage the stress, be in control, and enjoy the season.

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recently released their top 10 tips for surviving the holidays. If you follow the tips, you will increase your energy and reduce your stress not only this season but all year through.

1. Get some alone time. Take time for yourself. Although spending time with friends and family is essential, it’s also important to have at least five minutes to yourself to relax. Try practicing deep breathing exercise when you feel stressed out.

2. Move it! Don’t stop working out just because you don’t have the same amount of workout time as before. Don’t set unrealistic exercise goals. Aim to exercise 20 minutes a day instead of an hour. You’ll be sure to get at least 20 minutes of exercise per day without feeling disappointed if you do not complete an hour.

3. Take bonding walks. Enlist a friend or family member to exercise with you. Walking and talking with a friend can be a great way to burn extra calories and reduce your stress level.

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4. Shoot hoops. Create new, more active traditions. Instead of throwing a dessert or cocktail party, try skating or basketball as an alternate holiday event.  Dance, dance, dance.

5. Don’t diet this season. Don’t try to lose weight or stick to a restrictive diet this holiday season. If you enjoy your favorite foods in small portions, you’ll feel more satisfied. Trying to stay away from certain foods may leave you feeling deprived, which may cause you to eat more than you intended to.

6. Hydrate. Drink plenty of water. Although the cold weather may make you less inclined to grab a glass of water, it is just as important now as it is during summer. Water helps counter the dehydrating effects of travel or drinking alcoholic beverages, and it may also help satiate your appetite since thirst is often mistaken for hunger.

7. Take meal breaks.  Spread out meals. Don’t feel like you have to eat everything at once. Try eating dinner early and then taking a walk before sitting down for dessert.

8. Go easy on the caffeine. Don’t overdo it with alcohol or caffeine. These stimulants will only cause you more grief in the end by adding to your feelings of stress. Try drinking hot herbal tea instead of coffee, and keep the number of alcoholic drinks to a minimum.

9. Just enjoy. Don’t aim for perfection, and enjoy the imperfections. There is no such thing as the perfect party or the perfect decorations or the perfect way to spend the holidays. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by placing unrealistic demands on yourself.

10. Laugh. Laughing is a great tension reliever. It burns calories, reduces stress, and usually means that you’re enjoying yourself.

These are the top 10 tips of ACE (I just had to alter some to localize them). Luckily, Mr. USA 2011 Tamer “The Razor” ElGuindy was in town to give us his own holiday tips. Ten celebrity members gave their own advice as well.

“The first thing is to start your meal with a big salad. That’s full of fiber and it will satisfy you. Hopefully, it will help us eat less of the things we like that are full of calories. Then focus on protein after. Meats are much harder to convert into body fat than the carbohydrates. So really fill up your plates first with turkey, beef, and chicken, and watch the portion of your carbohydrates. Eating salad as well as focusing on high amounts of meat on your plate and reducing your carbohydrates are great ways to have a tasty holiday meal that’s low in carbohydrates and will not make you gain fat. Also watch the portion of your desserts, but hopefully, after the salad and a lot of meats, you won’t have the space to eat much of the dessert that you want,” Tamer suggested this strategy to limit your calorie intake.

“Another thing you should do is drink water while having your salad. This will make you full. You see, one makes bad decisions when one is hungry. Which brings us to another common problem. When people know they are attending a dinner party, they starve the whole day. That is not good. Still have your small meals within the day so that once you have the holiday meal, you do not binge and compensate for being starved the whole day,” he added.

“No matter how busy your holiday schedule is, you should find the time to work out. You find time to do what is important to you. When shopping, park farther and walk more. Or better yet, still go to the gym even if only for 30 minutes. You can also do stretching in the house, which can help you burn a lot of calories if done correctly. You can also do exercises using your body weight or some functional training,” Tamer recommended.

And when we asked about recovery through sleep, he said, “People underestimate most the need for enough sleep. A lot of research confirmed that you cannot burn body fat if you don’t sleep at least six to eight hours a day. If you do not sleep enough, you cannot build muscle and burn body fat. Enough sleep is not only important for you to be in the best shape, it is also important for your health. Strokes and heart attack have been linked to lack of sleep. Enough sleep also provides you the energy and right disposition to do your workout correctly,” he concluded.

Mr. World runner-up and Philippine Volcanoes’ Andrew Wolff said, “Just keep working out and if being fit is included in your New Year’s Resolution, make sure you keep it.”

Funny man and talented Mikey Bustos added, “Stay away from soda, watch the rice, and drink lots of water.”

TV host and actress Donita Rose, who is finishing a culinary course, chimed in, “Watch what you eat and do not forget to work out!” For her part, TV soap princess Jessie Mendiola who, like Donita, has one of the prettiest faces in showbiz, prescribed, “Eat healthy and balance it with a good workout.”

Singer and TV host Randy Santiago shared, “Eat with your mind. Watch what you eat.” Meanwhile, commercial model and actor Will Devaughn said, “Do not forget to go to the gym to balance what you eat.” 

December 2012 FHM cover girl Meg Imperial follows only one rule, “Avoid oily food!”

Singer, actress, athlete and host Karylle said, “Eat whatever you want. Do not limit yourself, but make it a point to balance it with a good workout.”

Heartthrob Sam Milby gave this hearty advice: “For people who are on a diet, have a cheat day. But train/work out more this season!”

Have a healthy holiday!

* * *

*The above post was publish under the author’s column “Well-Being” last December 18, 2012 in the Lifestyle section of the Philippine Star

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Top tips from Julia and Kathryn, TV’s primetime princesses

Top tips from Julia and Kathryn, TV’s primetime princesses

by: Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit

Julia Montes: “True beauty comes from being healthy so I try to work out whenever I have no taping.”

Premium talent agency Star Magic celebrated its 20th year of launching celebrities with events and magazine features.  It’s no wonder that their gorgeous talents grace the cover of most magazines these past few months. Noticeably, teen stars Julia Montes and Kathryn Bernardo dominated the covers.

The best of friends, who became stars with the success of their Mara Clara remake, are both less than 18 (Julia is 17 while Kathryn is 16) and yet they have countless magazine covers in their portfolio. In June of last year alone, the primetime duo was on three magazine covers including Chalk and Total Girl. This year, the audience has matured for the young teens as they were cover feature together with Bea Alonzo and Kim Chiu in the August 2012 Glamorous Girls issue of Metro.

While both shared the cover peg with Sam Pinto for Preview’s October issue last year, this year Julia Montes got the single honor as cover girl of the mag last August. Julia was also the cover of Meg last May, Sense & Style last September, and Cosmopolitan last October. She became Chalk’s cover last March with fellow soda endorser Joseph Marco.

Kathryn, on the other hand, went solo on Total Girl and Chalk this year. She is the November cover girl of Meg and Sense & Style. Last July, she was on the cover of Mega together with fellow Star Magic and primetime stars Xian Lim and Jessy Mendiola.

Both are among the busiest stars around, doing marathon shootings, pictorials, and constant travels to promote their projects. In interviews, Kathryn said she likes to go shopping for shoes when she is not busy while Julia said while she always wishes for a break once she has one, she gets bored and looks for the usual busy day.

While they are normally pitted against each other, both remain real friends off screen. Kathryn said that they have different audiences. While she normally plays her age as in the mega-hit teleserye Princess and I on ABS-CBN, Julia can portray more mature roles such as that of a battered wife of Nathan (Paulo Avelino) in Walang Hanggan. Julia (Katerina) eventually married childhood sweetheart Daniel played by Coco Martin (who is actually 15 years older than her).

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While both started as young commercial and TV stars, their stellar rise has been a short two years. Yet both have high-rating TV series and movies that come one after another. Despite their age, a lot of fans follow their Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts for beauty and styling tips. The two have remained grounded with Kathryn even saying that she is just an ordinary daughter at home who gets her share of chores and reprimands.

Kathryn and Julia have a commanding more-than-a-million followers on Twitter which is, of course, an easy platform for them to stay close to their fans. They both posted messages that give us a peek at who they really are (or at least their sentiments when they created their accounts).

Julia whose official Twitter is @montesjulia said, “My smile doesn’t always mean I’m happy, sometimes it only means I can manage  …  I’m just a simple girl trying to make it big in the world!” While Kathryn whose text canvas is @bernardokath said, “Be yourself and stay unique. Your imperfections make you beautiful, lovable and valuable. They show your personality.”

While they may project glamour and sophistication in their fashion and cover spreads that depict maturity way beyond their tender years, in the end they are just simple, fun-loving, and friendly girls who are talented and passionate about what they do.

We asked them a few questions during a recent photo shoot. Excerpts:

PHILIPPINE STAR: How often do you work out or exercise?

JULIA MONTES: I believe that true beauty comes from being healthy so I try to work out whenever I have no taping. I also go to a nearby gym while waiting to shoot my scenes.

Kathryn Bernardo: “It was just recently that I became active in the gym because I realized that I really needed it.”

KATHRYN BERNARDO: It was just recently that I became active in the gym because I realized that I really needed it. I usually go twice or thrice a week to keep fit and so that I’m not just thin and I get  into shape. I also do a little badminton and I like biking.

How do you eat right?

JULIA: You have to have the right eating habits, like I prefer to eat fruits and veggies. I try to avoid oily, greasy food. I dream of having a restaurant that offers delicious but healthy food where people are not mindful that they are eating healthy because the food is so delicious!

(Her spaghetti a la Julia shown on Kris TV created waves with a complete recipe available online, just search it.)

KATHRYN: I try to practice proper food intake — not too much or little and eating several small meals, instead of big ones, up to five times a day. Luckily, I can still eat what I want, but I try not to have so much sweets or chocolate.

So you’re really busy now, how much sleep do you get?

JULIA: I was always lacking sleep especially during the taping of Walang Hanggan, but it’s all worth it (referring to the dream house she just built and the salon business she gave her grandmother).

KATHRYN: Usually six hours. You’re supposed to get six to eight hours, right? So when there’s taping, I get at least six hours.

 

*The above post was publish under the author’s column “Well-Being” last December 4, 2012 in the Lifestyle section of the Philippine Star

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