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Triumph of The Mind Over Body When Stress Comes

Hard to imagine professions more stressful than being a firefighter. But what about the emotional toll stress can take on a man who fights fires for a living then on the homefront as a caregiver for his spouse, a 59-year-old wife with Alzheimer's? This superstar has managed to stay calm amid all the stress by doing some very simple, healthy things. If you read this blog often, you'll find they have a very familiar ring to them:

This fireman's approach to fighting stress -- mirroring my own philosophies -- could protect him from a raft of physical ailments that sicken many Americans annually. If you question that mind-body link to illness, even the Centers for Disease Control has said as many as 90 percent of the visits to the doctor may come as the result of a stress-related illness.

The article, featured in this morning's USA Today (one of my favorite newspapers in the world), also delves into the cellular damage stress can do to speed the aging process based on a study of mothers caring for seriously sick kids. Simply put, the longer women cared for their sick children, the shorter the ends of their chromosomes (called telomeres) were. When these telomeres get too short, bodily damage kicks in, cells die and the body ages at a much faster clip. In fact, scientists found the most stressed women in the study lost as many telomeres over a far shorter time -- over the course of their study -- as one would expect to find naturally after a decade.

No wonder there's a growing body of evidence that's discovered how one handles stress and depression can literally rewire your brain. Luckily, there are safe and healthy tools at your disposal -- that don't take the toll on your body toxic drugs do -- you can use to fight stress and slow down the aging process:

USA Today March 22, 2005

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