The formula for health and level heads

Emily Pfaff and Emily Pfaff

By Emily Pfaff
City Times

“When life hands you lemons, make lemonade!”

As old-fashioned and bittersweet as the beverage itself, this ever-popular turn of phrase might actually come in handy.

Sure, life’s obstacles aren’t always so easily overcome, but knowing how to keep your cool in high stress situations is essential to succeeding.

More and more research is being done on the tie between our mental and physical being. It turns out those metaphysical nerds and old dudes doing Tai Chi at the park weren’t so far off the mark.

Studies done at Duke University Medical Center and the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have revealed that chemicals in the brain link our memories with our bodies’ muscle.

This chemical connection might further explain why those suffering from Major Depressive Disorder become inactive and inherently more depressed, or are inactive and inherently depressed.

However, it is important to know that this does NOT apply to all forms of depression.

Manic Depression is a lifelong illness requiring professional medical treatment and cannot accurately be managed with simple diet and exercise.

The neuromuscular junction, a busy intersection where neurons from our brain connect with our skeletal muscles using acetylcholine, the primary chemical neurotransmitter for memory and attention is the underlying connection between our mental and physical.

A study led by Dr. Jeff W. Lichtman of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, reveals that muscle fiber contains special receptor proteins to hold acetylcholine in place.

When our bodies become inactive these receptors dissipate. The cool part is that our bodies can replace these lost receptors when regular physical activity resumes.

“Muscle activity is a cue to keep a synapse stable, and synaptic inactivity is a cue to disassemble a synapse,” says Lichtman.

Since exercise is essential to overall health, it seems odd to find it is something seriously lacking in American political policy.

Since exercise is essential to overall health, it seems odd to find it is something seriously lacking in American political policy.

The Bush administration continues to propose further budget cuts in public programs, most importantly education for all students, especially those in a lower income bracket and disabled students.

2006-2007 saw a proposed cut of $4.3 billion and 2008’s budget calls for even more, despite a proposed increase in funding for Pell Grants.

President Bush has made it clear since his first cuts in 2001, that the National Armory and Manifest Destiny are more worthy of American tax dollars than the quality of life for our children.

Currently, Illinois is the only state that requires students to attend physical education classes once a day through 12th grade, and perhaps they’re the only state that can afford it.

College students across America are often forced to choose between their health, available money and deadlines.

Whether it is rent, jobs, car insurance, or that essay due tomorrow, it’s important to remember that our personal health is essential to our success.

It is necessary that we take the time to keep things in perspective and stay motivated.

The recipe for lemonade isn’t just found in your grandmothers’ cookbook, it’s something you have to learn for yourself. So, before you chuck citrus at that happy go lucky guy in the corner, take a deep breath and appreciate the good advice.

Tips and Tools for Staying Cool

Get involved in an activity you enjoy: City College offers an assortment of different courses like dance and yoga classes, basketball and photography to keep your whole self active.

Breathe deeply: Practice breathing through the nose, expanding the stomach and allowing air to flow deep into the diaphragm and lungs. This improves the flow of oxygenated blood to the brain, relieving tension and promoting clarity of thought.

Take your time: Too often we rush things, slow down, plan ahead and take the time you need to accomplish your tasks.

Write. Whether you blog or keep a journal, it’s important to record your thoughts. This can provide you with a better perspective on how to deal with stress, and life in general.

Remember who you are: It’s easy to get caught up in the outside influence of immature dramatics, popular culture and relationships. If you stay conscience of your own personal needs and satisfy those first, you’ll be a happier person because of it.

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Emily Pfaff is a City Times staff writer