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Got stress?

If so, you might need to give your brain a timeout, experts say.

October 27, 2009|By Donna Huffaker Evans

Student loans are due. The credit card is maxed. The mortgage payment’s late.

And that’s just the mail, which is probably unread and heaped in a pile.

Then there’s the worry that you’ll be a casualty in the next round of layoffs, and what if those stock prices don’t climb back up?

These are stressful times, and stressful times call for meditative measures. To withstand today’s vexing economic climate, health professionals suggest that people take a mental timeout.

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“You’ve got to replenish your energy. Just calm yourself, meditate, whatever you call it, but be alone with positive thoughts,” said Katrina Miller, a doctor with Descanso Family Practice who sees patients at Glendale Adventist Medical Center.

Miller said this “repair process” is crucial to controlling stress, which can lead to depression and panic attacks. Physiological stress exacerbates preexisting conditions such as hypertension, which leads to increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Incessant worry can also lower people’s immune systems, she said, which makes them more susceptible to infections.

“Give yourself time to recalibrate. You can’t control everything that’s going on around you, but you can control how you react to things,” she said, noting positive thoughts and quiet places are key factors in de-stressing.

One way to meditate — a mental exercise focused on positive thoughts to gain a heightened level of spiritual awareness — is by walking the Labyrinth at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. The winding path, near the koi pond and the hospital’s newest tower, was created two years ago as a place for people to relax and break away from the tension and strain of their lives, said Mary Ann Madden, marketing coordinator for the hospital.

“It’s very serene,” she said, noting its popularity among visitors, hospital staff and even the general public. Another tranquil spot is Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge. Weekend coordinator Kapauhi Stibbard described the 120 acres as “restful,” and pointed out that many visitors come to get away from what’s bothering them.

Jane Daniels, Descanso’s group tour coordinator, added that one patron bought an annual membership pass because she was having an addition built onto her home and couldn’t handle the relentless hammering, drilling and other commotion.

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