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The ABED Method™ - Managing Stress for Busy People

by Michael A Clark(more info)

listed in stress, originally published in issue 201 - December 2012

According to much research, anywhere from 75%-90% of all modern day illnesses have their roots firmly in stress. Stress is also the number one reason giving for staff absenteeism. If this is true then if we want to stay healthy it is of paramount importance that we address the issues of stress for both employee and employer.[1]

Nowadays with massive redundancies, rising food prices, terrorism and so much uncertainty, stress is at a real high, and it may well get a lot worse before it gets better. Yet for many people they have no real idea of how to manage stress better in their lives. Most of us know about stress, but to actually define it is difficult.

ABED logo

A good analogy of stress is if you imagine your mind is a bridge and your bridge can handle normal traffic no problem, but if there are unusual circumstances like it been very windy (you feel ill) and this is combined with an extra traffic burden of lorries (extra workload). The cables (your emotions/nerves) become stretched; if the load carries on with the strong winds then the extra strain can cause something to snap.

Now in every-day life, the bridge would be closed for repairs, but for humans unless the person is normally bed ridden they will feel obliged to keep on working under more and more strain until the pressure finds the weakest linked whether that be cancer, the heart giving up, a stroke, or maybe something less like a migraine or asthma attack, but it forces the person to rest.

Having been a stress management consultant for over 20 years, I have concluded that almost all modern day conditions including asthma, heart disease, obesity and even diabetes are all rooted heavily by stress.[2] According to statistics, stress is responsible for almost all modern illness; it is not only the emotional/psychological stress, but also physiological factors.

“Over the last 20 years as a stress management consultant I have seen the typical ways people cope with feeling stressed and that is often with unhealthy food choices, alcohol, drugs both prescription & otherwise, just think When the last time you felt stressed and went straight to the fridge and started chomping on a carrot?”

Many of us do not realize that eating high sugar type foods actually make us much more stressed in the long run and much less well equipped to handle the causes of stress.[3]

For many of us the nearest most of us get a piece of vegetable if we are feeling stressed would be carrot cake; the body’s response to poor food choices ironically adds more stress to the already stressed out bodily system. When stressed, the body prepares itself by ensuring that enough sugar or energy is readily available. Insulin levels fall, glucagon and epinephrine (adrenaline) levels rise and more glucose is released from the liver. But when we are feeling stressed as already mentioned then we are more likely to choose high sugar type foods which add and compound the problem.

The ABED Method health protection Programme™ is designed to help protect people from the harmful effects of stress by protecting both the mind and body against what often is form of self harm through unhealthy food choices and poor stress management methods. It relies on what is described as ACT.™ - Active Client Treatment.

The ABED method™ begins by inviting the client to look at their own Attitude toward their health and understanding and accepting that their health is first and foremost no one else’s responsibility to look after but theirs alone.

Whether a client’s goal is to help with weight management, asthma or just general health and well being, the very first thing to do is a complete initial assessment. This would include of course asking the client why they want to lose weight, but also includes an ‘Individual Emotional Stress Test’. This is because stress plays such a huge role either directly or indirectly that to ignore it would be foolish. The stress test takes a around 10 minutes and the results are almost instantaneous.

Then follows a discussion about what the client feels might be causing emotional and psychological stress in their lives, so that they can begin to separate the stresses into different categories. For example, the stress of working at a job you do not like is different to the stress caused by something like debts you may be ignoring. So the categories are stress that can be dealt with quickly as opposed to those that needs longer to sort out.

 

Image of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Image of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Are Your Needs Truly Being Met?

Often a large cause of stress is based upon our belief system that we are intrinsically just not good enough; we must ‘do’ something to be recognized and strive to better than our peers, but at what cost to our health?

We are taught from an early age how the world works, and how our role is in that world. We are taught we have the freedom to be whoever we want to be. But that freedom is at a price; for many people it is all they ever think about, earning more and more money, or the thought of money, or the thought of the next dress or for some the thought of where the money to pay the next bill is coming from; money is the false prophet (profit).

For instance more families than ever before have both parents working full time often this means a bigger house and a newer car, but in reality and ultimately is it a new car you really want or do you really want to be happy?

By helping the client separate the causes of stress in their lives into those that the client can effect with immediate action to those that may take longer to those over which they have no control, for instance a loved one who has a drink or drug problem.

Clients are also encouraged to use proven stress busting methods such as listening to calming music in the car and not the radio. He also might recommend listening to the 20 Minutes ABED Mind Spa™ ABED Fitness and Relaxation Yoga™. This yoga audio is not religious nor does it involve any ridiculous stretches; it is based upon the theory that emotional pain can contribute toward physical pain; therefore by releasing physical pain you can also help relieve emotional pain. The ABED Yoga™ easy to use, the audio is excellent for this and research does seem to back up this claim.[4]

Setting boundaries is important, clients are encouraged to really view their home as their castle, as a bastion away from the madness of the outside world, a place where the family can feel safe. This includes self imposed boundaries on when work is finished and is left and the home is made as a haven of peace.

The healing power of love and family is not to be underestimated in effective stress management. (see number 3 on Maslow’s  Hierarchy of Needs)

When attitude assessment is completed,  the 2nd Stage of the ABED Method™ commences which is breathing.  I am a classically trained Buteyko Breathing Specialist; the only UK Professional Stress Management Specialist who also trained at the Buteyko Natural Breathing Clinic in Moscow, having received personal instruction from the late Professor Buteyko in person.

Breathing

When you consider that there are over 5 million adults in the UK and 1 in 3 adults in the UK have higher than optimum blood pressure, if by just relaxing the breathing and reducing tension can have such positive effects and all without the aid of expensive drugs, then especially taking into account today’s tough economic climate this has to be something to be looked at more closely.

Graph showing how breathing rate can positively affect Blood Pressure

Graph showing how breathing rate can positively affect Blood Pressure

The Breathing Normalization principle is that by normalizing the breathing the body chemistry allows healing to begin. The retraining involves nasal breathing, abdominal breathing (apparently this helps facilitate the switching off of the stress response), reducing the volume of breathing especially when at rest, say whilst at work (apparently may of us over breathe unknowingly due to the brain perceiving threats of ‘deadlines’, but the body experiences this as a physical threat which leads to an increase of breathing, which in the long term can be detrimental to health.[7]

We can now talk about the ‘E’ in the ABED Method™ which stands for Exercise. According to research we are on average between 3-5 times less physically active then we were 50 years ago yet the percentage of high sugar, high fat processed foods has increased dramatically. This combination of low physical activity, combined with the increased consumption of high sugar high fat foods is a major reason why obesity and diabetes are set to explode to epidemic levels in the next 3-5 years.

Things could be dramatically different if more people realized that how little exercise they had to do to lose weight and become healthy; in fact as little as 60 minutes per week could be enough as long as you followed a certain exercise regime and principle. In the author’s recent book The Art of Exercise™ Michael explains that by far and away the number one reason people give for not taking enough exercise is the simple fact they do not have the time.[5] The research suggests that physical fitness training leads to improved mood, self-concept, and work behaviour.

This is not a problem with ABED Method™ Exercise. The exercises in this programme are based upon the same principles covered by a UK programme by the documentary programme Horizon shown on BBC television earlier this year.

Clients are encouraged to invest in a simple heart rate monitor for their home use, and they are encouraged to exercise 3 times per week. The beauty of the ABED Method™ exercise programme is that all of the exercises can be done in the client’s home, they can be done in a gym but this is not a requirement. This has to be a significant advantage to many exercises that require gyms, because again if we go back to the first point as to why people do not exercise is because they do not have the time.

The exercises in his programme use a special scientifically proven technique called ‘High Intensity Variable Training’ which can be as much as 6 times as effective as normal basic cardio exercise such as jogging. This is also much healthier because there is much less impact on the joints.[8]

Finally we cover ‘D’ for diet; the vast majority of people in the UK have no real idea of how much stress they are loading onto their bodies by including such a high percentage of poor quality refined processed foods in their diet. This is another form of ‘stress’ but physical stress on the body. An example would be the damaging effect on the west by the vast amounts of white bread, pasta and rice that is consumed as opposed to brown. In fact, just by changing to brown you can cut diabetes by up to 70% by reducing the stress on the pancreas because brown rice, bread and pasta takes longer to turn to sugar in the body and so do not create the same spike or sugar load as the white far less nutritious choices.[9]

Michael has recently come across cases where 100% of foods in some people’s diets are actually processed! (Cooking is also included as process this means that only raw food such as fruit and salads basically what he describes as ‘live’ food.) Eating live food is of particular benefit for stress reduction due to the prevalence of enzymes, which are in all foods in their natural uncooked state and are required for us to utilize the nutrients from food. Enzymes are completely destroyed during cooking, and this means that in order for us to obtain the nutrients the body has to make its own nutrients from its own resources. The only way to do this is by actually breaking down parts of our own organs!

We are born with a natural reserve of enzymes; the older we get the lower enzyme count we have in the blood and urine. So the greater the percentage of cooked food in our diets the quicker we age![6]

The ABED Method™ also adheres strongly to benefits of correct food combining. There are sound physiological reasons for eating foods in compatible combinations. In other words, some foods, if mixed in the digestive system, will cause distress! The following explanation is taken from the expert Natural Hygienist Dr Herbert M Shelton.

The principles of food combining are dictated by digestive chemistry. Different foods are digested differently...

  • Starchy foods like potatoes, pasta and bread require an alkaline digestive medium which is supplied initially in the mouth by the enzyme ptyalin;
  • Protein foods require an acid medium for digestion- hydrochloric acid.

As any student of chemistry will assure you, acids and bases (alkalis) neutralize each other. If you eat a starch with a protein, digestion is impaired or completely arrested![10] The undigested food mass can cause various kinds of digestive disorders. Undigested food becomes soil for bacteria which ferment and decompose this food. Its by-products are poisonous, one of which, alcohol, is a narcotic that destroys or inhibits nerve function.

It plays havoc with nerves of the digestive tract, suspending their vital action such that constipation may well be a result! There are 9 simple rules to help with digestion, weight management and health. These are all explained and covered in the ABED Method™ healthy eating programme.

The ABED Method Diet™ is not a diet as in the normal losing weight short term kind of diet, but instead a healthy eating plan for life. Michael calls is the 80-20 plan: people may eat 80% healthily, including whole foods, quality meat and fish (not processed meats) and 20% they can let themselves go. Interestingly, many clients report after only a few weeks on the programme that the old cravings for sweet stuff are not as intense.

abed-Book covers

References

1.         Louise Peacock. Stress-overtakes-cancer-as-main-cause-of-sickness-absence. Available: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/jobs/8806473/Stress-overtakes-cancer-as-main-cause-of-sickness-absence.html  . Last accessed 10/02/12. 2011.

2.         Louise Chang MD. 10-fixable-stress-related-health-problems. Available: http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/features/10-fixable-stress-related-health-problems . Last accessed 10/10/11. 2011.

3.         Kristina Heritage. study-links-sugar-intake-to-stress-. Available: http://www.usforacle.com/study-links-sugar-intake-to-stress-1.2144586#.UHV75i7A-69 . Last accessed 10/10/12. 2010.

4.         Gina Orlando. Researchers Find Yoga Helps Ease Stress Related Medical and Psychological Conditions. Available: http://www.bu.edu/news/2012/03/07/researchers-find-yoga-helps-ease-stress-related-medical-and-psychological-conditions/ . Last accessed 08/10/10. 2012.

5.         Michael A Clark  The Art of Exercise. Kingston Upon Hull: The Well Naturally Publishing House. 27-31. 2011.

6.         Michael A Clark  The Art of Diet. Kingston Upon Hull: The Well Naturally Publishing House. 106-111. 2011.

7.         Michael A Clark  The Art of Breathing. Kingston Upon Hull: The Well Naturally Publishing House. 105-112. 2011.

8.         Michael A Clark  The Art of Exercise. Kingston Upon Hull: The Well Naturally Publishing House. 68-72. 2011.

9.         G Yang Department of Medicine. Prospective study of dietary carbohydrates, glycemic index, glycemic load, and incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus in middle-aged Chinese women. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.  167(21) (3), 27-32. 2007.

10.       Michael A Clark  The Art of Diet. Kingston Upon Hull: The Well Naturally Publishing House. 68-72. 2011.

Further Information

The ABED Method™ complete health consultation including bespoke treatment either over the phone or via Skype normally lasts about 90 minutes, then within 48 hours the client receives his complete bespoke stress management programme. The cost for this starts from just £145 plus VAT and this currently includes a special offer of the complete ABED Stress Management Programme™ of the 4 ABED TM health books & 4 special stress busting audios. The ACT system is a very effective way for companies who would like to take a more active role in stress management. For more details please contact wellnaturally@abedmethod.com   www.abedmethod.com

Comments:

  1. Paul Anderson said..

    All makes sense to me, I should know as I've suffered from stress myself. I find exercise is the key for me, along with writing everything down. Ie get it out my head and in the diary. Alchol is certainly not the answer, but ok if used in moderation, like most things.
    Good luck with this Mike. Regards Paul


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About Michael A Clark

Michael A Clark Dip Official Buteyko is the head of The Well Natural Health Clinic. He is also the executive director of The Well Naturally Health Company established in 1991. He helps clients from all over the UK with a range of issues but specializes in four key areas: Natural Healthy Permanent Weight Loss, Asthma treatment, Diabetes II and Stress Management.

He holds full qualifications in Effective Stress Management, Buteyko Breathing Therapy (One of Only two Buteyko Therapists from the UK who was classically trained at the Buteyko Clinic Of Excellence in Moscow) Diet, Nutrition, Self Reliant Exercise, Counselling, & hypnosis. He is also the head of The Well Naturally Health Foundation that aims to offer free Buteyko treatment for all asthmatic children in the UK. Michael has designed the ABED MethodTM  to be flexible enough to be used  for individual clients as well as for groups and could be adapted just as well for children’s health as well as staff health protection on a corporate level.

Now that the ABED MethodTMhas finally been recognized as a useful model for inspiring others to take care of their own health, Michael is offering to train others to become ABED A.C.T. Practitioners TM, covering areas of health including Asthma, Diabetes II, Stress Management & Weight Problems. Michael describes himself as a Healthy Lifestyle Coach. With what he sees as a revolution that is set to start in April 2013 when UK GPs become fundholders, Michael sees the future of health care moving very much in the field of prevention through education. For this reason alone Michael sees the demand for healthy lifestyle coaches rising significantly. If you are interested in training as an ABED ACT Healthy lifestyle Coach then for more information including a free prospectus and for more details on upcoming training courses please contact Michael on Tel: 01482 342100wellnaturally@abedmethod.com    www.abedmethod.com

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