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All too many times overwhelmed caregivers are physically and emotionally depleted and need to take time to rest and care for themselves. Believing in a holistic approach to caregiver stress and a strong commitment to helping our members find the right solutions, we created this blog to help you connect with others who, like you, may be facing the same eldercare issues and challenges. Feel free to comment, ask questions, and submit articles. Please forward the blog link to your family and friends. They'll be glad you did.

Warm regards,

Patricia Grace
founder & CEO
Aging with Grace

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why Swearing Eases Pain

by Dr. Vicki Rackner

It's almost involuntary. You slam your finger in the car door and out comes a colorful word. Even if you never, ever swear.

Swearing seems to be a universal response to pain, no matter what corner of the world you inhabit.

Why do we do this?

It may be a reflexive pain-reduction strategy like pulling your finger from a hot stove.

A group of scientists enlisted volunteers to submerge their hand in ice water while repeating either a neutral word or a swear word of their choice. students who swore kept their hands submerged longer and reported less pain that when they uttered a civil, neutral word.

The scientists speculated why. Your brain's speech center lies in the left side of your brain. words are generated in the amygdala--the emotional center on the right side of the brain involved with the fight-or-flight response. The fight-or-flight response seems to disrupt the connection between nerves that receive the pain signal and the nerves that interpret the experience. Blunted pain response would allow you to run away from a saber-tooth tiger who just released your calf muscles from its jaw.

So, next time your parents are in pain, encourage then to swear! Just think how much fun it will be to say to your parents with a smile, "Mom and Dad, you know how you always threatened to wash my mouth out with soap for saying naughty words? How things change!"

Vicki Rackner MD, founder of The Caregiver Club is a former surgeon who left the operating room to help family caregivers give their best and be their best by managing stress, speaking up with their loved ones’ doctors and asking the right questions. Dr. Vicki, as she has come to be known, is a speaker and author who is regularly quoted in the national media, including AARP, USA Today and NPR. Her most recent book is Caregiving without Regrets: 3 Steps to Avoid Burnout and Manage Disappointment, Guilt and Anger. You can reach her through at DrVicki@TheCaregiverClub.com or (425) 451-3777.

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