Are You Winning The Stress Battle?
|By: Eileen Silva | Mar 7 2007 | 744 words | 253 hits|
Traffic! High prices! Unemployment! Terrorists! Stress! Stress! Stress! Battling stress is a common problem in America today. It affects rich and poor, young and old, alike. How well do you recognize this enemy's effects? Have you prepared good battle plans?
I'm sure you recognize that people who suffer from headaches, chest pain, pounding heart, high blood pressure, clenched jaws, angry outbursts, and grinding teeth have unhealthy amounts of stress in their lives, but there are other symptoms that you might not so readily associate with stress. For example, would you think of stress if you experienced forgetfulness, insomnia, tight and sore muscles, hyperventilation or shallow breathing, fatigue, constipation or diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, hives, decreased sex drive, binge eating, depression, or loss of appetite? Yet, all of these are possible results of the effects of stress on the human body, mind, and emotions.
With these reactions, and many more unhealthy and traumatic results on your daily life, stress is indeed an enemy to battle. I suggest that you battle it on two main fronts: the Pre-stress Front and the Post-Stress Front. First, take steps to avoid stress as much as possible. Then, learn to recognize stress when it happens and to minimize its effect on your body.
While you cannot avoid all instance of stress, you can prevent some attacks by adopting the "regular habits" approach to life. Whenever possible, create regular habits for yourself like regular wake and sleep hours, mealtimes, exercising schedules, work and play schedules, dietary habits, housekeeping habits, and health maintenance. In addition, avoid sweets, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, overtime, and self-doubt or self-condemnation. Realize that any change in your routine or lifestyle creates stress, even if that change is a pleasant or planned one. Even happenings in our friends and loved ones' lives affect our stress levels.
Balance is a key word in reducing stress. Spend healthy amounts of time relaxing and sleeping as well as working and exercising. If you work or live in a stressful situation, spend as much time as possible in a peaceful environment to balance out the load. Just as your body needs balance in nutrition, body pH, water intake, exercise, and body system functions, so your mind and emotions need balance in exercise and rest, activity and relaxation, and social time and private time. Make plans to see to your own personal needs as well as to fulfill your obligations to others. If you don't take care of yourself, you soon won't be able to take care of anyone else.
Despite your best efforts, you will experience stress in your life . . . at home, at work, out in the world, or just watching the evening news. When these attacks come, recognize them and retaliate swiftly to minimize the effects on your body. When you realize a situation is stressing you, step away from the problem and relax a few minutes, calm yourself, and rethink the situation. Avoid stressful relationships, situations, and places when you can. Regularly take action to get rid of stress and to prevent its buildup in your body. Exercise, dance, run, climb, breathe deeply, play racquetball, have a good cry, visit your favorite spa, or go shopping; do whatever relaxes you, works out unhealthy stress hormones, and takes your mind off stressful things for a while.
Don't forget one of the best stress-busters - laughter. I'll never forget that when I was a Home Economics teacher, one of my students invented a recipe, which erroneously listed "1 cup of chicken breath" as a key ingredient. I first read the recipe at 2:00 AM and burst into hysterical laughter. I shared his chicken breath recipe with the other teachers, my students, and my family. To this day, I smile when I think of it.
Dr. Paul E. McGhee, professor and researcher reports that "body's healing system responds favorably to positive attitudes, thoughts, moods, and emotions (e.g., to love, hope, optimism, caring, intimacy, joy, laughter, and humor), and negatively to negative ones (hate, hopelessness, pessimism, indifference, anxiety, depression, loneliness, etc.)" Dr. McGhee explains that laughter relaxes muscles, reduces stress hormones, and enhances the immune system. It can even reduce the awareness of pain in some patients. All in all laughter is an all around health enhancer and it just plain makes us feel good.
Unfortunately, today's fast-track world leaves little opportunity for naturally occurring relaxation. We must be responsible to create those moments for ourselves. Don't let stress catch you unaware. Be ready to attack and defeat this ever-present enemy.
Eileen Silva, Ph.D., N.D. is a metabolic health balancing expert, talk show guest, and lecturer. Dr. Silva is also an individual, group, and corporate weight management consultant. Contact Dr. Silva at www.dreileensilva.com