Tuesday, 3 May 2011

How to Effectively Deal with Stress

Healing From the Inside Out  - Dealing with Stress
Being born is stressful, dying is stressful and pretty much everything in between is stressful.

Stress is all around us, all the time. Whether it’s fighting bad traffic, dealing with pressure at work and home or struggling with unrealistic expectations, we will never be free of stress. The trick therefore is learning how to deal with it in a healthy manner.

The body’s response to stress was designed to keep us alive in dangerous situations. It was meant to be a short- term response to get you out of trouble. Modern day life causes people to stay stressed constantly. This results in the adrenal glands releasing excess cortisol, which takes a toll on your health, bringing on premature aging, damaging your immune system and setting the stage for long- term chronic illnesses.

Not managing your stress levels can be dangerous

Stress can:

 Raise your blood pressure and damage your blood vessels making you more susceptible to heart disease
• Raise cortisol levels which will cause you to hold fat around the abdomen
• Prevent you from getting a good nights sleep (check back for my upcoming article on the importance of sleep and       how to get some)
• Cause chronic muscle spasm, which restricts blood flow, leading to fatigued sore muscles and joint pain
• Interfere with the regulation of stomach acids causing heartburn, ulcers and can promote diseases of the colon
• Suppress the immune system, leaving you susceptible to disease and infections
• Cause neurological problems by destroying the nerve endings in the hippocampus region of the brain, which is responsible for memory and learning
• Cause negative thoughts, which lead to diseases like cancer and depression
• Reduce the skins ability to regenerate, resulting in unhealthy skin appearance
• Lead to burnout

For a more detailed physiological look at these processes, read this article http://www.stanford.edu/group/hopes/treatmts/lifestyleandhd/an3.html

So how do we handle stress in a healthy way?

The first step is to identify your stress
Take this test to identify the areas in your life that cause you the most stress.

Here is the Holmes and Rahe stress scale that scores various life experiences and rates them according to how much physical stress they cause you, check out your score to see where you stand.

The next step is to take a close look at your stress factors. With each one, examine it and decide it there is anything you can do to reduce this stress factor.

 For example if heavy traffic/being late is a big problem for you, what are your options?

 You could move closer to work, find a job closer to home, leave earlier to give yourself more time, change your route, carpool or take the bus.

 If your stress level is due to worry about the possibility of being in a natural disaster like an earthquake, you have to understand that the solution may be out of your hands. If that’s the case, let it go, you can’t be responsible for that which is out of your control. Do your best to prepare for the situation, then stop worrying about what may or may not happen in the future. Live your life in the moment, be here today!

Determine if your stress factors are really that important. Do you want your tombstone to read, there wasn’t a single dust bunny under her bed, or here lies someone who lived their life to the fullest?
There are many tools you can use to help yourself cope better with stress:

1. Nutrition. Eating a balanced, nutritious diet will provide your body with the tools it needs to bolster your immune system and reduce the effects of free radicals (see my article on nutrition for more information)

2.  Exercise. Getting regular exercise is a potent tool for reducing the effects of stress and depression. (Stay tuned for my upcoming article on exercise)

3.  Meditation. Learning how to quiet your mind is like taking a mini vacation. You will come back refreshed and ready to tackle anything.

4.  Breathing. Sounds simple, but the fact is that many of us are shallow breathers. This reduces the oxygen available to our muscles causing fatigue and irritability. When you find yourself tensing up, stop and take 10 long slow deep breaths. Breath in slowly fully filling the lungs to a count of 4. Hold your breath for a count of 4. Slowly release your breath for a count of 4 and hold for a count of 4 before taking your next breath. The act of counting acts as a meditation, focusing your mind on one task and giving it a rest for all the other thoughts bombarding you. The deep breathing oxygenates starved muscles giving you more energy and decreasing pain and tension.

5. Progressive relaxation. We get so used to holding tension in our bodies that we learn to ignore it. The next time you are in a stressful situation, check in with yourself and ask where you are experiencing discomfort. Do you have a headache, upset stomach or pain in the neck? Learning to release clenched muscles will reduce these kinds of symptoms. To begin with, lie in bed. Starting at your feet clench them as tight as you can for 10 seconds, then relax as much as you can. Continue doing this working your way up through the different muscle groups of the body. Clench and release, the calves, the upper thighs, the buttocks, the stomach muscles, the arms and hands, your neck muscles, screw up your face as tight as you can and release. Remember to breathe deep breaths while doing this, you should see your stomach raise and then your chest as you fill your lungs. Take a moment to experience your body in a totally relaxed state, use this memory when you are feeling stressed to release tension

6. Journaling. We often have troubling thoughts that need exploring. One of the best things you can do to release negative thoughts is to write them down. By allowing yourself to express your pain you release it. You can make lists of goals to help focus your energy, talk about your dreams for your life, or blow off steam. Use your journal to explore yourself. A good exercise is to write a page first thing every morning as soon as you wake up. Don’t think about it too much, just write whatever is on your mind, even if you can’t think of anything to say, write that. Do this every day for a month without re-reading. Then go back and read your entries. Look for common themes in your life. What do you complain about the most? What are you proud of? What makes you happy? Use this knowledge to focus your energy on the areas that need improving and to spend more time doing that which brings you pleasure.

7. Get a Life! We all have responsibilities to others, family and jobs. You must take some time for yourself. If you wait till the kids are gone, the mortgage is paid, etcetera, it may be too late. You can’t repair a lifetime of mis-use to your body when you retire. If you haven’t looked after yourself all along the way, chances are you will be too crippled in your golden years to enjoy them. Find things that give you pleasure and do them. Take a painting class, enjoy a hobby, schedule lunch dates with your friends, plan a long soak in a bath with candles and relaxing music. Take time to enjoy nature and art. Stop and smell the roses!! Stop rushing through your life and take a moment to appreciate all that you have. You can use this attitude of gratefulness to reverse negative thoughts. Try thinking about the positive aspect of your situation. For example: I am grateful for all the dishes in my sink because it means I have enough to eat. Find a connection to spirit. Having faith in a greater power can help you look at the bigger picture  and for the love of God, stop sweating the small stuff!
8. Visualization. We can’t all afford to take a holiday when we are overworked and stressed, but you can take a mini mental break. Picture a place where you would be totally relaxed and happy. For example if that place was a beach: see the waves lapping at the shore, feel the breeze across your skin, smell the sunshine in the air, feel the peace in your body as you sway languidly in your hammock. If it helps, find a picture that represents your special place and put it near your computer or work- space and when you need a break, look at it and let the memories of that relaxed feeling wash over you.

9. Holidays. Make the effort to schedule regular breaks in your life. Don’t keep putting them off. A change of scenery can be more refreshing than all the sleep in the world. Turn off the phone and get away even if it’s only for a day or two.

10. Massage. Get regular massage to help release tension, detoxify the body and to treat minor pain before it becomes chronic. Mobile massage is the ultimate treat. You don’t have to fight traffic, just roll off the table into bed and relax and enjoy your body’s new- found sense of freedom.

Don't let stress control your life. Use it in a positive way to push yourself to higher goals and motivate you to make necessary changes. Take time to nurture yourself and appreciate every day. Love yourself, be gentle with yourself and take time to smile at others.

Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty. There is nothing like doing for others to act as a release valve for your own worries!

Did you like this post?
Share it! Tweet it! "Like" Sage Advice on Facebook!
Thank you, your awesome

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you so much for taking the time to leave me a comment, Rhianna

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


Site Meter