“Life happens!” We all have varying degrees of stress. We could not be overcomers without issues to overcome. So the question is “How much stress?” and “How do we deal with challenges?”
Usually, we think of stress as a bad thing. But at its most basic level, stress is helpful. When your mind senses a dangerous situation -- such as an animal about to attack -- it triggers your body to react with the "fight or flight" response, which helps you do one of these two things…fight for your life, or run for your life!
All body systems rush “to battle stations!” Adrenalin kicks in; epinephrine increases your pulse and breathing, sending more oxygen to your muscles and brain to give you a jolt of energy, narrows your pupils and helps focus your vision. Cortisol (the stress hormone) increases the glucose levels in your blood to provide more sugar to the brain. It also shuts down nonessential functions like digestion and reproductive systems, so your energy can be directed to the emergency at hand.
Your body is well equipped to deal with acute stress, like the animal attack mentioned above. When the stressful event is over, your body's systems should return to normal. But in today's world we usually face psychological threats, such as marital discord, financial troubles, or the death of a loved one, which are more chronic and prolonged than immediate physical dangers.
Our bodies exhibit the same stress response, but when there's no end to the stressful situation, we remain in crisis mode. Our bodies aren't equipped to deal with these prolonged, elevated levels of stress hormones, and a host of health problems can result. Depression and anxiety are common, as is an increased risk of digestive disorders, heart disease, obesity, and insomnia.
Are you too anxious to sleep? Your nerves are supersized. Nails—what nails? Are you suffering from ordinary stress or flipping off the charts? Alice Domar, PhD, co-author of Be Happy Without Being Perfect and executive director of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health, has designed a quiz to help you get a handle on your anxiety quotient. All you need is your mouse. Calm down. Breathe. No pressure. Not a soul will know how you score but you.
The first step in successful stress relief is deciding to make a change in how you manage stress. The next step is identifying your stress triggers. Some causes of stress are obvious — job pressures, relationship problems or financial difficulties. But daily hassles and demands, such as commuting, arranging day care or being overcommitted at work, can also contribute to your stress level. Positive events also can be stressful. If you got married, started a new job and bought a new house in the same year, you could have a high stress level. While negative events in general are more stressful, be sure to also assess positive changes in your life.
Once you've identified your stress triggers, you make strategies for dealing with them. Sometimes the solution may be as easy as turning off the TV when the evening news is too distressing. Or, when you can't avoid a stressful situation, try brainstorming ways to reduce the irritation factor. And don't feel like you have to figure it out all on your own. Seek help and support from family and friends. You may want to ask them what stress-relief techniques have worked well for them. And many people benefit from daily practice of stress reduction techniques.
Stress won't disappear from your life…stress management isn't an overnight cure. But with practice, you can learn to manage your stress level and increase your ability to overcome and live with life's challenges.
The Mayo Clinic Staff advises these top ten stress relievers:
1. Get active – Exercise and physical activity can act as a stress reliever. Physical activity pumps up your feel-good endorphins and refocuses your mind on your body's movements, improving your mood and helping the day's irritations fade away. Consider walking, jogging, gardening, house cleaning, biking, swimming, weightlifting or anything else that gets you active.
2. Prayer and Meditation – Prayer and meditation instill a sense of calm, peace and balance that benefits your emotional well-being and your overall health. Guided meditation, guided imagery, visualization and other forms of meditation can be practiced anywhere at any time, whether you're out for a walk, riding the bus to work or waiting at the doctor's office.
3. Laugh – A good sense of humor can't cure all ailments, but it can help you feel better, even if you have to force a fake laugh through your grumpiness. When you start to laugh, it lightens your mental load and actually causes positive physical changes in your body. So read some jokes, tell some jokes, watch a comedy or hang out with your funny friends.
4. Connect – When you're stressed and irritable, your instinct may be to wrap yourself in a cocoon. Instead, reach out to family and friends and make social connections. So take a coffee break with a friend, email a relative, volunteer for a charitable group, or visit your place of worship.
5. Assert yourself – You might want to do it all, but you probably can't, at least not without paying a price. Learn to say no to some tasks or to delegate them. Saying yes may seem like an easy way to keep the peace, prevent conflicts and get the job done right. But it may actually cause you internal conflict because your needs and those of your family come second, which can lead to stress, anger, resentment and even more stress.. Cut yourself some slack.
6. Do yoga – With its series of postures and controlled-breathing exercises, yoga is a popular stress reliever. Try yoga on your own or find a class — you can find classes in most communities. You can add meditation and prayer in the traditions of your own faith.
7. Sleep – Stress often gives sleep the heave-ho. You have too much to do — and too much to think about — and your sleep suffers. But sleep is the time when your brain and body recharge.. If you have sleep troubles, make sure that you have a quiet, relaxing bedtime routine, listen to soothing music, put clocks away, and stick to a consistent schedule.
8. Journal – Writing out thoughts and feelings can be a good release for otherwise pent-up emotions.. Write whatever comes to mind. No one else needs to read it, don't strive for perfection in grammar or spelling. Just let your thoughts flow on paper — or computer screen. Once you're done, you can toss out what your wrote or save it to reflect on later.
9. Get musical – Listening to or playing music is a good stress reliever because it can be relaxing. Crank up the volume and let your mind be absorbed by the music. If music isn't your thing, though, turn your attention to another hobby you enjoy, such as gardening, sewing, sketching — anything that requires you to focus on what you're doing rather than what you think you should be doing.
10. Seek counsel – If stresses increase or self-help measures are not effective, you may need to seek relief in professional therapy or counseling. Therapy may be a good idea if stress leaves you feeling overwhelmed or trapped, if you worry excessively, or if you have trouble carrying out daily routines or meeting responsibilities at work, home or school. Professional counselors or therapists can help you identify sources of your stress and learn new coping tools.
Everyday stress levels can make you less likely to eat well, sleep, exercise, and have positive interactions with family and friends; of course, deficiencies in these areas can increase your stress level, creating a vicious circle. When stresses mount – stop, take a deep breath, and ask yourself, “Is this of eternal significance?”
Disclaimer: Facts in these articles are obtained from medical and clinical journals, scientific publications, and published trade books. These articles have been written and published strictly for information purposes. Consult your health care provider for your specific medical needs. For any questions, comments or suggestions contact Maryella at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.maryellajuiceplus.com