Coping with Stress
Stress, while somewhat normal, can be very damaging if it becomes severe. It can cause harm to your body, mind and spirit. There are some ways that you can help yourself deal with the stress in your life and avoid any damaging effects.
Daily we face stress just living our normal existence. Running a home, holding down a job, raising your children, helping elderly parents, planning for your retirement - well, the list goes on as we all know. Sometimes these factors alone can create an over load of stress in our lives. Adding more stress means trouble.
As we age, we find our health and vitality can decline some and unresolved stress accentuates this. An interesting fact to note on aging is that only 30 percent of the characteristics of aging are genetically based; the remaining 70 percent are not.
Scientific studies have now acknowledged a definite connection between the mind and body. The two are interconnected in such a way that physical health and emotional well being are closely linked.
Short Term Stress
Our bodies are designed to deal with short-term stress. When we are under stress, adrenaline surges within us and our immune system is heightened. Short term stress, such as having to give a speech, has a defined end point, and afterward the adrenaline surge can stop and the body can return to normal. Long term stress, on the other hand, such as being overwhelmed by one's job, has no defined endpoint, and the state of constant alarm that the body is forced into weakens the immune system and compromises the body's defenses.
Researchers at the University of Michigan found that short-term stress boosts the body's ability to fight disease. However, prolonged stress weakens the immune system by as much as 60 percent.
As stress levels increase, our immune system decreases causing vulnerability to disease. When depleted, the immune system is at risk from invading bacteria and viruses which in turn results in life-threatening diseases including cancer. These are the physical threats of too much stress. Emotionally, our state of mind when stressed can alter the chemicals in our body. These chemical changes directly relate to the negative influence on our immune system.
We have had many advances here in the United States that are aiding in longer life spans. Sadly, we still rank number eleven in the world life expectancy in spite of the advances in modern medicine and our knowledge of healthy lifestyles. When you add excess emotional stress to the physical stress of the aging process, you can and will feel old and sick long before your time.
Obviously, we cannot escape the effects of aging in its natural progression, but we can take steps to get our stress under control and ward off the damage it does to our health. Consequently, you'll live a happier, healthier, better quality life and aging can become nothing more than adding a number to your age every year.
The first and most important thing we need to learn to do is recognize the warning signs of too much stress. Keep in mind, these symptoms can vary from person to person. The first and universal sign of stress is a feeling of pressure and/or becoming overwhelmed in your daily existence. Other symptoms include physical complaints such as stomachaches, headaches or diarrhea.
Getting along with others can become difficult along with changes in behavior such as moments of extreme anger and annoyance at little things that normally did not affect you in this manner. Crying for no particular reason, inappropriate behavior that is not age-appropriate, insomnia, nightmares, too much sleep, difficulty in communicating with others, personality changes, withdrawal from friends and family and impatience are all common warning signs. If several of these symptoms sound familiar to you, there is a chance your level of stress is too high. Seek help because not dealing with it can lead to permanent feelings of helplessness and ineffectiveness.
How you respond to pressure determines where your stress comes from, therefore, it is important that you know your personal stress point. To determine your stress point, know the load in life that you can and perhaps, do handle and eliminate obligations and added pressure that make you feel over the edge of your level. We all have responsibilities we must deal with in life, of course, but in today's world, often we are over loaded with excess commitments. Some of those stress factors need to be eliminated.
Learn to recognize the stress level you can cope with and the level you cannot. The ones you have to deal with, such as an unexpected illness in your family, financial difficulties etc., needs a different approach if they are causing symptoms of stress.
Oftentimes just talking over a stressful situation can do wonders. Seek help in coping with these types of stress factors in your life. There is no shame in admitting a certain situation feels like more than you can bear. Leaning on your friends, family, or children can be a great asset during these moments. We all have with difficulties at some time or another in our lives. Learning how to approach them is vital to your well being.
Additionally, when you are feeling uptight, avoid making any hasty decisions. Wait until you are feeling calmer and can think clearly. Shelve any decisions that you do not need to make immediately.
When feeling over stressed there are some physical and mental things you can do to relax your body. Deep breathing is extremely helpful, as is visualization. Imagine a peaceful or happy scene in your mind. Mentally relax different parts of your body by focusing on a certain point of stress such as the common furrowed brow that often accompanies stressful moments. Close your eyes and focus on relaxing your forehead. You should feel the tension releasing from it as you do this.
Prayer and/or meditation can be very beneficial at this point. Exercise plays an essential role in stress reduction by working out excess cortisol, a stress hormone. Any form of exercise you enjoy will aid in releasing tension build-up in your body.
Many people who have difficulty coping with stress and stress related symptoms are those who want to jump to the aid of anyone who requests they do so. If this describes you, you need to learn how to say no. It is not cruel or selfish, it is a necessity in bringing your stress to a manageable level. When you must say no to a friend or family member, you can do so politely but honestly. Tell them you are just over your head with work if this is the case. If someone asks you to do something that makes you uncomfortable, tell him or her so, along with your answer of "I am sorry, I cannot do this for you". It may be difficult at first to put this into practice, but in time, it will get easier and those who love you and care about you should understand. If they do not, they could be an underlying source of your stress and perhaps it is time to have a long talk with the person in question.
One last thing: To help in coping with stress, work out a regular routine and maintain it as best you can. This is especially important during times of excess stress such as a life crisis, family problems, health problems, a career move or moving to a new home.
The human body is equipped to handle some stress in life, but too much stress can literally be deadly. Do some soul searching, get to know your own limitations, keep those commitments you are comfortable with and learn to hand overload when you must. If you have difficulty coping with stress on your own, seek the aid of a friend, clergyman, loved one or if necessary, a therapist. In doing so, you will feel much better and will be doing your loved ones a huge favor, and will be leading a happier, calmer life.
Six Steps for Coping with Stress
Following are some six more simple steps to help you take control of your stress right now.
1. Take ten.
Find quiet, comfortable place to sit. Take several slow, deep breaths to help clear your mind. Continue breathing and repeating the word "one" to yourself as you exhale. Practice this for five to ten minutes once or twice a day. You should find your stress levels dropping.
2. Tune it out.
Known to ease anxiety and lower blood pressure and heart rate, music is an old but tried and true stress buster. While slow music or soothing instruments typically yields the best results, choose a style you enjoy. Make it something that grabs you and takes your focus off your worries.
3. Take a walk.
Any exercise, even a leisurely 20-minute walk or bike ride, can reduce stress. While you are exercising, do not let yourself think of anything that upsets you and causes stress. Rather, focus on what you are doing; the health benefits you are achieving. If you are taking a walk, look around at the scenery, if on a treadmill or stationery bike, put on some headphones with your favorite music. Whatever you do for your mind, do not let it worry!
4. Write it out.
Put the details of a stressful event down on paper. This may help unburden your mind as well as your body. Take 20 minutes a day, for three days and use that time to write about a stressful event in your life. Do not worry about spelling or style; just focus on getting it off your mind. When you are done with this, tear up your troubles and throw them out.
5. Try an over-the-counter remedy.
Red gingseng is an herbal remedy that is great for bolstering the body against every day stress. Take 100mg in capsule form, three times a day for six months, followed by one dose a day for two months. If you are sensitive to drugs and/or herbs, or have difficulty swallowing pills, you can try tea instead.
6. Customize your workspace.
Studies have shown people in high-stress jobs often are not aware of their stress level. You could be one of them. One quick and easy way to ease workday tension is to make your desk or office feel more like home. Display snapshots of your last family vacation. Hang pictures or postcards of artwork or scenes you enjoy. Buy some fresh flowers and put them on your desk. These personal touches can help relax you even on your busiest day.
Today, so many of us deal with stress. Not by choice, of course, just a consequence of the fast paced lives we live. When we're over stressed, this can cause serious psychological and physical problems. But luckily, nature offers us a sweet balm known as ashwagandha extract. Ashwagandha (Indian Ginseng) is a powerful plant that possesses many rejuvenating properties for body and mind. It helps boost your immune system, stabilize your blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol and has anti-inflammatory benefits. For your mental health, Ashwagandha is perhaps the most potent herbal stress buster, effective in treating mental health issues, insomnia, memory loss, anxiety, depression and any stress related condition. Don't let your health stress you out. Ashwagandha can fight the battle for you - naturally.
The Six Steps to De-Stress
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