Look what STRESS can do for you

Stress is a natural human response to pressure when faced with challenging and sometimes dangerous situations. That pressure is not only about what’s happening around us, but often also about demands we place on ourselves. Experiencing stress is part of being alive and some stress helps increase our alertness and energy to meet challenging situations. If stress lasts a long time or overwhelms our ability to cope, it can have a negative effect on our health, wellbeing, relationships, work and general enjoyment of life which eventually can lead to our immune system becoming weaker.

General ill health can occur when we are under stress because the productions of white blood cells are reduced (lymphocytes), limiting the body’s effectiveness in fighting off illness.  Unfortunately long term stress has been linked to the following conditions:

  • Coronary Heart Disease – the stress hormone cortisol causes artery blockages to build more rapidly; cholesterol levels have also been shown to increase under stress.
  • Muscle tension
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney disease
  • Depression
  • Canker Sores
  • Skin problems – skin disorders such as psoriasis can be triggered by periods of stress
  • Stomach ulcers – stress is not always the cause, but can trigger them and/or make them worse

Here is a list of ways to help reduce chronic stress:

Laughter -help reduce stress and its effects by laughing

–       100 laughs is equivalent to 10 minutes of rowing

–       stress hormones are reduced after an episode of laughter

Exercise– prepares your body to better handle physical stress

–       a healthy body complements a sharp mind

–       studies have shown that active people are more optimistic, and optimism can help with your ability to cope with stress

–       exercise helps improve your breathing

Sleep– experiment to find the right amount of sleep that works for you

–       taking naps may also help alleviate stress

–       those who exercise tend to sleep better

Healthy Diet – eating a diet rich in nutrients, vitamin, minerals can help your body to better handle stress

Hobbies – enjoying a hobby will allow your mind to focus on something else other than your stressors

Music – finding the right music may help you to relax and lower your tension

Pets – studies have shown that having a pet can reduce one’s stress levels

Positive Thinking – a healthy attitude is a good way to cope with stress

Relaxation Techniques – yoga, deep belly breathing, and stretching help relax the body and mind

Sex – sex can be a great stress reliever both psychologically and physiologically

Spirituality – your faith can help you through stressful or depressing times

Time Management – try organizing and prioritizing your time

Vacations – when vacationing, concentrate on unwinding and don’t let it turn into a stressful event in itself

Volunteer – volunteering can make you feel great, helping to reduce your stress levels.

Foods to Avoid

  • Caffeine – a stimulant that releases adrenaline, a stress hormone, which interferes with sleep and leads to dependency of the body for regular caffeine fixes
  • Alcohol – a sedative that intensifies anxiety and irritability and breed dependency for regular use
  • Refined sugar – raises blood sugar quickly causing mood swings and decreases the ability to deal with stress

Foods to Consume

  • Whole grains
  • Vegetables
  • Beans
  • Raw seeds/nuts
  • Fruits
  • Cold water fish
  • Turkey or Chicken
  • Yogurt/Keifer
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Fermented Vegetables

And my final thought on stress…know when to worry.  The golden rule of worry is to avoid worrying about anything over which you have little or no control.  The sooner you accept something is beyond your control, the lower your stress will be.

Rana

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