Saturday, January 10, 2009

STRESS - Manage your stress,Measure your stress, and Reduce your stress


WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU ARE STRESSED?


Stress is what you feel when you have to handle more than you are used to. When you are stressed, your body responds as though you are in danger. It makes hormones that speed up your heart, make you breathe faster, and give you a burst of energy. This is called the fight-or-flight stress response.
Some stress is normal and even useful. It can help if you need to work hard or react quickly. For example, it can help you win a race or finish an important job on time.
But if stress happens too often or lasts too long, it can have bad effects. It can be linked to headaches, an upset stomach, back pain, or trouble sleeping. It can weaken your immune system, making it harder to fight off disease. If you already have a health problem, stress may make it worse. It can make you moody, tense, or depressed. Your relationships may suffer, and you may not do well at work or school.
What can you do about stress?

The good news is that you can learn ways to manage stress. To get stress under control:

* Find out what is causing stress in your life.

* Look for ways to reduce the amount of stress in your life.

* Learn healthy ways to relieve stress.

How do you figure out your stress level?

Sometimes it is clear where stress is coming from. You can count on stress during a major life change such as the death of a loved one, getting married, or having a baby. But other times it may not be so clear why you feel stressed.
It may help to keep a stress journal. Get a notebook and write down when something makes you feel stressed. Then write how you reacted and what you did to deal with the stress. Keeping a stress journal can help you find out what is causing your stress and how much stress you feel. Then you can take steps to reduce the stress or handle it better.

How can you reduce your stress?

Stress is a fact of life for most people. You may not be able to get rid of stress, but you can look for ways to lower it.
Try some of these ideas:

* Learn better ways to manage your time. You may get more done with less stress if you make a schedule. Think about which things are most important, and do those first.

* Find better ways to cope. Look at how you have been dealing with stress. Be honest about what works and what does not. Think about other things that might work better.
Take good care of yourself. Get plenty of rest. Eat well. Do not smoke. Limit how much alcohol you drink.

* Try out new ways of thinking. When you find yourself starting to worry, try to stop the thoughts. Work on letting go of things you cannot change. Learn to say "no."

* Ask for help.People who have a strong network of family and friends manage stress better.

* Sometimes stress is just too much to handle alone. It can help to talk to a friend or family member, but you may also want to see a counselor.


How can you relieve stress?

You will feel better if you can find ways to get stress out of your system. The best ways to relieve stress are different for each person. Try some of these ideas to see which ones work for you:

* Exercise. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to manage stress. Walking is a great way to get started.

* Write. It can help to write about the things that are bothering you.
Let your feelings out. Talk, laugh, cry, and express anger when you need to.
Do something you enjoy. A hobby can help you relax. Volunteer work or work that helps others can be a great stress reliever.

* Learn ways to relax your body. This can include breathing exercises, muscle relaxation exercises, massage, aromatherapy, yoga, or relaxing exercises like tai chi and qi gong.

* Focus on the present. Try meditation, imagery exercises, or self-hypnosis. Listen to relaxing music. Try to look for the humor in life. Laughter really can be the best medicine.



MANAGING STRESS DURING ROUGH TIMES


With news headlines all around us announcing economic changes for the worse, a lot of us are beginning to feel the twist of anxiety. When this stress response comes, the neurochemicals in our brain are thrown off balance.
Sustained periods of stress will affect your brain, leading to chemical imbalance. It will interfere with your memory, focus and concentration, making you feel agitated and unable to calm down. It is crucial for brain health and overall peace of mind that you learn to control your anxiety effectively. Read on to learn the ways to quell your anxiety and relax. As always, if you are undergoing serious anxiety, consult a healthcare professional.

1. Health in Mind = Health in Body
The average person has 60,000 thoughts a day, and nearly 80 percent of them are negative. Imagine what this is doing to your body! This negativity affects your thought patterns and behaviors subconsciously, and this has an unhealthy impact on your body.
Reframe the way you say things to yourself. You can actually change the response to anxiety with repeated affirmations, which will introduce a new positive pattern behavior in your thinking. Instead of being anxious, give empowering messages to yourself: I am strong, I am grateful, I can get through this. Repeat these positive affirmations throughout your day to transform the stress and change your attitude.

2. Cut Back on Stimulants
Stress, anxiety, insomnia, and a racing mind are byproducts of taking in too much caffeine, the central nervous system stimulator that works against your attempts to relax the body and calm the mind. To start, try cutting back for just week to see how fewer stimulants affect your overall stress level. Switch to decaf coffee, or better yet, drink herbal tea. Also, cut out sodas and other drinks that are packed with stimulants.

3. Deep Breathing Calms Anxiety
If you are in a stressful situation, you may have noticed that you breath very shallowly, up in your throat area. Unfortunately, many adults breathe this way all the time; somewhere along the way, we stopped breathing abdominally, as we did when we were babies. This habitual shallow breathing mimics the bodily actions of stress, which can actually induce your body to feel anxiety.

When you learn to breathe deeply all day - by breathing from your diaphragm - you will reduce general anxiety and gain other proven benefits, such as lowered blood pressure and heart rate. Also, it is estimated that 70 percent of the toxins and wastes in our bodies are eliminated through respiratory breathing. So start deep breathing!
Here's how: Make it part of your every day schedule to practice 20-30 minutes of deep breathing every day, and your body will respond by being relaxed all the time. To learn a method for proper breathing, click here. Also, look into stress-reducing mind-body disciplines such as tai chi, yoga, qigong, and meditation, which all incorporate breathing work into their routines.

4. Herbal Help for Anxiety
Valerian, sometimes called "nature's tranquilizer, is used to regulate the nervous system and relieve tension, irritability, nervous exhaustion and stress, and anxiety for centuries. As a sedative, valerian is non-addictive and relieves sleeplessness without the morning-after grogginess often associated with prescription sleep medications.
Schisandra berry has been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine to revitalize the senses. It increases physical endurance and mental concentration, while at the same time soothing the nerves and taking the edge off anxiety. Take these herbs anytime during the day and before bed in tea or capsule form. Many of my patients have had remarkable results with Calm-Fort Elixir, an all-natural formulation of herbs to calm your spirit. For more information, click here.

5. Try the Nutrient GABA
A healthy brain needs a balance between neural chemicals that excite the nerves and those that calm the nerves. GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) is the primary neural transmitter for calming the transmission of nerve signals. It can help prevent anxiety-related messages from reaching the brain. Having levels of GABA that are too low can increase anxiety, insomnia, irritability, and depression. My suggestion is to eat a diet rich in GABA including fish, especially mackerel and wheat bran or to take 250-500 milligrams on a daily basis, along with vitamin B6.

6. Get Out of Your Head By Helping Others
Most of us could sit around all day agonizing in our heads about bad news and working our way into a negative inner dialogue. The way to get out of your own head is by doing something for others. Offer to help someone else and completely focus on his or her needs. Give a friend a hand with moving or planning an event. Volunteer for a charitable cause. It's amazing how taking the focus off yourself can reduce your stress and anxiety.

I hope you find the ways to check your anxiety! I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.

May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

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