|Stress can cause headaches,|
fatigue, and anxiety
|Stress helped early humans|
react quickly when danger looked
them in the eye
What causes stress
There are some situations which are expected stressors, like the loss of a loved one, trouble at work, divorce, or financial problems. Other situations might include bad service in a restaurant or heavy traffic when you're in a hurry.
|Happy occasions, like a wedding,|
can cause stress
How to recognize stress
Since we each respond to situations differently, how does one know if they are experiencing stress? Here are some common symptoms:
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of enthusiasm or energy
- Muscle tension and/or muscle aches
- Stomach problems
- Changes in eating habits (over- or under- eating)
- Mood changes (irritability, depression, sadness, etc.)
- Trouble remembering or concentrating
- Feeling hopeless and/or helpless
The important thing to remember is that we all react to pressure differently. The above list is not, by any means, definitive. It is up to each of us to evaluate our response to determine if we are reacting normally or in an unusual manner.
Strategies to naturally deal with stress
If at all possible, leave stressful situations. For example, walk away from an argument or take a break from a particularly uncomfortable business meeting. If traffic is heavy, take an alternate route or visit a park until traffic clears.
Remember the "fight or flight" response and the build up of chemicals in our bodies? Exercise helps remove them and, in fact, helps slow their production. It also is an antidepressant, combats anxiety, and helps us sleep. If you can't manage daily exercise, try for 30 minutes a day, 3-5 times a week.
Eat foods high in B Vitamins like nuts, potatoes, bananas, lentils, chili peppers, beans, molasses, and whole grains. Reduce alcohol, caffeine, sugar and junk food. Drink a lot of water to stay hydrated.
Have you ever noticed that when you're stressed you breathe quickly and shallowly? Quick, shallow breaths deplete the brain of oxygen. Take five deep breaths to bring your body back to normal. Deep breathing will also improve your mood.
Sometimes we can divert our minds by simply doing something ordinary, like cleaning house, reading, gardening, or cooking. Even watching TV can stop worrisome thoughts.
Talking to a close friend or a trusted family member may help relieve our anxiety. Simply airing the problems we face can minimize their impact on our lives.
Relax both the body and the mind. Try guided meditation or yoga. Take a scented bath. Focus on the positive in your life and list the things you are grateful for. Take a nap. Listen to soothing music or take a walk in nature.
|Laughter is the|
Laughter tends to relax your whole body. It also increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies. And, remember those stress chemicals and hormones? Laughter decreases them while, at the same time, causes the release of endorphins into our system (they are the body’s natural feel-good chemicals). So, watch a comedy, call your funniest friend, or read a funny book. Or simply start laughing ... before you know it, you'll be doubling over with a good belly laugh.
Stress is inevitable. Managing it properly can be the difference between using it as a motivating, learning tool or letting it cause illness.
William James, an American philosopher and psychologist, said this of stress: "The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another."
How do you manage stress in your life?
Sneak Peek: Have you heard of The People's Movement? Join us next week for an introduction!
The information presented in our holistic living series is not, and should not be used as, a substitute for medical advice.