Stress is an unavoidable part of life. Everyone experiences stress and everyday small stresses are not harmful. In fact, they are often just stimulating enough to make life enjoyable, or at least interesting.
Some people handle stress well. Others are more negatively influenced by it. They are often driven and ambitious, and put themselves into situations that less driven people tend to avoid. Those who are driven are often said to have type ¨A¨ personalities, and the more relaxed personality is labeled type ¨B¨.
A study was done at the University of Washington Medical School that scientifically rated stressful situations by their negative effects on the physical and mental health of persons. Rated highest is the death of a spouse, and divorce next, followed by other stressful circumstancces such as marriage, personal illness, etc. They found that the larger the number of these situations that are experienced by a person, the higher the chance of illness.
Dr. Hans Selye, stress expert and author of Stress without Distress, says that is not stress that is harmful...it is distress. Distress occurs when emotional stress is prolonged and not dealt with in a positive way. The physical and emotional state that results from distress can lead to illness. The less serious conditions that are stress-related are fatigue, headache, heartburn, indigestion, insomnia, and even hair loss. The more serious conditions and diseases are acicosis, backache, cancer, Crohn´s disease, depression, diarrhea, diverticulosis, hypertension, impotence, migraine headaches, pancreatic disease, and ulcers.
When faced with a high degree of stress, the body reacts this way: digestion shuts off and reart rate increases, with a resulting increase in blood pressure and breathing. Fats and sugars are released from stores in the body, cholesterol levels rise, and the bloog prepares for clotthing (necessary in case of injury) by changing in composition. In primitive times, these changes in the body prepared man to flee or fight. Now we rarely use this response. A state of continual stress eventually tires the body, weakens the immune system, creates states of hypertension, raises cholesterol levels, and initiates conditions such as headaches, pains, sleeplessness, indigestion, and depression, which can turn into much more serious problems.
What should you do about stress? There are many different ways to relieve stress: choose the ones that work best for you. The following is a list of suggestions.
1. Physical activity can clear your mind and keep stress under control. Some people like to run or walk by themselves; others prefer team sports such as basketball or soccer. Any type of exercise will do the trick, if a regular exercise program is followed. Exercising once a month will not do much to relieve stress.
2. Some people find that meditation helps them relax and handle stress.
3. Try to rest and to get enoungh sleep. This may be difficult, because stress often keeps you up at night, although there are some people who welcome sleep as an escape. The less sleep you get, the more stressful you will feel, and the higher your chance of becoming ill will be, because your immune system will weaken.
4. Deep breathing is good and can be done when you are faced with a stressful situation at home, at work, while in your car, or elsewhere.
5. Take a day off - that´s what weekends are for ! Take a drive or go to the beach. If you prefer, stay home and work in the yard or read. Try to control your thoughts during this time so that you don´t think about work or whatever probles are causing the stress.
6. Hobbies are great for relieving stress. What do you enjoy doing? Take the time to do it and enjoy yourself. Don´t feel guilty for spending time and money ddoing something for yourself! your health is worth it. Try not to take life so seriously. Learn to laugh if you cannot handle the stress, you may need professional help. There is nothing wrong with resorting th therapy to help you handle your problems. It is often enlightening to talk about your problems with someone who can remain totally objective.
Avoid caffeine, which aggravates stress, and smoking, alcohol, and drugs. While drugs and alcohol may offer temporary relief from stress, the stressor is still there the next day, and your health suffers with their use. Remember, there is no escape from stress. You must..and cann..learn to handlee it.
One of the most important ways that anyone can remain in good health during stressful times is by following a correct diet. Along with avoiding caffeine and alcohol, you should also stay away from sugar, white flour products, preserved meats, and heavy spices and seasonings. Do not eat junk foods! A good diet will give you the strength you need and keep your nervous system and immune system in great shape.