Stress relief is something we all need, but it may seem impossible considering the busy lives many of us lead. Although all stress isn't bad (it can help protect you during a threatening situation), chronic stress can negatively impact your health.
Stress can increase your chances of developing health problems, such as depression, high blood pressure, and even obesity. There's more than one way to relieve stress. What works for one person won't necessarily work for another. Experiment with various stress relief methods to see what works best for you.
Signs of Stress
Stress can effect your health, whether you realize it or not. And since many of the symptoms for stress are also signs for other common health problems, it's an easy condition to overlook or write-off as just a nagging headache or ordinary fatigue. Stress can impact every system of the body, from your mood to behavior, sleep patterns and how you feel physically. Here are some common symptoms of stress:
Inability to focus
Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It helps regulate blood pressure, glucose metabolism, insulin, and the immune system. Cortisol production is high in the morning, and low at night.
When your body is in a "fight or flight" situation, cortisol elevates and manufactures changes in your body's chemistry, such as improved memory, lower pain sensitivity, and an energy surge.
Whencortisol is elevated for long periods of time, it can wreak havoc on your body's ability to function normally. You may have trouble sleeping, losing weight, or simply coping with everyday situations.
Persistent stress -- and high cortisol levels -- can impair your brain's performance and even decrease bone density, decrease muscle tissue, elevate blood pressure, and increase body fat.
Stress management benefits
Learning to cope with stress or finding ways to keep anxiety from impacting your physical and mental health, you can sleep better, have better relationships, feel happier, and more content. The benefits of managing stress include:
Better weight management
Improved overall health
Recover from illness faster
Feel happier and content
Improve your relationships
List your stressors
Start keeping a stress journal. List your stressors, their causes, how they make you feel, and how you've dealt with them in the past. After two or three months, review your entries and look for problematic patterns.
Notice how you cope with stress
Record how you cope with your stressors. These responses can worsen your physical and mental health:
- Binge eating
- Spending your free time watching television, surfing the Internet, or playing video games
- Using drugs and/or alcohol
- Fighting (verbal or physical)
Healthy ways to cope with stress are avoiding unnecessary stress, altering stressful situations, adapting to stressors, accepting things you can't change, fitting in fun and relaxation, and living a healthy lifestyle.
Stress Management Methods
Let's take a closer look at the healthy ways to cope with stress.
Avoid unnecessary stress
You can't avoid all stress, but you can ditch some of it. For one thing, you can learn to say "no." Are you the only person that can do tasks A, B or C? Probably not. Know your limits. Delegate responsibility.
Limit your association with people who stress you out. If you can't fix a relationship, end it. If someone you work with is difficult to interact with, avoid contact with them if possible.
Avoid controversy. Leave the room if someone starts talking about a topic that makes your blood boil. Refrain from discussing politics and religion in mixed company.
Choose not to facilitate stress. Take a less-congested road home from work, avoid travel mayhem by taking "stay-cation holidays," and avoid crowds by shopping online.
Make a doable "do" list. You probably have a mega "do" list. Sticky notes everywhere, too? Keep the "must-do" items and ditch the rest. Accomplish the most important things, then move on to the "should-do," "bucket", and other lists.
Altering the situation
Plan. Schedule a limited number of tasks per day. Allow time for breaks and meals. If you sit a lot during the day, take a few minutes to stretch or walk each hour. If you are a stay-at-home mom, on your feet most of the day, take time to relax with a book or call a friend while the kids are napping.
Communicate. If something is bugging you, tell someone before you boil over, so you can work together to find a solution.
Compromise. Give and take can do wonders to lower stress levels. Talk it out, listen to others, be willing to give a little, and experience others doing the same in return.
Put your foot down (nicely): If you've got work to do, make it known to chatty co-workers. If you feel people are always taking advantage of your easy-going nature, start sticking up for yourself.
Be positive. No matter what is stressing you out, there are always things io be grateful for. Think of the first time your baby smiled, or a crucial time a friend lent support.
Use delays productively. If you're waiting in line, read and answer some work emails. Or check some of your to-do lists, adding new tasks and striking off those you've completed.
Don't put perfectionism on a pedestal. Nobody's perfect. Be sure the demands you put on yourself and others are reasonable.
Keep things in perspective. Honestly, is the problem worth losing sleep over, or screaming at your husband about? Will you even remember this "crisis" six months from now? Or even next week? If not, relax. Use your energy for something a more worthwhile battle -- you're sure to have one or two.
Accept that you can't control everything. Concentrate instead on what you can control. You can't change the fact that you must drive to your office everyday. You can, however, ask your manager if you can push your shift back or forward 30 minutes so you can avoid rush hour traffic.
Talk about it. If you can't deal with a stressor on your own, consult a therapist or talk to a friend. Even if the person can't fix the problem, talking about a problem is sometimes enough to make you see that the issue is more manageable than you originally believed.
Look for a silver lining. You may not like your situation, but you can learn from it.
Forgive and forget. Mistakes happen. Holding a grudge is the same as bottling your anger.
Stay connected. Surround yourself with positive, supportive people.
Get a daily dose of fun. Take time to do at least one fun thing every day.
Take five. Take time to rest, relax, and restore your energy. Try meditation, visualization, stretching, deep breathing, or just taking a nap.
Laughter. It helps the body battle stress.
Eat balanced, healthy meals, and snacks. Consume whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low- or non-fat dairy, and healthy fats. Cool it on the sugar, caffeine, salt, and processed foods.
Exercise. Get your heart pumping with moderately intense aerobic activity, such as walking fast or working in the garden, for 30 minutes a days, five day a week. Include strength training with weights or body weight at least two times weekly, as well. Make it fun, not a chore!
Avoid unhealthy habits such as smoking, excessive drinking, and taking drugs.
Get regular sleep. Chronic fatigue can fuel stress. Fuel your body and mind instead, with at least seven hours of sleep each night.
The supplements listed on this page arespecifically marketed for battling stress. However, there are other incredible compounds on this site that you must explore.
The adaptogen and L-theanine - the mellow mino
The most important two areRhodiola rosea and L-theanine, both of which were discussed on "Unleashing the Power of the Female Brain," a June 2013 episode of the Dr. Oz show with brain scan researcher Daniel G. Amen, MD.
Above, we reported that prolonged cortisol levels is a major physical issue. One great supplement to help reduce cortisol is to takemucuna pruriens before bed. It contains L-Dopa, and will not only reduce cortisol, but it will boost growth hormone levels as well -- leading to incredible sleep for some users.
Omega-3 and fish oil
An improper diet is amajor cause of mental issues. Westerners get far too much omega-6 fatty acids, and not enough omega-3 fats (such as those from fish). Anomega-3 supplement from fish oil may help balance this out, but fixing your diet is far more important.
If you'd like to try an herb/spice that's been linked to lower stressand potential appetite suppression, check out oursaffron page.
As always, we are not doctors on this site, and no statements on this page have been approved by the FDA. You must get written consent from your doctor before beginning any new diet or supplementation program.
PricePlow is a price comparison engine for nutritional supplements and vitamins. We havestress relief supplements discussed at the bottom of this article, and also link you to the two most effective herbs / extracts (Rhodiola rosea and L-theanine) which are listed in another part of this site.
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