A health article about stress management from Your Health Online the A to Z directory of dealing with Health Problems & nutritional Self Care Strategies
Stress can be defined as a state we experience when there is a mismatch between perceived demands and our perceived ability to cope.
Everyone whether men, women or child suffers from stress at one or other point in their lives. We feel stress when we are dealing with our family problems.
We feel stress when we are facing financial or health problems. We feel stress when we got stuck in traffic. Children feel stress in our school age and employees feel stress due to increasing workload.
The Dictionary meaning of stress is any affair requiring mental or physical energy. It is a condition which causes perturbation of both mental and physical health of Individual.
It is a demand of circumstances on mind when mind tries to adjust with continual changes in life. Stress is not synonymous to negative conditions.
Stress can be defined in three ways
The first focuses on the environment’s role as a stimulus, or as a stressor, such as a catastrophic event, major life events and chronic circumstances (a stressful event).
The second approach perceives stress as a response to a stimulus, and the person’s response is called strain (strain is the amount of stress experienced in response to our environment).
The third approach describes stress as a process that includes the first two concepts, but focuses on the interaction between the environment and the person (stress as our behavioural, cognitive and emotional response to a stressful event).
Definition: Stress is the condition that results when person/environment transactions lead the individual to perceive a discrepancy – whether real or not – between the demands of a situation and the resources of the person’s biological, psychological and social systems.
Stress does not necessarily have a negative effect on a person. For example, a certain level of tolerable stress improves performance on many tasks. Also, work can be stressful if it is not sufficiently challenging.
Signs & Symptoms
The body and the mind react to any stress factor. A large number of physical changes take place
at the time of stress induced arousal. The brain and nervous system become intensely active,
the pupils of the eye dilate, digestion slows down, muscles become tense, the heart starts
pumping blood harder and faster, blood pressure increases , breathing become faster,
hormones such as adrenalin are released into the system along with glucose from the liver and
All these changes take place in a split second under the direction of the nervous system. If the
stress factors are immediately removed, no harm accrues and all the changes are reversed.
Stress in its earlier and reversible stage leads to poor sleep, bad temper, continual grumbling,
longer hours of work with less achievement, domestic conflict with spouse and children,
repeated minor sickness, absenteeism and prolonged absence for each spell of sickness,
accident proneness, feeling of frustration and persecution by colleagues and complaints of lack
of cooperation and increase in alcoholic intake.
It is essential that these symptoms are recognised early by the patients or their well-wishers and
remedies measures taken to overcome them.
If, however, stress is continuous or repeated
frequently, a variety of symptoms appear such as dizziness, stiff muscles, headache, vision
problems, breathing difficulties, asthma, allergies, palpitation, digestive disorders, blood sugar
irregularities, backache, skin disorders, bowel disorders and sexual difficulties
The physical symptoms of anxiety are caused by the
brain sending messages to parts of the body to prepare for
the "fight or flight" response.
The heart, lungs and other
parts of the body work faster. The brain also releases stress
hormones, including adrenaline. Common indicators of
excessive anxiety include:
• Dry mouth
• Rapid heartbeat or palpitations
• Irritability or anger
• Inability to concentrate
• Fear of being “crazy”
• Feeling unreal and not in control of your actions
• which is called depersonalization
• Muscle twitches
• Vague aches and pains
• Skin irritation or rashes
• Susceptibility to allergies
• Excessive sweating
• Clenched fist or jaws
• Rapid weight gain or loss
Loss of concentration
Bad dreams or nightmares
Persistent negative thoughts
More gloomy, depressed
Drained, no enthusiasm
Feeling under attack
Cynical, inappropriate humour
Feeling nervous, apprehensive, anxious
Feelings of pointlessness
Loss of confidence
Less satisfaction in life
Reduced self esteem
Loss of appetite or overeating
Loss of interest in sex
Disturbed sleep or insomnia
Drinking more alcohol
Taking work home more
Too busy to relax
Not looking after oneself
Unable to unwind
Increased problems at home
Poor time management
Types of stress
Every person manages stress by their own methods. The way the person faces the stress situation depends upon the hormones.
In stress situations the brain prepares for offence or defense by secreting stress hormones – adrenaline and cortisone. These hormones increase blood pressure and prepare body to take actions in the situations.
When we are able to handle stress situations the hormones in the blood are used up and results in reduce of stress effects. But if we fail to handle the stress situation the hormones are not used up then results in stress related problems rapid heartbeats, dizziness and tense muscles.
Stress can cause irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, backaches, eating disorder, insomnia, allergies, fatigue and frequent cold. It can cause disease like diabetes, heart ailments, asthma and sometimes cancer etc.
The techniques which could provide relaxation form stress are like physical exercises, meditation, listening music (not all types) etc.
Stress is not a bad feeling. Experts tell us that stress in moderate doses are necessary in life. Research suggests that stress can also increase and individual performance. Stress is the best defense system for our body in dangers. In challenging situations brain secretes stress hormones that prepare a person to fight or flee.
With these stress hormones only body is prepared to react in pressure situation. Stress also reminds you for the nature of experiences from your life at various crossroads.
What Causes stress?
Stress may be caused by a variety of factors both outside the body and within. External factors
include loud noises, blinding lights, extreme heat or cold, x-rays and other forms of radiation,
drugs, chemicals, bacterial and various toxic substances, pain and inadequate nutrition. The
factors from within the body include feelings of hate, envy, fear or jealousy.
In the early part of the twentieth century, Walter Cannon was a noted psychologist employed at the Harvard Medical School. He was the first person to describe the body's reaction to stress.
Think of it this way: Your heart begins to pound and speed up, you seem unable to catch your breath, you begin to perspire, your muscles tense and a whole array of changes occur within your body. He identified this stress reaction as the 'fight or flight' response. Your body prepares itself, when confronted by a threat, to either stand ground and fight or run away.
Using rats in an experiment and exposing them to stressors, Hans Selye was able to specify the changes in the body's physiology. In his book “The Stress Of Life”, he summarized stress reactivity as a three-phase process called the general adaptation syndrome:
Phase 1: Alarm reaction - The body shows the changes characteristic of the first exposure to a stressor. At the same time, its resistance is diminished and, if the stressor is sufficiently strong (like extreme temperature), death may result.
Phase 2: State of resistance - Resistance ensues if continued exposure to the stressor is compatible with adaptation. The bodily signs characteristic of the alarm reaction have virtually disappeared, and resistance rises above normal.
Phase 3: Stage of exhaustion - Following long continued exposure to the same stressor, to which the body has become adjusted, eventually adaptation energy is exhausted. The signs of the alarm reaction reappear, but now they are irreversible, and the individual dies.
There are many causes of stress in our daily lives. Our expectations of others are a major cause of stress. Below is an outline of some common causes of stress.
Our moods and emotions are intimately tied to our levels of stress. If we have overly high or unrealistic expectations of other people, then we will continually feel let down and annoyed, hence our stress levels will rise.
Whenever we form a relationship with another person, we have expectations about how both we and that person should think, feel and behave. When these expectations are violated, stress can occur.
Job Related Stress
Much job related stress comes from our lack of expertise in handling our emotions and from our general difficulties forming healthy, positive relationships. In addition, we also possess specific work related expectations, such as those about our bosses, managers, co-workers, employees, customers etc.
Public Speaking Stress
Much of the stress we experience when speaking in front of others comes from our desire to have everyone in the audience like you and approve of what you say.
This is essentially impossible, and successful public speakers have learnt to dismiss these expectations and replace them with more realistic ones.
Parents often get stressed when they have strong expectations of how their children should think, feel and behave. Children often won’t follow these guidelines exactly, so hopefully parents can instil appropriate values, virtues and morals into them.
Don’t have the hope that all your expectations will come true, some will, but most not. Also, a child’s development is connected with teachers and other relatives. Keep in mind that usually they all have your child’s best’s interests at heart, but may express it differently from yourself.
Travelling can be a great way to reduce stress, however the reality is that things do not change just because we’re looking for a little time out. Traffic jams, lost luggage and bad weather can often cause unneeded stress.
The legal system does not always work the way we want it to. We expect the system to be fair and just to our cause, however this is not always the case. It is very easy to get angry and have major disappointments when dealing in a legal battle.
In reality, anything can cause us stress if we place too much of an emphasis on it. We live in a hectic world where there are many things competing for our time, money and patience.
Stress Risk Factors:
Research shows women with children have higher
levels of stress related hormones in their blood than women
without children. Does this mean women without children
don't experience stress? Absolutely not!
It means that women without children may not
experience stress as often or to the same degree which
women with children do.
This means for women with
children, it's particularly important to schedule time for
yourself; you will be in a better frame of mind to help your
children and meet the daily challenge of being a parent,
once your stress level is reduced.
Effects of Long-Term Stress
Where you are under excessive levels of short-term stress, then you may find that your performance goes to pieces.
Afterwards, however, you will be able to treat this as a learning experience and can adopt stress management strategies to avoid the problem in the future.
The effects of long-term stress going out of control can be much more severe. If you do not take action to control it, then the following can happen.
Fatigue and Exhaustion
Steps to remedy this can be as simple as going to bed earlier, or taking a good break. Alternatively re-examine your life and check whether the things you are doing lead to you meeting your personal goals.
This may show you which jobs or commitments you can drop.
Implementing time management strategies may also help you to work more effectively, giving you more time to relax.
High levels of long-term stress may often initiate depression, by failure associated with stress-related under-performance, or by life crises. Deep depression is a clinical illness and should be treated medically. It is important that if you are depressed that you take this seriously.
Severe depressions that can cause years of unhappiness and low performance can be neutralised quickly with drugs, by the appropriate form of psychotherapy, or by other forms of personal action. An important part of intelligence is knowing when there is a problem, and when to ask for help.
Depression may start when:
You miss important deadlines
You are passed over for promotion
You feel out of control
You are very tired
You are feeling inadequate while getting to grips with a new, difficult job
You are bored for a long period of time
Burnout occurs where highly committed people lose interest and motivation. Typically it will occur in hard working, hard driven people, who become emotionally, psychologically or physically exhausted. You are at risk of burnout where:
You find it difficult to say 'no' to additional commitments or responsibilities
You have been under intense and sustained pressure for some time
Your high standards make it difficult to delegate to assistants
You have been trying to achieve too much for too long
You have been giving too much emotional support for too long
Often burnout will manifest itself in a reduction in motivation, volume and quality of performance, or in dissatisfaction with or departure from the activity altogether. Burnout will normally occur slowly, over a long period of time. It may express itself physically or mentally. Symptoms of burnout are shown below:
A feeling of lack of control over commitments
An incorrect belief that you are accomplishing less
A growing tendency to think negatively
Loss of a sense of purpose and energy
Increasing detachment from relationships. This may cause further conflict and stress, adding to the problem.
Where an individual has been under sustained stress for a long period of time, has suffered serious life crises, or has reached a stage of exhaustion and demoralisation, then breakdown may occur.
This may show itself physically as a heart attack, angina or a stroke, or may show as 'nervous' or 'mental' breakdown, where the sufferer becomes mentally ill. In the latter case symptoms may not be seen by the individual, but may be obvious to partners, friends and colleagues.
'Breakdown' sounds sudden and dramatic - in the case of physical breakdown it may be. Mental breakdown, however, may be slow in onset, and may be mild or severe.
The boundary between prolonged unhappiness or exhaustion and breakdown is blurred - one definition of breakdown may be that the sufferer finally carries out some act that makes it impossible to continue functioning normally in society.
Symptoms of nervous breakdown may be:
Uncharacteristic, uncontrollable, irrational behaviour
Intense and excessive anxiety
Obsessive activity - persistent performance of an irrational activity, or of a normal activity to an irrational degree
Bipolar depression - depression interspersed with periods of euphoria
Destructive and self-destructive behaviour:
Doing stupid things:
1. Giving up a good job
2. Breaking up good relationships
4. Becoming dependent on drugs
Biological Implications of Long Term Stress
Stress causes more adrenaline to be supplied to the blood. This leads to an increase in heart rate, pump volume, blood pressure and blood distribution. In the long term, the heart can become overworked if there is a mis-match between blood supply and demand.
If muscles are not conditioned to meet the extra blood supply then changes in blood pressure can damage arteries, leading to a greater likelihood of stroke.
Digestion is put on standby until the emergency is over. Acid can build up in the stomach and products of digestion remain in the bowel, possibly contributing to irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, ulcers, incontinence and cancer of the bowel.
Muscle and Bone
Muscles tense and the body braces itself for action or impact, increasing the chances of muscle cramps, headache, back pain and irregularities in posture.
Nervous System and the Brain
The brain and nervous system respond to stress first by trying to assimilate it and then by trying to accommodate it.
This has important implications for the whole body, including the immune system where susceptibility to illness and psychosomatic symptoms can become common.
Reaction time speeds up or down, giving the impression of aggressive or withdrawn behaviour. Thinking becomes more focused and quicker at the expense of deeper, more sensitive considerations.
Reason gives way to instinctive behaviour. Life patterns change, causing further difficulties as inappropriate responding takes its course.
Many people carry on in the face of adversity, but personal problems, illness, infirmity and disease are accelerated when an imbalance in these (and other) systems is prolonged by unrelenting stress.
1) Set a Relaxed Tone
Give yourself plenty of time and space in the morning. Avoid waking up,
jumping in the shower, throwing on some clothes, and dumping coffee in
your lap while weaving through traffic. If you begin your day burning
adrenaline, you've set the tone for a stressful day where you're
continually running late.
2) Move Your Body
Exercising in the morning provides an energy boost and the warm comfort of
relaxed muscles that lasts throughout the day. You need not do a full
workout; even a few minutes stretching or walking around the block will
make a big difference.
Put a boundary in place to protect you from taking on situations that will
cause you stress. Instead of saying yes to a request when your gut is
screaming NO, say no. Underpromising means giving yourself a cushion for
completing projects and making appointments to avoid the sub-standard work
and stress that come with rushing around to meet a deadline.
Okay, nöw that you've underpromised, you have the opportunity to
overdeliver -- to exceed expectations. For example, tell customers that
you will have a project completed in three days and then deliver it in two
days. Not only have you avoided the stress of a tight deadline, you've
exceeded your client's expectations. As a result, you will feel more
professional because you are acting more professional. When you feel
better about yourself, you'll end up accomplishing more. Consistently.
5) Get away from your workspace for lunch
This noon, remove yourself from your work area and eat slowly. Find a
quiet spot, eat something light, and relax. You will return to your work
re-energized and with a fresh perspective on your work.
6) Clean house
Schedule 10 minutes before you leave each day to maintain your workspace.
File things that need to be filed, delete unimportant e-mails, toss
paperwork you don't absolutely need, and return phone calls you received
that day. You will have completed your day and will have a friendly space
to welcome you to work the next morning.
7) Have something to look forward to each evening
Have something better to do with your evening than the default of zoning
out in front of the TV or doing more work. Prepare a nice meal. Dust off
your guitar or piano. Listen to some music. Talk with a friend. Take a
class. Read a book. Join a club or league. Connect with your family. Learn
something. Build a life.
8) Sleep well
Only 35% of adults sleep the recommended 8 hours or more per night during
the 5-day workweek. It affects you more than you think. Turn off the TV,
put your work away, and get the rest you need. Pleasant dreams!
When to seek Medical Advice:
Stress management isn’t as difficult as it might actually
seem. However, we can’t emphasize this next point enough.
If you think you have too much stress in your life, it may be
helpful to talk with your doctor, spiritual advisor, or local
mental health association.
Because reactions to stress can
be a factor in depression, anxiety and other disorders, they
may suggest that you visit with a psychiatrist, psychologist,
social worker, or other qualified counselor.
Stress is a normal part of life. In small quantities,
stress is good -- it can motivate you and help you be more
productive. However, too much stress, or a strong response
to stress, is harmful.
It can set you up for general poor health as well as
specific physical or psychological illnesses like infection,
heart disease, or depression. Persistent and unrelenting
stress often leads to anxiety and unhealthy behaviors like
overeating and abuse of alcohol or drugs.
One in every eight
Americans age 18-54 suffers from an anxiety disorder. This
totals over 19 million people! Research conducted by the
National Institute of Mental Health has shown that anxiety
disorders are the number one mental health problem among
American women and are second only to alcohol and drug
abuse by men.
Women suffer from anxiety and stress almost twice as
much as men. Anxiety disorders are the most common
mental illness in America, surpassing even depression in
numbers. Anxiety is the most common mental health issue
facing adults over 65 years of age. Anxiety disorders cost
the U.S. $46.6 billion annually. Anxiety sufferers see an
average of five doctors before being successfully diagnosed.
Unfortunately, stress and anxiety go hand in hand. In
fact, one of the major symptoms of stress is anxiety. And
stress accounts for 80 percent of all illnesses either directly
In fact, stress is more dangerous than we thought.
You've probably heard that it can raise your blood pressure,
increasing the likelihood of a stroke in the distant future, but
recently a health insurance brochure claimed that 90 percent
of visits to a primary care physician were stress-related
Health Psychology magazine reports that chronic stress
can interfere with the normal function of the body's immune
system. And studies have proven that stressed individuals
have an increased vulnerability to catching an illness and are
more susceptible to allergic, autoimmune, or cardiovascular
Doctors agree that during chronic stress, the functions
of the body that are nonessential to survival, such as the
digestive and immune systems, shut down. "This is why
people get sick," he says. "There are also many occurrences
of psychosomatic illness, an illness with an emotional or
psychological side to it."
Furthermore, stress often prompts people to respond
in unhealthy ways such as smoking, drinking alcohol, eating
poorly, or becoming physically inactive. This damages the
body in addition to the wear and tear of the stress itself.
If you have panic attacks, it may help to comfort you
that you are not alone! You’re not even one in a million. In
America, it is estimated that almost 5% of the population
suffer from some form of anxiety disorder.
For some, it may be the infrequent panic attacks that
only crop up in particular situations-like when having to
speak in front of others, while, for other people, it can be so
frequent and recurring that it inhibits them from leaving
their home. Frequent panic attacks often develop into what
medical physicians refer to as an “anxiety disorder.”
Mental Techniques to Manage Stress
There are many ways in which to manage stress. Below are some techniques, try some, not all will be suitable or possible for everyone, so see what works for you. Remember what works for one person may not work for another.
By running through a stressful event such as an interview or a speech several times in advance you can polish your performance and build confidence.
By analysing the likely causes of stress, you will be able to plan your responses to likely forms of stress. These might be actions to alleviate the situation or may be stress management techniques that you will use.
It is important that you formally plan for this - it is little use just worrying in an undisciplined way - this will be counter-productive.
Where a situation is likely to be unpleasant, and will not yield any benefit to you, it may be one you can just avoid. You should be certain in your own mind, however, that this is the case.
Reduce the Importance of the Event
If the event seems big, put it in its place along the path to your goals. Compare it in your mind with bigger events you might know of or might have attended. If there is a financial reward, remind yourself that there may be other opportunities for reward later. This will not be the only chance you have. Focus on the quality of your performance.
Focusing on the rewards will only damage your concentration and raise stress. If members of your family are watching, remind yourself that they love you anyway. If friends are real friends, they will continue to like you whether you win or lose.
If people who are important to your goals are watching then remind yourself that you may well have other chances to impress them. If you focus on the correct performance of your tasks, then the importance of the event will dwindle into the background.
Uncertainty can cause high levels of stress. The most effective way of countering this is to ask for the information you need. This might be information on your organisation's performance.
It may involve asking what your employer wants from you in the future, so that you can set the appropriate career development goals. If you are unsure of how you are doing, ask for a performance review. Where instructions are inconsistent or conflicting, ask for clarification.
We are all aware of how particular environments can be very relaxing, while others can be intensely stressful. The principle behind the use of imagery in stress reduction is that you can use your imagination to recreate a place or scene that is very relaxing.
The more intensely you use your imagination to recreate the place or situation, the stronger and more realistic the experience will be.
Use Thought Awareness
Thought awareness is the process by which you observe your thoughts for a time, perhaps when under stress, and become aware of what is going through your head. It is best not to suppress any thoughts - just let them run their course while you observe them.
Once you are aware of your thoughts, write them down and review them rationally. See whether the thoughts have any basis in reality. Often you find that when you properly challenge negative thoughts they are obviously wrong.
Often they persist only because they escape notice. You may find it useful to counter negative thoughts with positive affirmations. You can use affirmations to build confidence and change negative behaviour patterns into positive ones. Physical Relaxation Techniques
These are useful where stress is caused by physical processes in your body: perhaps where muscles are tense, or where you are experiencing the effects of adrenaline.
Hypnosis has a bad reputation, mostly because people misuse its benefits. Hypnosis is merely a state of mind in which:
You are very relaxed
You are paying complete attention to the suggestions you want to implant
You do not criticise the suggestions made, and accept them at face value.
The idea of meditation is to focus your thoughts on one relaxing thing for a sustained period of time. This rests your mind by diverting it from thinking about the problems that have caused stress.
It gives your body time to relax and recuperate and clear away toxins that may have built up through stress and mental or physical activity.
Physical Techniques to Manage Stress
Taking frequent effective exercise is probably one of the best physical stress-reduction techniques available. Exercise not only improves your health and reduces stress caused being unfit, it also relaxes tense muscles and helps you to sleep.
Progressive Muscular Relaxation (PMR) is a purely physical technique for relaxing your body when muscles are tense.
The idea is behind PMR is that you tense up a group of muscles so that they are as tightly contracted as possible. Hold them in a state of extreme tension for a few seconds. Then relax the muscles to their previous state.
Finally you consciously relax them again as much as you can. You can apply PMR to any or all of the muscle groups in your body depending on whether you want to relax just a single area or your whole body.
Deep breathing is a very effective method of relaxation. It is a core component of everything from the 'take ten deep breaths' approach to calming someone down, right through to yoga relaxation and Zen meditation.
It works well in conjunction with other relaxation techniques such as Progressive Muscular Relaxation, relaxation imagery and meditation to reduce stress.
Strictly speaking, biofeedback systems are tools to aid relaxation as opposed to stress management techniques. Biofeedback systems use electronic sensors to measure stress, and then feed the results of this measurement back to you. This feedback may take the form of movement of a pen on a graph plotter, or may be by the pitch of sound coming through earphones.
Reducing Long Term Stress
Time Management is a set of related practical skills that help you to use your time in the most effective and productive way possible.
Time management helps you to reduce work stress by being more in control of your time and by being more productive. This ensures that you have time to relax outside work.
The central shift of attitude within time management is to concentrate on results, not on activity. To this end it embraces a range of skills that help you to:
Assess the value of your time, and how effectively you are using it
Focus on your priorities so that you know which tasks should be done, which ones can be delegated, and which ones can be dropped
Plan projects so that they are done properly, with adequate resources
Use the time you have more effectively
Create more time
Manage and avoid distractions
Increase your productivity and personal effectiveness
Attitude is fundamental to long-term stress management. Where your attitude is negative or hostile, you will create problems out of opportunities and cause stress by alienating and irritating other people.
Where you have a positive attitude, you can maintain a sense of perspective and draw the positive elements out of each situation. You will find that people will be more helpful and co-operative as they find you a pleasure to work with.
Keep things in perspective – work your way through a problem, don’t just see it as huge and overwhelming
Take control of the situation – plan the task ahead, set yourself goals, anticipate problems
Learn to welcome change
Learn to work with other people effectively – being cynical and negative won’t help, take on the task with a positive attitude and watch how others respond.
A good way of reducing long-term stress is to take up an unrushable sport or hobby in your own time. If you spend all your working day competing or stressed, then it can be pleasant to be completely non-competitive for some of your non-work time.
A surprising amount of the stress we may experience on a daily basis is caused by the chemicals we consume. By eating or drinking certain things we can actually put our bodies under chemical stress.
If you eat a good, well-balanced diet then you should be able to minimise this sort of chemical stress. Your body will be receiving all the nutrients it requires to function effectively. As with exercise, there is a lot of bad advice on diet available. You will normally be able to get reliable information on diet from your doctor.
Eliminate Stress From Your Environment
If your living and working environments are badly organised then they can be a major source of stress. If your environment is well organised and pleasant, then it can help to reduce stress and increase productivity.
Remember though that while it may be important for people under stress to have a calm environment, others may enjoy the raised levels of arousal associated with the 'buzz' of a busy office. While the points listed may each contribute only in a small way to creating a more pleasant environment, taken together they can have a significant effect in reducing stress.
Self Care strategies for Living with stress management
TREATING THE SYMPTOMS
The trouble with this method when it comes to healthcare is that there's a reason we became sick in the first place - we let our immune systems get run down enough that when there's a cold going around, our systems aren't strong enough to fight it off. We can treat the cold symptoms, but if we don't do something to build our immune systems back up again, we'll simply come down with the next cold we're exposed to after that - and the one after that.
Stress is much the same. Taking a stress supplement to help us manage our stress is much like taking cold medication to manage a cold. It will usually relieve the symptoms of stress - but unless the cause is treated, the stress will only end up manifesting in other ways. The question, of course, is how to treat stress. If you have a cold, you know that the best ways to build your immune system back up are to eat healthily and rest enough. But what about stress?
THE STRESS PROCESS REVISITED
Perhaps unsurprisingly, resting and eating well go a long way in helping you to manage your stress too! But because stress is partly mental and emotional, there are far more options available. It's helpful here to go back to the 3-part stress process we mentioned back in Issue 1 of Optimum Stress News. Stress, you'll remember, happens when someone:
1. Becomes aware of being exposed to a specific situation (past, present or future),
2. Believes the situation is beyond their current ability to cope with, and then
3. Has a number of physical, mental and emotional responses triggered
STRESS MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES
Stress management strategies can be aimed at any of these points. For example, we can:
. avoid the stressful situation altogether, or reduce our exposure to it
. work on our ability to deal with the situation - learn new skills to help us manage it better . work on our beliefs about the situation
. learn to consciously manage the responses that are triggered
. increase our resiliency to stress damage by ensuring we have full resource banks (most supplements are a part of this approach)
The best method to use to manage your individual stress response will depend completely on your situation. Sometimes avoiding the situation is the quickest and easiest way to manage it - other times it will be completely inappropriate. Research suggests that taking a combination approach will often get far better results than any one approach on its own. If you're not sure which method (or combination) will work best for you, consider speaking to a stress management coach - that's what they're trained to help with!
SUPPLEMENTING AS PART OF A STRATEGY
None of which is to say that stress supplements don't work. There's a fair amount of evidence - research and anecdotal - to show that they can. But if you want to manage your stress instead of simply pushing it down, you need to see supplements as part of an overall stress strategy, rather than as an alternative to one. It may take more time, effort and energy - but the end results in your life will be worth it.
Diet change strategies:
In dealing with stress, the patient should completely change his life style. He should adopt an
optimum diet which should be able to meet the nutritional demands of stress. Such diet should
obviously be made of foods which, in combination , would supply all the essential nutrients.
has been found that a diet which contains liberal quantities of (i) seeds, nuts and grains, (ii)
vegetables, and (iii) fruits would provide an adequate amount of all the essential nutrients. Each
of these food groups should roughly form the bulk of one of the three meals. These three basic
health -building foods should be supplemented with certain special foods such as milk,
vegetable oils and honey.
There are many foods which are helpful in meeting the demands of stress and should be taken
regularly by the patient. These are yogurt, blackstrap molasses, seeds, and sprouts. Yogurt is
rich in vitamin A, B complex and D. It relieves insomnia, migraine and cramps associated with
Blackstrap molasses, a by-product of sugar refining process, is rich in iron and B
vitamins. It guards against anaemia and is good for heart diseases. Seeds such as alfalfa,
sunflower, and pumpkin and sprouts are rich in calcium and quite effective as deterrents of
listlessness and anxiety. Steam cooked vegetables are best as boiling causes many vitamins
and minerals to be dispelled into the water.
The leaves of holy basil, known as tulsi in the vernacular, are highly beneficially the treatment of
stress. They are regarded as adaptogen or antistress agents. Recent studies have shown that
the leaves protect against stress significantly. It has been suggested that even healthy persons
should chew 12 leaves of basil twice a day, morning and evening for preventing stress.
Certain nutrients are beneficial in relieving stress. These are vitamins A and B, minerals such as
calcium, potassium and magnesium which reduce the feeling of irritability and anxiety. Vitamin A
is found in green and yellow vegetables. Some of the valuable sources of vitamin B are
cashews, green leafy vegetables, yeast, sprouts and bananas.
An element of vitamin B complex,
pantothenic acid is especially important in preventing stress. It has a deep effect on the adrenal
glands and the immune system and adequate amount of this vitamin along with vitamin A can
help prevent many of the changes caused by stress.
Potassium deficiencies are associated with breathlessness, fatigue, insomnia and low blood
sugar. Potassium is essential for healthy heart muscles. Nuts and unrefined grains are good
sources of potassium. Calcium is a natural sedative. Deficiencies can cause fatigue,
nervousness and tension. Dairy products, eggs, almonds, and soyabeans are rich sources of
Magnesium is known as nature’s tranquiliser and is associated with the prevention of
heart attack. Deficiencices may lead to excitability, irritability, apprehension and emotional
disorders. Magnesium is also necessary for absorption of calcium and potassium and is found in
many fruits, vegetables, seeds, dates and prunes.
There are certain foods which are associated with stress and anxiety and should be scrupulously
avoided by patients. These foods are caffeine and many soft drinks, which causes nervousness,
irritability and palpitation ; salt which has been associated with heart diseases; cigarettes which
cause tension, irritability and sleeplessness and which have been linked with cancer, and
alcohol which depletes vitamins of B group consider essential for reducing stress.
Regular physical exercise plays an important role in the fight against stress. Exercise not only
keeps the body physically and mentally fit, it also provides recreation and mental relaxation. It is
nature’s best tranquiliser. One can jog, run, walk or play games, depending upon one’s liking.
Walking is the simplest and safest exercise. One should take a brisk walk for 45 minutes or so
Recreation and rest are equally important and patient should set a definite time for recreational
activities. They should also take a holiday at regular intervals. And above all, they should
simplify their lifestyles to eliminate unnecessary stress.
Vitamin & Nutrient Associations
Stress is unavoidable in our busy world. You can limit the amount of everyday stress you have by developing calming methods and through exercise. Some stress is dealt with through prescription medication. Herbal treatments can be very beneficial, but consult with your physician first if you are already taking medication.
• Siberian Ginseng – This herb helps boost the health of the adrenal glands, helping the body resist stress-related illnesses. It can also improve mental alertness. It is safe to be used as part of a daily regime. Take in capsule form following the directions.
• Panax Ginseng – This type of ginseng improves the body’s ability to cope with stress. Used as a tonic, it is thought of as a fortification tonic. It is most often taken in capsule form. Herbal practitioners recommend using for two weeks at a time followed by a one-week rest before starting again. Do not take if you have high blood pressure, and do not combine with caffeine.
• Schisandra – Commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine, these berries can be used as a general tonic that helps counter stress and fatigue. It also helps increase mental function. Take up to six 580-milligram capsules per day.
• Kava-Kava – The root of this herb helps calm nerves without side effects associated with prescription medication. It is typically used in capsule form. Do not take with prescription drugs or alcohol, and do not drive while taking this herb as it acts like a sedative.
• St.-John’s-Wort- A common treatment for anxiety and depression, it is also useful in treating the symptoms of stress. Studies have shown that it is as effective as Prozac and other anti-depressants. It is commonly taken as a tea and is also available in capsule form. Do not take with prescription anti-depressants unless instructed to do so by a doctor.
Even when we try to eat well, we're disadvantaged. The nutritional content of most food has been compromised over the years, not only by deficient soils and modern production, transportation, storage and processing methods, but also by the enormous amounts of chemical and artificial substances added to promote growth, storage life, taste and appearance.
It's for this reason that more and more medical authorities are advocating the use of vitamin and mineral supplements. However, finding them in the right combination can be both confusing and costly.
The nutrition products I am going to recommend you make use of knowledge gained from the botanical world's 6,000 year history. They incorporated health building nutritional herbs with the best modern technology to help our bodies cleanse and detoxify so that the cells - the tiniest living units - can be as fully nourished as possible.
This allows the cells to grow, repair and to perform their functions with the best possible efficiency so that we feel and look better and are more able to prevent and fight disease. Once the body begins to clear itself of toxins it can more efficiently absorb nutrition.
Further reading through our articles on health issues will give you a body of information that will help you decide what options you have to deal with the underlying causes of your problem through giving your body the nutrition products that will assist you body to heal from the inside out.
We wish you well in your search for solutions to this problem and your movement towards better health in all areas.
More Resources available about stress management :
Free Report Reveals How To Successfully Wipe Out All Traces of Harmful Stress From Your Life in the Shortest Time You Never Thought Was Possible!
Hypnosis then, is a safe, relaxing state in which we can let go the tensions in and around us for a short period, and in which, if we desire it, a skilled therapist can guide us through the stages of investigation, discovery, planning and repair we may need. (To read the rest of this article click on the Title above here.)
A to Z of Stress Management Always take time for yourself, at least 30 minutes per day
Be aware of your own stress meter: know when to step back and cool down
Concentrate on controlling your own situation, without controlling everybody else (To read the rest of this article click on the Title above here.)
Because work is a paid endeavor, and the time allotted for it is regular and measured, a lot of people say the routine is what bothers them – in addition to the gnarly boss, the file pile-ups, and the gossip-mongering co-workers. (To read the rest of this article click on the Title above here.)
What is Teenage Stress? It has often been said that the teenage years are the "bestyears of your life". However, anyone who says that does not remember what it is like being a teenager.
school, life, parents, friends, and the fact that all of
them want all of your time, there is no way to get away
from the petty concerns and strains that can lead to
serious stress. (To read the rest of this article click on the Title above here.)
Changes in hormones prepare a person to either stay and deal with a stressor or to take flight/run away. This immediate state of alarm is when the body prepares to take action, and in this state a person will be extremely alert to their surroundings but also very anxious and possibly unable to concentrate. (To read the rest of this article click on the Title above here.)
STRESS MANAGEMENT TIPS Here are an additional 12 keys to stress reduction to help you open the door to a more relaxing life. They contain dozens of additional helpful hints. Choose those best suited for you. (To read the rest of this article click on the Title above here.)
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Below here are examples of Health Success Results other people have had with using a self care strategy for dealing with stress management:
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Top Tips for Reducing Stress There's not a single person on earth without stress. Stress is as natural as breathing, whether it's a major crisis or some minor issue. That's why we …
We often cope better with our problems and life stresses by talking to and sharing our feelings with other people.
This may be as simple as talking to your partner or best friend. Other people may find regular sessions with a psychiatrist, social worker or psychologist helpful.
If your organisation has a problem with stressed workers, then perhaps a Stress Management Consultant should be enlisted. Generally though, the following services are available:
Your local GP
Local Community Health Centre (see ‘Community Health Centres in White Pages)
Psychologist, contact the Australian Psychological Association Referral Service on 1800 333 497
Psychiatrist, via referral from your GP
Telephone Counselling (eg. Lifeline 131 114, Salvo Careline 02 9331 6000)
Look under Counselling in the Yellow Pages
Mental Health Information Service: (02) 9816 5688,1800 674 200 (for services in your area)
LowerYourStress.com: for everything to do with stress. Get
a free ebook to help with your stress levels:
Personal coach Dr. Drew Rozell holds you accountable for making the
changes that allow you to live a very cool life. Meet him at
There are a number of websites devoted to stress and stress management.
Most even have quick tests you can take to see if you are stressed! They are a great source of information and referral on stress and stress related illnesses.
www.psychwww.com/mtsite/smpage.html - Mind Tools
www.stresstips.com - Directory of Stress Management Resources
Type Stress Management into a search engine. Sources of Information
Are You Expecting? (1995) Orman, M.C.
www.psychwww.com/mtsite/smpage.html - Mind Tools
www.stresstips.com - Directory of Stress Management Resources
Dinosaur Brains : Dealing With All Those Impossible People at Work Albert J. Bernstein / Paperback / Published 1996
Freeze-Frame : One Minute Stress Management : A Scientifically Proven Technique for Clear Decision Making and Improved Health Doc Childre(Editor), Bruce Cryer (Editor) / Paperback / Published 1998
Guide to Personal Happiness Albert Ellis, Irving Becker / Paperback / Published 1986
Instant Calm Paul Wilson Penguin Published 1995
Lighten Up : Survival Skills for People Under Pressure C.W. Metcalfe, et al / Paperback / Published 1993
Managing People During Stressful Times : The Psychologically Defensive Workplace Seth Allcorn, Michael A. Diamond / Hardcover / Published 1997
Managing Stress in a Changing World Susan Balfour / Paperback / Published 1998
Stress Blasters: Quick and Simple Steps to Take Control and Perform Under Pressure (Men's Health Life Improvement Guides) Brian Chichester(Contributor), et al / Paperback / Published 1997
Stress Counseling : A Rational Emotive Behavior Approach Albert Ellis(Editor), et al / Paperback / Published 1997
Stress for Success James E. Loehr, Mark McCormack / Paperback / Published 1998
Stress Management for Busy People (Busy People) Carol A. Turkington, David H. Barlow / Paperback / Published 1998
Stress in Teachers; Past, Present, and Future Jack Dunham(Editor), Ved Varma (Editor) / Paperback / Published 1998
Stress : Living and Working in a Changing World George Manning, et al/Paperback/ Published 1999
Stress Management Depression and Overcoming Addictions Linda Rector Page, et al / Paperback / Published 1997
Surviving Your Boss : How to Cope With Office Politics and Get on With Your Job Ann D. Clark, Patt Perkins (Contributor) / Paperback / Published 1996
The Truth About Burnout : How Organizations Cause Personal Stress and What to Do About It Christina Maslach, Michael P. Leiter (Contributor) / Hardcover / Published 1997
The Stress of Life Hans Selye / Paperback / Published 1978
The Type E* Woman; How to Overcome the Stress of Being *Everything to Everybody Harriet B. Braiker / Published 1986
Time Well Spent : Stress Management for Business and Health Larry Tobin / Paperback / Published 1989
Working Safe : How to Help People Actively Care for Health and Safety E. Scott Geller / Paperback / Published 1996
Working With Difficult People Muriel Solomon / Paperback / Published 1990
MENTAL HEALTH INFORMATION SERVICE
Tel: (02) 9816 5688
Tel: 1800 674 200
(Outside Sydney Metropolitan Areas)
Weekdays: 9.30pm - 4.30pm
Largest information data base of government and non-government mental health services in NSW
Extensive range of mental health publications & videos
Mutual support & self help groups
Referral for a wide range of mental health services
Friendship House, Library & Resource Centre (open to the public 9.30am - 4.30pm Monday-Friday, closed Wednesday 9.00am –12.00 pm)
Herbal Remedies For Anxiety Have Traditionally Included the Following...
CATNIP, tea has soothing effect, relieves panic attacks.
FENNEL, tea relieves gastrointestinal upset.
KAVA, tincture or capsules help minimize panic attacks.
HOPS, relaxing effect on nervous system.
MOTHERWORT , tincture helps stabilize emotions, has calming effect.
PASSIONFLOWER, used in tea or as tincture to stop panic attacks.
SKULLCAP , tincture or capsules help relax and nourish nervous system and induce sleep.
ST. JOHN'S WORT, tincture helps restore emotional stability and ease depression.
VALERIAN, tincture or capsules aid sleep and reduce panic attacks at night.
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