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Stress: A Valuable Report

We all know the affects of stress. Our bodies begin to exhibit symptoms which are stress-related. How do you know when something is wrong? Here are some examples of what happens when we are overstressed.

Irritability
Tension headaches
Heart palpitations
Inability to focus on the task at hand
Rise in blood pressure, which may cause sudden outbursts of anger
Inability to sleep
Sudden pension for food
Lethargy
Neck and shoulder pain
Fright and flight syndrome
Anxiety attacks
Restlessness

These are just some of the symptoms. Your body is screaming at you to slow down. While there are some who thrive on it to complete a major project at work, after all is said and done they are left totally exhausted. The price paid is too high.

The body is a wonderful machine that instantly alerts you if there is a problem. Ignoring it or attributing it to something else can be a mistake. If you ever find yourself in a stressful situation, walk away. Clear your mind. Take a walk around the block, or play some music at home or in your car. Driving while feeling the pressure of the day's events has been the cause of many accidents due to road rage.

Your body is telling you that if you don’t slow down, you will exact the same toll as if you were in a car accident. Your body will pay the price either through elevated blood pressure leading to a stroke, or cardiovascular problems causing heart attacks.

We live in a stressful environment. However, it doesn’t mean we have to absorb the everyday stresses that are on the outer periphery of our minds.

Avoid Stress

Some say they can’t live with it while others insist they can’t live without it. Either way, it causes serious health issues and should be avoided as much as possible. Here are some suggestions:

Control. If you have an A type personality, odds are you are a perfectionist and therefore, experience angst most of the time. Control only those things you can, and leave the rest to fate.

Negativity. If you surround yourself with negative people or have a negative attitude, you will always be in a stressful mode. Look on the bright side of things; think positive, be confident, empower yourself to drive away all the peripheral factors that bring negativity into your life.

Fear. Fear can cause stress-related health conditions such as anxiety, panic attacks, and the inability to live a normal life. Examine the issues causing the fear by either talking to a friend or a professional.

Sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause mental pressure. Lack of sleep will make you irritable, nervous, lethargic, and unable to perform any task that needs to be done. Ensure you sleep at least 7 to 8 hours a night.

Exercise. Walking, jogging, biking, or running three times a week will keep you healthy and energetic. Add a proper diet as well.

Aromatherapy. Utilizing scented oils at home can achieve calm and relaxation. The use of scented candles or teas such as chamomile, and warm baths of lavender and rose can put you at ease in an instant. Meditation and yoga are great as well.

Positive Thinking. Life has enough problems without your having to worry about inconsequential matters. Develop an attitude that is positive, empowering, and one that inspires others. Laugh as much as you can, as often as you can.

Living a stress-free life may not be easy; if it was, the journey would be encompass a boring road lined with the same views and stepping stones. However, conquering stress can uplift you and make your life more enjoyable and thankful to be a part of it.

Exercise

Exercise is the quintessential method to relieve anxiety. When fully engaged in an exercise program the body releases endorphins in the brain, which induces a natural high and dissipates the stress, leaving you feeling energized and relaxed.

It doesn’t matter what form of exercise you choose, the point is that any type of exercise will achieve the same results. Whether its walking, running, stretching, aerobics, or yoga; your body becomes completely relaxed and able to cope with whatever it is that caused the stress in the first place.

Moreover, exercise is essential for your cardiovascular system. It improves your overall health and along with a diet regimen, can help you maintain a balance within.

Walking for 20 minutes every other day, biking in the park, engaging in aerobic exercises either at home or at the gym are some of the beneficial solutions.

For example, if you are a working mom or dad, walk during your lunch hour every day for 20 minutes before lunch. Sometimes fatigue sets in during the early afternoon, and this is a great way to become energized for the rest of the work day.

If you are working on a project and cannot take a lunch break, take a five minute break and do some stretch exercise in the office. Sitting all day in front of a computer is not healthy, and can cause leg cramps, shoulder and back problems, neck cramps, and clots. Getting up and moving around is essential. Stretching will help relieve the stress that causes these symptoms, and you will be able to finish out the day in a calmer and more relaxed state.

One can always tell when the pressures of life are taking its toll. The body tenses up, muscle aches begin, and irritability becomes your unwanted friend. Exercise, no matter what form, not only makes you feel good but relaxes the body and frees up the mind to be able to concentrate on the tasks at hand.

A Good Night's Sleep

While sleep is the one thing we need, it is the one thing we lack. With all we have to do on a daily basis, sleep is the one pleasure and necessity we look forward to. However, it doesn’t come easily.

One of the problems associated with sleepless nights is that our minds are in overdrive. The problems of the day invade our thoughts and result in a restless sleep. Our dreams play out the problems associated with the day, and we awaken too soon.

According to studies, most everyone should have at least 7 to 8 hours of REM sleep a night. Yet, some of us are lucky to sleep even half those hours, in addition to which the tossing and turning keeps us from enjoying a peaceful slumber.

When you look at a baby or a toddler as they sleep, do you sometimes think, “I wish I can sleep so peacefully.” Feeling stressed wreaks havoc on every part of our life. It not only interrupts our sleeping patterns, but leaves us feeling tired all the time, unable to perform the easiest tasks.

The answer to this problem can be solved by exercise, a proper diet, and letting go of the problems of the day. Trying to maintain control of everything is quite exhausting. Overwork, thinking about the bills, taking care of family; all contribute to the angst which causes lack of sleep. Thus, while shut-eye is recommended for relief, the only way this can be accomplished is to go to bed de-stressed. Quite a problem, isn’t it?

Sleep is essential in relaxing the body, and preparing it for the next day. Therefore, before preparing for bed try meditation, engage in yoga exercises, drink a cup of chamomile tea, or play some soothing music. Sleep will never come if you are overtired or stressed from the day’s events.

It is recommended to go to bed when you are thoroughly tired, otherwise you’ll toss and turn. Ensure you have a comfortable mattress and pillow; keep the lights, radio, and TV off. It is also recommended not to eat anything after 8PM. Any type of snack containing sugar will delay the sleeping process. More importantly, clear your mind of any thoughts of the day or the list of things you have to do tomorrow. Tomorrow will take care of itself.

Following any of these suggestions will allow you to sleep like a baby.

Overeating

Unlike depression, where the ability to eat is dissipated, stress and overeating go hand in hand. You know those days when nothing seems to go exactly as you had planned, so you probably sit down and begin snacking, unaware that you have just finished an entire bag of chips.

Comfort food, while necessary, can become too much of a good thing. Sure, you need to have that piece of chocolate cake once in a while, but when you are stressed out – it seems that nothing will satisfy the hunger, thus the eating binge continues.

Here’s an example. Let’s assume you are working at your computer and you are coming upon a deadline. You may think that a bar of chocolate will keep you going, but the true intent is to somehow relieve the pressure that is building up. While the sugar high may be experienced for a short amount of time, the pressure increases and you need something more substantive. Perhaps you call the local deli and order a deluxe burger and a chocolate milkshake.

While this may bring about calm in the short term, you are adding pounds to your body which in the end will cause more problems as a result of weight gain. Moreover, eating more and exercising less will increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, and in the end, new pressures arise. Now you have two problems to deal with.

The only way to alleviate anxiety and angst is to avoid overeating and exercise. A 20-minute walk can do wonders for your health and your mind. The body will release endorphins which will give you that natural high, and you will not only feel good but will not look to food to solve any problem.

Food is not meant to be the cure-all for any stress-related symptom. You can tell this by the experience you have when overeating. Are you enjoying the food? Does it really make you feel good? Does it take away the problems? Probably not.

While stressing is a fact of life, when it is combined with food you have double trouble. When you are stressed, instead of eating, take a long walk – meditate, engage in a workout that will clear your mind and prevent you from overeating which will ultimately cause more health-related conditions in the long run.

Aromas for Stress Relief

It has been a widely held belief that aromatherapy can calm and soothe most people who are suffering from daily pressures. Some of the best aromas which have been utilized for this very purpose include:

Chamomile, consumed as a tea, is perhaps the most widely known product used to relieve anxiety. Utilized in its oil form, its scent calms and reduces pain as well.

Lavender is also popular oil, which is primarily used in bathing. While it has been known to treat a variety of ailments, its scent is widely used to calm, release tension, and offer a peaceful sleep as well.

If the use of rose petals was good enough for Cleopatra, it is good enough for the rest of us. This essential oil also produces a calm and inner peace. Primarily used in bathing, it has been known to not only alleviate stress, but dissipate depression as well.

Jasmine oil has a scent which is considered the best for treating nervous conditions, combat depression, and overcome sadness.

Sandalwood oil has been known to not only calm the nerves, but rid anyone of those jittery and irritable feelings as well. It is also known to bring one out of a state of depression.

While this oil is primarily used in baking, vanilla is one essential oil which invokes feelings of well-being as well as pleasant memories. It calms, promotes inner peace, and is overall a wonderful scent whose fragrance is known throughout the culinary world.

Any of these scents can be used in baths, candles, teas, or as a condiment in baking. While there are some who plant roses in their garden, or display scented candles throughout the home, aromatherapy does indeed soothe the inner soul and impart calmness and serenity.

Moreover, using any of these essential oils in their purest form is the best way to relieve daily pressures. In fact, there has been an explosion of aromatherapy candles on the market today with various scents.

Cleopatra had the right idea. Take a milk bath and fill it with rose petals. Add a few rose scented candles, and you will feel better than you’ve every felt before.

Women vs Men

Studies have shown that more women suffer from stress-related illness than men. Why? Well one answer is this: “If you need anything done ask a busy woman.”

From the beginning of time, women have been the gatherers. They shop for groceries, cook the meals, clean the home, look after their children, wash the clothes, carpool the kids to and from school, become involved in school activities, join the PTA, work part or full time, and yet for some there seems to be this “it’s all in a day’s work” bias towards women.

There are reasons why there are more stress-related incidents among women more than men. Research indicates that men articulate their feelings more than women. They rant and rave and let out all of the pent up energy. Whereas women internalize; they keep things bottled up inside until it releases itself in a stress-related health condition.

Moreover, most men aren’t home all day taking care of the house and the kids and the cleaning and the shopping. They come home after a day’s work at the office with a meal already prepared. All they have to do is sit down and eat. While they tend to have additional work-related-stress, they deal with it by exercising or engaging in hobbies which take their minds off their problems.

Women rarely have a chance to engage in a hobby, and if they do it is after the children are put to bed. In addition, women, who work part time or full time, especially with young children at home or at day care, have a strong desire to be with the children. Yet, the bills need to be paid and work for them is not a pleasure, but a necessity. Thus, additional pressure is added onto their already busy day.

Recent studies have indicated that more women are working at home than ever before. This gives them ample opportunity to spend quality time with their children, and still be able to work and tend to the home. In most cases, women opt to work in the educational system which allows them to have all holidays off as well as two months in the summer. In addition their hours are limited, and they can spend more time with the kids and take care of the home as well.

Both men and women suffer from daily pressure, but to the degree that women experience stress-related symptoms is certainly understandable considering all they have to do. Perhaps if women were able to externalize their feelings as much as men, there would be less health problems.

However, it seems clear that men need to become more involved in helping out at home. After all, keeping busy is their way of coping with pressures.

Stress-Related Solutions

While stress is the leading cause of serious health conditions, there are ways in which we can alleviate the every day stress in our lives. Here are some stress-relievers you can incorporate into your daily life.

Meditation. Utilize a room in your home that is quiet and void of distractions. Sit on a floor mat with legs folded, back straight, hands palm up on legs. Clear your mind. Begin breathing in and out slowly. Focus only on your breathing. Before you know it, the stress will leave your body and you will become relaxed and energized.

Exercise. Any form of exercise will release endorphins in your brain and alleviate any ongoing pressure. Stretching can relieve angst by engaging in a few exercises in your home. For example, stand with knees slightly bent, arms out-stretched, and then slowly bring your arms in toward your body in a circular motion.

Walking. 20 minutes of walking can create a wonderful and relaxing state of mind. You can literally work off the pressures of the day and feel relaxed and full of energy after a brisk walk. Walking in the park also affords you the opportunity to commune with nature and the environment.

Writing. If you are not into exercise, another way to get rid of whatever is causing inner angst is to keep a daily journal. Write down your thoughts and feelings as a way of releasing the negativity within. It is a catharsis that does dissipate stressful thoughts. Another tried and true method is to write down a stress-induced feeling on a piece of paper and then put it into an ashtray and burn it. Dissolving it into ashes releases the burden.

Music. Music does calm the savage beast. Whether you are driving, at work, or at home, there is nothing that can de- stress more than soothing music. Whether it is classical, instrumental, or sounds of the waves. Utilize this stress-relieving technique as often as you can.

Yoga. There are many forms of yoga available today. There is, however, a new method called Qi Gong (pronounced Chi Gong), which has become very popular. It encompasses slow movements, which allows you to focus on your breathing and relaxes you immediately.

Dancing. This is another reliever which anyone can participate in. Put on your favorite CDs from the 50s or 60s, and dance away. It is not only great for the heart, but the workout alone will energize you and is a fun exercise as well.

Shopping. This may sound a bit odd, but a trip to the mall can be of great help. You become so busy looking at the latest fashions that you forget about you and concentrate on what you can purchase.

Play, Musical, or Opera. Perhaps the one thing you haven’t done is treat yourself to a night on the town. Everyone needs a break once in a while, and either of these forms of entertainment can put you in a great mood immediately.

Tea. Sometimes, making a cup of brewed tea such as chamomile is all you may need. Its properties will calm and soothe you. Have a cup during the day or before going to bed. A peaceful sleep awaits you.

Are There Benefits?

It seems we here the word "stress" more and more every day. With all the new technologies we have, we are constantly bombarded with pressures that basically overload our systems. With no relaxation, this kind of lifestyle can lead to high blood pressure and a whole slew of other health problems.

It may be difficult to believe when we are completely bombarded with daily pressures, but the reaction originally came about as a beneficial response. Early man developed what we call the “flight or fight” instinct in response to stress.

If a person is faced with anxiety, they produce a hormone called adrenaline which helps them either run away from danger or fight back against an attack. Over a longer term, our body produces a hormone called cortisol, which acts the same but lasts much longer.

Even now, angst is still a beneficial and sometimes vital part of our lives. Imagine you’re walking down the street and a car comes barreling towards you. Immediately your body triggers a the flight or fight response, releases adrenaline, and leaves you pumped and ready to jump out of the way of the car. If not for the initial onset, our reactions would remain slow and we probably wouldn’t be able to get out of dangerous situations fast enough.

While too much inner pressure can keep you from accomplishing your goals, small amounts of it can help you accomplish what you need to.

Just take the example of the average college student. They may have all semester to get a paper done, but they’re just finishing up the night before. The reason is that the response may not take over till the last minute.

At this point the body produces cortisol, which helps the student handle the situation and get the paper done. Without the initial onset the problem caused, one might not get anything done. Let’s face it, angst is one of the greatest motivators there is.

The real difference between good pressure, also called eustress, and bad pressure is what we do with the problems we face. If you’re feeling pressure regarding a looming deadline, try to put a positive spin on it. Think “this is making me energized to get my work done well” rather than worrying that it’s just too soon and you just can’t get it done. Let the angst within motivate you, not worry you.

Because of our busy, hectic lives, it’s almost inevitable that we’ll eventually let the problems of the day get to us. While cortisol release is good in the short term, in the long term, it causes serious health problems.

When you feel anxious and pressured, it’s important to take steps to relive the tenseness instead of just stewing. By relaxing ourselves, we stop releasing cortisol and produce calming hormones. Try Yoga, meditation, or aerobic exercise. This will help you control the problem instead of letting it control you.

While you can’t stop all the problems you face on a daily basis, you can live a better life by dealing with stress in a healthy manner.

For more information on how you can relieve stress, please visit: DIY Stress Relief. DIY Stress Relief offers natural, hands-on ways to combat the negative effects of stress on your health.Tips and techniques for inducing relaxation; including meditation, breathing, using essential oils and herbs, as well as massage and other lifestyle tips.

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