Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Control Stress!

Controlling your stress is important to your mental and physical health. 
Unrelenting stress can turn to distress. 
Stress is the body's reaction to any change that requires a physical, mental, or emotional adjustment or response. 
Stress is a normal part of life. 
Many events that happen to you and around you -- and many things that you do to yourself -- put stress on your body. 
Some stress can be good. It keeps us alert, motivated, and ready to avoid danger. But too much stress can make us sick.

How Does Stress Affect Your Health?

The body's autonomic nervous system has a built-in stress response 
that causes physiological changes to allow the body to combat stressful situations. 
This stress response, also known as the "fight or flight response," 
is activated in case of an emergency. 
However, this response can become chronically activated during 
prolonged periods of stress, which can cause wear and tear on the body -- 
both physical and emotional.
Stress that continues without relief can lead to a condition called distress -- a negative stress reaction. Distress can disturb the body's internal balance or equilibrium, 
leading to physical symptoms such as headaches, an upset stomach, 
elevated blood pressure, chest pain, sexual dysfunction, and problems 
sleeping. Emotional problems can also result from distress. 
These issues included depression, panic attacks or other forms of anxiety and worry. 
Research suggests that stress also can bring on or worsen certain symptoms or diseases. Stress is linked to six of the leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide.
Stress also becomes harmful when people engage in the compulsive 
use of substances or behaviors to try to relieve their stress. 
These substances or behaviors may include food, 
alcohol, tobacco, drugs, gambling, sex, shopping, and the Internet. 
Rather than relieving the stress and returning the body to a relaxed state, 
these substances and compulsive behaviors tend to keep the body in a 
stressed state causing more problems. The distressed person becomes
trapped in a vicious circle.

How do you find out the signs of Your Stress?

Chronic stress can wear down the body's natural defenses,
leading to a variety of physical symptoms, including:
  • Dizziness or a general feeling of "being out of it"
  • General aches and pains
  • Grinding teeth, clenched jaw
  • Headaches
  • Indigestion or acid reflux symptoms
  • Increase in or loss of appetite
  • Muscle tension in neck, face or shoulders
  • Problems sleeping
  • Racing heart
  • Cold and sweaty palms
  • Tiredness, exhaustion
  • Trembling/shaking
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Upset stomach, diarrhea
  • Sexual difficulties

Tips to reduce Your Stress:

People can learn to manage stress and lead happier, healthier lives.
Here are some tips to help you keep stress at bay.
  • Keep a positive attitude.
  • Accept that there are events that you cannot control.
  • Be assertive instead of aggressive. Assert your feelings, opinions, or beliefs instead of becoming angry, defensive, or passive.
  • Learn and practice relaxation techniques; try meditation, yoga, or tai-chi.
  • Exercise regularly. Your body can fight stress better when it is fit.
  • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
  • Learn to manage your time more effectively.
  • Set limits appropriately and say no to requests that would create excessive stress in your life.
  • Make time for hobbies and interests.
  • Get enough rest and sleep. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events.
  • Don't rely on alcohol, drugs, or compulsive behaviors to reduce stress.
  • Seek out social support. Spend enough time with those you love.
  • Seek treatment with a psychologist or other mental health professional trained in stress management or biofeedback techniques to learn more healthy ways of dealing with the stress in your life. 
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