Friday, January 11, 2008
How Can Stress Be Relieved?
Stress relief tips: you can learn to manage bad stress by making a committment and doing one or two of these tips.
Stress can act as a motivator or energizer. Too much of bad stress can cause medical and social problems. Because the body responds to stress physically, bad stress causes the “fight or flight” reaction. The body changes, prepares to either confront the challenge or flee from it. Stress releases adrenaline (the stress hormone), heart rate increases, breathing quickens and blood pressures rises. The liver increases output of sugar and blood flow is diverted to the brain and large muscles. Symptoms of stress include, feeling anxious, feeling scared, irritable or moody. Stress affects thoughts. Thoughts of low self-esteem, fear of failure, inability to concentrate, worrying about the future, preoccupation with thoughts/tasks and forgetfulness can be present. Stress affects behavior. It can cause stuttering and other speech difficulties, bouts of crying for no apparent reason, laughing in a high pitch or nervous tone of voice, increased accident prone behavior, overeating, under eating and increased use of drugs and alcohol.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 80% of health care is spent on stress related disorders. These ailments include hypertension, migraine, headaches, ulcers, anxiety, allergies, asthma, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Constant, chronic stress can also suppress the immune system thereby making the body more susceptible to disease, even the common cold and flu.
Major life events or changes are the greatest contributors of stress in most people. These events place the highest demands on resources for coping. On most life stress evaluation tools, the top ten stressors in life are
-Death of a spouse
-Death of a Close Family Member
-Personal Injury or Illness
-Loss of Job
Below are tips for reducing stress and managing the stresses in every day life.
Breathe Deeply – Inhale deeply through your nose. Pull the air all the way down, deep into the lungs. Hold the breath for a count of six. Exhale slowly through the mouth to the count of six. Do this for several minutes. Be careful not to hyperventilate. If dizzy or light-headedness occur, begin breathing naturally.
Express Feelings and Thoughts - Call a friend. Join a group. Join a community on the Internet. If you feel these avenues are not helping talk to your doctor, seek out a counselor. Use all resources after through work, church and community. If seeing a counselor is something you’re fearful of, consider getting a pet. Pets listen very well.
Make Time for Relaxation and Fun – Find an activity that makes you feel good. It may be dancing, listening to music, walking along the beach, prayer, hiking in the mountains, working in the garden, taking photographs, watching birds, going to the movies, golfing, swimming, visiting museums. Make a list of activities that give you joy. Break them down into time segments of 2-5 minutes, 5-20 minutes, 30 minutes to ½ day and ½ day or longer. List the activities that give you joy under these time segments. Do at least three of them everyday. Most people think they have to do big things, such as vacations of whole days away from work or home to relieve stress. Not so, small activities that give you joy are the best stress busters.
Exercise - Try something new, like swimming. Begin a walking program. Do some form of exercise that interests you. Make sure to consult your physician beforehand.
Laugh - Laughter is a great way to relieve stress. If you find something funny, have a good belly laugh. Watch funny movies. Read funny stories.
Learn Happy Talk - Humor your stress. Go to www.stressed.com for a class in happy talk.
Get Rid of Negative - Take a hard look at the circle or environment you’re standing in. People who are negative and prone to “moods” spread negativity to others. Learn to say no to negativity and remove yourself from it whenever possible.
Write – Write out your complaints or troubles. Writing is no substitute for professional help but it does allow you to vent your feelings and frustrations. By writing with pen in hand or at the keyboard, you may discover an insight or solution to whatever is frustrating or bothering you.
Get A Massage – Make an investment in yourself. Massage therapy can relax muscles, easy muscle spasm, increase blood flow to skin and muscles and relieve mental and emotional stress. A massage will be one of the best investments you’ve ever made.
Be Realistic in Expectations– Don’t expect everyone to be like you or behave to your code of “shoulds and oughts”. Don’t expect to be right all the time. Don’t expect harmony all the time. Real life has conflicts in it. Be willing to confront conflict, state your needs then work at coming to a mutual compromise.
Examine your expectations of yourself - When you can’t live up to them, they will cause stress, tension and pressure. Learn to say no when unrealistic demands are placed upon you. Communicate what you can do and what you can’t do clearly. Be honest with yourself on the expectations (goals) you place on yourself. Don’t let ego and social pressure force you into being/doing something your not.
Monitor Your Communication Skills – Aggressive and hostile communication with others antagonizes and alienates. Assertive training can help you learn to express your needs without offending others or feeling ignored.
You can only change yourself - Work to grasp the full meaning of this statement. Trying to change another person causes stress to both parties. It can ruin relationships, damage relationships and cause others to withdraw from you. If you make statements such as – if only he, if only she, if only they – then you need to look in the mirror and say, what can I change about myself to make the situation better.
Accept - If you can’t leave a situation that is causing you extreme stress then accept it as it is. Adjust your approach to it. Look for ways to see positive things. Do not dwell on the negative. Above all, if the situation is abusive, either physically or emotionally (this includes work situations also) seek professional help through counseling.
Stress will not suddenly disappear in modern day life. It will remain even increase. To reduce and manage stress takes a commitment to do so. Make a commitment to practice or do anyone of the following tips and chances are stress levels will begin to fall to a range where it is manageable and causes no long-term damage to health or relationships.