How to Deal With Stress
Winning The War With Stress
Have you heard the phrase "stress leads to stress leads to more stress leads to more stress leads to depression"? I have. It's stressful I tell you specially when you're reviewing for the board exams. But it also reminds me that this stress, if not helped, can lead to more serious conditions. Hypertension, Peptic Ulcer, Bolimia, and some cancers have stress as one of its common denominator.
A change in attitude and outlook could also arise from stress. There's a rise in hormones, rise in blood pressure, in heart rate, and other biological processes that contribute to the psychological and thus social attributes of humans. Don't you notice how people whose have problems at work become cranky when they get home?
So, the question is "how do I deal with it?" Here are some tips to fight stress:
1. Know what is causing your stress. Pain could be one. Or too much work. My board exam was at that time.
2. If possible, eliminate whatever is causing your stress.For instance if your stressor comes from a financial difficulty, you may try to decrease spending, or perhaps do an alternative like buying clothes every other month instead of every month, or perhaps buying a cheaper brand of shoes, or having a garage sale, etc. As for me, I my stress was mainly from the preparations for the board exam. So, I gave myself a day each week to go to the parlor or get a massage or even go to the mall. It helped me unwind and I had allowed myself to become ready for another week's battle. Would you believe I went to have a facial treatment, hot oil treatment, manicure and pedicure services and a nice hair cut the day prior to the exam?
Pray. It is so powerful to unload your stress with God knowing that He is bigger than your biggest problem. Meditate and read the bible.
3. Relax. That easier said than done right? but here are some ways for you to have the much needed rest:
a. Breathing exercises. Take a deep breaths through the nose. hold your breath for about 3 to 4 seconds. Release it slowly through your pursed lips, taking a longer time exhaling than inhaling.
b. Try some gentle aromatherapy massage in a dimly lit room and play some soft music. Combine eucalyptus with lavender and peppermint for a more soothing effect. apply some of these oils on your pillows and on the bed. But don't use to much of it. A strong smell will not be of any help to you. The best one I've ever had was when my husband gifted me with a gift certificate to the spa. I stayed there for 4 hours and it made me feel really good.
c. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
With eyes closed, lie (or sit) comfortably. Tense the muscles on your forehead and relax it slowly,feeling how the body part gets really heavy. Then, relax all your muscles gradually working on from your forehead down to your toes feeling the tension move away. Inhale slowly and deeply and exhale much slower while relaxing your muscles. It is good to have some aromatherapy (an oil diffuser with a drop each of peppermint, eucalyptus and lavander are best for me) soft relaxing music, dim light and possibly with air conditioning on. Do guided imagery to help with relaxing.
d. Guided Imagery
Imagine anything that makes you feel relaxed. For instance, imagine yourself by the lake while the birds chirp. As for me, I prefer to imagine myself in a hammock in Yosemite park, with a gentle, cool breeze and the sound of chirping birds. The trick is to imagine everying - the more vivid the better. If you imagine snow your body feels cooler even on a hot summer day. That's how powerful the mind is.
e. Distract yourself from your stress.
You can do something else that will keep your mind away from the cause of your stress. You may dance or sing, or read, or listen to a favorite soft music, or look at pictures of you when you were little, etc. Drawing is a good form of relaxation.
f. Sleep. Set a time to sleep every night and stick to it. Put your mind in a relaxed state and get some rest. Count sheep, but do it slowly. Take a warm chamomile tea and get ready for bed 1 hour before you intend to hit the sack. A cup of warm milk with a tablespoon of sesame seeds taken before bed seems to help get a restful sleep. Play some soft music preferably classical and lie down. I like playing Kenny Rankin or Placido Domingo.
g. Find a support group. Your friends, your family, your officemates or those who have the same problems as you do. For diabetic patients for instance, there are organizations of diabetic people who meet on a regular basis to uplift each other, share their problems, their goals. Cancer patients have their own groups too. So do people with other illnesses and problems. It is fortunate that I come from a closely knit family and they are there to support me.
h. Be beautiful. If that means going for a haircut, a facial or just put on makeup do it. If there's some money to spend why not get a nice shirt or a new lipstick? Being beautiful just means feeling good about your self and the way you look. I usually talk to my self in front of the mirror in the shower and smile and say "hey, beautiful. You look good today." and then I strike a nice pose and then go out.
i. Eat and Drink. Drink Kefir. It has tryptophan which can actually help you sleep and relax. For me, water kefir works better as it makes me nicely warm and sleepy. Eat chocolate as it is said to release tensed muscles. Try the relaxing herbs. One that I like is the infusion of peppermint, chamomile and lemon balm. Other herbs to try are basil, ginger and kava-kava. Take a tsp of fresh herbs and steep in freshly boiled water. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. You can take it warm or cold.
5. Engage in some activity. Swim, go for a badminton game, watch a movie, or even go on a trip. Just don't forget to arrange things first before you leave and go back to what you were doing after the activity. It will just add more stress to you when you find things are piled up when you get back.
The key, if you have noticed, is actually to go back to the basics - exercise, get enough rest, eat a proper diet. Add to these is have a relationship - relationship with a spiritual being, relationship with others.
I hope this helps.
A Guided Imagery Exercise
A Christian Guided Imagery Exercise
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