Manage Stress Daily for Better Health
What is Stress?
Unless you are dead, your body reacts to stress.
Even in death. the body decays, which is a reaction to the effects (stresses) of its surroundings. Stress is anything external or internal that exerts some sort of pressure on your body and mind.
We cannot get away from stress 100%. A yogi can reduce his heart rate to 1 beat per minute, but this is still stress. We need certain types of stresses in order to live. If we have too much stress beyond our individual thresholds, we can find it deadly.
Gravity Is the First Stress
The stress of gravity keeps our bones hard, so that's why exercise is important. Still, gravity is stress and on the moon, there is less of it.
However, if certain physicians fulfill their dreams to install a chronic un-treatable hypertensive's clinic on Luna, the patients will never be able to return to earth. This is because their blood pressures will skyrocket as they return to Earth. Massive strokes and heart attacks may occur on the return trip, because of the G-forces required to renter our plant's gravitational field.
Gravity can be good and bad, and so can many other sources of stress. We need to learn to manage bad stresses because we cannot get away from them entirely.
Even though we cannot escape all stress, we can lessen their load on us. One thing we can do is to innoculate ourselves against stress regularly - every day, without even using a needle.
Stresses and stress sources grow during the teen years and accumulate throughout the life span. In the film "Inside Out", we see that children discover a limited number of emotions, but as teens, they seem to find dozens of them, all subject to the effects of stress.
Kermit and Will Rogers Institute's Teens & Stress
Seven Steps To Stress Innoculation
Make a personal Stress Inoculation Checklist and use it every day, or hang it up where you will be sure to see it on a daily basis, either at the start or end of the day.
You may have several other entries to add, or you may want to begin with just one or two of the steps below and gradually add others.
1. Use a Reasonable Schedule.
Using a daily schedule, leave empty spaces in it to ensure that you will not be over-booked, and do not be a slave to the telephone and the email. Recognize the times you need help and ask for it, where it is at work, at school, at home, or elsewhere. Eliminate needless, unfulfilling, time-wasting activities.
If you're running a business or have a lot of face-to-face appointments in your work or schooling, even if you write all day, make a schedule to answer phone calls and email like this:
- At the beginning of the workday,
- After lunch,
- At the end of the workday.
Return these communications on the same type of schedule, unless it is a real emergency. Stick to the schedule, but be aware that others will try to bully you out of it. You may have to compromise at times with your boss and some others, but not the majority of the time. Eliminate inappropriate interactions.
And remember: You are not a better person if you always do the work of two people and are always over-booked. You are fine already without that!
Often, this will not earn you a promotion, but grind you into the ground while others earn the promotions. Extra work occasionally or on special projects is fine; too much all the time is a symptom of a problem.
2. Sleep Enough.
Stress causes a lack of sleep and lack of sleep causes stress. How bad is that?!
Determine and accept the number of hours of sleep you need to function at your best while you are awake. Stick to it as much as possible.
Trouble sleeping? - Relax before going to bed by listening to music, reading, or performing deep breathing and light stretching exercises. Avoid the caffeine and alcohol at bedtime. If you are taking prescribed medications, ask your doctor if any of them alone or in partnership could be the culprit(s).
3. Eat Healthier Foods.
Poor nutrition is a stressor, while stress itself can cause nutritional problems.
The larger the overall stress, the more good nutrition is needed. Proteins, B-Complex vitamins, A & C vitamins, magnesium and other elements and factors are used up as the body enters "fight or flight" status, unless one has been mentally and physically trained to avoid the flight-or-flight response.
Skipping meals too often, eating unhealthy snack foods, using too much caffeine, and gorging or binging on food create additional stresses.
Eating one candy bar will reduce your immune system's function for 24 hours.
Poor eating overall results in
- Blood sugar problems,
- Reduced immune response,
- Fatigue, and
- Mental health issues.
Stop these problems before they begin with good food and enough healthy beverages every day.
4. Take Breaks.
Breaks are not "being lazy."
You lose productivity over the course of a few hours, whether you believe it or not. You are not a better person because you do not take breaks. You are fine and don't have to prove how un-lazy you are.
I had an acquaintance that prided (that was the problem) herself in not taking breaks and not using the bathroom at her job for the full nine hours of work every day. She later died after total loss of bladder control for several years and a dozen stress-related conditions and illnesses.
So, do something relaxing and fun for a short break. Ten minutes away from any stressful situation can work wonders, because while you are in that stress you are "stuck in a loop." Break that bondage. Take time to laugh as well. Remember something funny that Alton Brown did - or Jerry Lewis or Bernie Mac, or your neighbor or a child.
And remember - Some others will not like you so much for taking breaks because you are taking care of yourself. Do so anyway.
5. Move Around a Bit and Exercise!
A large survey for US Healthy People 2000 goals found that most people in the 1980s to 1990s felt that no one should exercise over the age of 30 and women should not exercise at all. Many felt that no one should exercise after high school graduation.
What!? Yes, that is how Americans felt.
The more limber, flexible, and strong you are, the better you can handle stress.
Exercise is itself also relieves stress. The more stress, the more you need exercise. You can be physically challenged and still exercise, even it is finger or tow exercises. If unable to move, we have passive exercise for you. for an explanation see this link: Fat Burning Exercises.
Paralyzed actor Christopher Reeve had begun to move his hands and legs again but died, because he could not move enough, quickly enough, to fight off infections. So keep moving or you may gradually find yourself stuck, unmovable.
Further, the brain releases substances called "endorphins" during laughter, during exercise, and during sex that increase the general well being and decrease. Exercise increases circulation to wash toxins out of your body as well. Exercise can accomplish a lot, as in Michelle Obama's Let's Move program.
6. Declutter Your Living Area.
Clutter raises the blood pressure and feelings of depression in some people. For others, it causes or raises anxiety levels. It provides a sense of imbalance and crowding.
Set a timer for 10 minutes and clean a small spot of clutter. Do this once a day for a week and see how much you have accomplished. Continue in this manner and skip a day a week. I do this all the time and have nearly beat clutter. Recycle whatever you can of the clutter and purchase eco-friendly products and services.
7. Say Something Good!
A negative comment to you or from you will reduce your own immune system's strength for 24 hours. A positive comment will increase it for 48 hours (References: Ohio State University Hospitals, Ohio State Bureau of Workers Compensation, Rehabilitation Division/Health Psychology Unit).
Learn to deal with anger and to solve problem situations, if you have not already done so. Then start of a log of Beautiful Things or events you see or hear about and put something into it every day. Read through it to remind yourself of joy.
Ziglar's humorous tapes can make a difference, I find, even if I listen to one only a few times a week.
This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2008 Patty Inglish MS