Address the Stress in Your Life
By Pat Curry, HealthScoutNews.
stock market has been sliding south for months. Corporate downsizing
has reared its ugly head again. Credit card debt is surging.
the American Psychological Association was moved to say that stress
is at an all-time high -- and that was before the terrorist
attacks earlier this month.
the national crisis, workers, homemakers, students, even children
were struggling with stress loads that would have been unimaginable
to earlier generations.
The APA says
75 percent to 90 percent of all doctor visits are for stress-related
conditions. Stress can cause high blood pressure, headaches, an
irritable bladder and bowel, sleeping and eating disorders, and
problems with memory and concentration. And stress has been linked
to the six leading causes of death -- heart disease, cancer, lung
ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide, according
to the APA.
though: Some stress isn't necessarily a bad thing. Experiencing
the birth of a child, completing a tough task at work, helping
a loved one grieve the death of a spouse, for instance, can help
make life more rewarding.
But too much
stress can be dangerous to your psychological and physical health.
can enhance our performance to a point. When we lose the ability
to adapt to stress, that's when we have problems," says Dr.
David Baron, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral
Science at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia.
To cope with
stress, there are measures -- physical and psychological -- you
can take to help yourself.
On the physical
side, Baron recommends three simple steps: Eat a balanced diet,
exercise regularly, and get a good night's sleep. Also, keep an
eye on how much coffee you drink -- researchers have used caffeine
in studies to bring on panic attacks. And limit your consumption
we're stressed, the things that are most important and good for
us, we give up first," Baron says. "We take better care
of our cars and furniture than we do our own bodies."
On the psychological
side, you need to identify the source of the stress in your life
-- if it isn't already obvious.
Jerry Kiffer, director of the psychological test center at the
Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, says it's vital to keep life's trials
recommends deep breathing techniques, like those taught in childbirth
classes, as a great way to relax and relieve stress.
To get started,
sit comfortably in a chair with your hands in your lap. Release
any tension in your shoulders. Then, close your eyes and slowly
blow out the air through your mouth. Then breathe in slowly through
your nose. Keep repeating the process, and within a few minutes
your heart and pulse rate will start to slow down.
endorses a technique called "visualization," which draws
on pleasant memories to take "micro-vacations" and unwind.
Find a quiet place to close the door, dim the lights, and sit
down -- or even lay down -- for a few minutes. Turn on a CD with
relaxing music or perhaps sounds of nature. Then, close your eyes
and think of a favorite vacation. Or of sitting in front of a
fireplace. Or a gently flowing river. Breathe slowly and deeply
and let your muscles relax.
If life is
so hectic that you can't take the time to create those pleasant
experiences, Kiffer has one more suggestion that everyone has
time for: "Look out the window and watch the clouds. If there's
no clouds, pay attention to the color of the sky. Pay attention
to nature. It's a big stress reducer," he says.
Do: For more information on how stress can affect us, visit
Psychological Association Web page. And this APA site will
help you determine if you need
professional help to manage your stress.
Reference Source 101