Tips on Handling Stress

Warning:Stress can be hazardous to your health & emotional wellbeing. Unexplainable Symptoms: uneasiness or nervousness (fight or flight response without an obvious cause), shortness of breath, tightness or discomfort in chest, slight nausea or queeziness, feeling faint or lightheaded (similar to synope symptoms triggered by extreme heat), sporadic muscle pain or spasms can occur in any part of the body & fatigue.

I have added this page to help those who may be struggling with symptoms such as depression and anxiety. I hope you find this helpful. Give it a try for 30 days and see what happens.

I got this from a "marketing email" but found this part the only interesting part I thought I'ld share. "Generally one needs to address the following issues to improve adrenal health: Getting to bed before 10 PM. Rest and repair occurs from 11 PM to 1 AM and if you are awake it does not happen. Your gallbladder dumps toxins from 11 to 1 AM. If you are awake the toxins back up into the liver which then secondarily back up into your system and cause further disruption of your health.

Optimize your diet, Address emotional stress issues. Unresolved psychoemotional stress issues are the most common reason why the adrenals are impaired. Identify hidden causes of stress. These are usually metabolic poisons or toxins such as solvents, pesticides, mercury from amalgam fillings, yeast or anaerobic infections in the gut, parasites, and root canal infections."

First you need a good night's sleep.
Promote sleep by establishing a bedtime routine such as taking a warm bath and reading a book (if the novel keeps you up, read a boring book).
Adjust the room temperature to a comfortable level (not too hot or too cold).
Talk about the days activities and concerns ealier in the day to ensure plenty of time to talk and work out any problems.
Do quite activities for the last hour before going to bed.
Eat a light snack to avoid feeling hungry at night (don't eat a heavy meal late at night. This will cause your body to digest food instead of sleeping at night and may cause "those dreams".
Exercise for 20 to 30 minutes at least 4 hours prior to going to bed. If you exercise to close to bedtime your body will still be "hyped up" from the exercise. Exercise done earlier in the day helps promote sleep at night.
Be sure the tv, radio, etc is turned off when you sleep. The noise keeps your subconscious awake at night thus effecting the quality of sleep.

Next you need to eat a healthy diet
Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit and less junk foods and sugars. Fad diets help people loss weight while they are on the diet but they do not stay on the diet the rest of their lives so they return to their usual diet and gain the weight back. If you are concerned about some extra pounds most experts recommend cutting back on the amount of foods consumed, cut back on sweets and exercise more. There are plenty of good information on nutrition and healthy diets.

Exercise is very important.
I just read an artical on research which showed how exercise reduces effects of depression. Exercise helps promote better health and physical fitness which causes the body to function better. Exercise helps decrease harmful effects of stress (reduces stress hormones) and releases hormones which promote a sense of better well being. Before starting an exercise program do consult with your doctor to make sure your body can handle the exercises you plan to do. We don't want anyone keeling over from a heart attack while trying to run a 10 mile marathon.

Now lets deal with those feelings and emotions.
Stress causes an increase in the hormone cortisol which is released when the body feels threaten. This is called the fight or flight response. The heart rate increases, blood pressure increases, blood flow is reserved to specific organs, the brain is more alert, sleep is decreased, the body is basically put on high alert. This response kept activated over a period of time causes specific health problems (ex. high blood pressure, heart problems). However this cortisol research is indicating and many of us with "bad genes" or specific health problems (Hashimoto's disease may be one of those conditions) like fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome already learned aggravates symptoms. Stress may produce heart palpitations, nervousness, increased hair loss, increase headaches (including triggering migraines), nausea, vomiting, intestinal problems (worsens irritable bowel syndrome), increased urination, dry mouth (could worsen sjogren's syndrome), cognitive problems, muscle aches and pains, depressive symptoms (increased sadness, increased fatigue, increased irritability, loss of interest or motivation), and increased worry. Actually the list goes on.

Basically there is usually only two choices here when health becomes an issue in handling stress. Either reduce stress and decrease symptoms (I prefer this option) or keep the high level of stress and suffer the increasing health problems (I don't like pain. Do you?)

There are two types of stress (besides the good (marriage or birth of a child) and bad (agruments or divorce). There are stress you can control and stress you can't control. Think about it.

Stress you can control consists of things you can control such as how much you "volunteer" to do such as helping out with a friend's friend's wedding reception, being on 3 or 4 board of directors, being on the planning committee of a local club and volunteering every Sunday evening in the church nursery. These activities are fine but when you get too many things on your "plate" then you get burned out. Instead of enjoying these activities you dread them and feel tired from them. Do you work 70 hours a week? The body can only handle so much. You need a proper amount of rest, food, play and work.

What about stress I can't control? Well it happens to all of us. This includes a sister's divorce, a child's graduation, being a victum of a random crime, having to choose between moving to another state with the company or finding another job locally during a recession. These things happen to all of us and we have to learn to deal with them effectively.

Actually our decisions can create more stress. An example, a man is having a really bad day at work, his boss then gets on his case about a mistake he made. The man gets mad, tells his boss to "take this job and shove it" stomps off the job site and quits. He comes home to his wife and kids and finds out the youngest child has been diagnosed with leukemia. This is a bad situation but the man just made it worse by quitting his job. How will they pay for the medical bills especially since he insisted his wife to stay home and take care of the kids a year ago. Can you see how he made matters worse. The leukemia couldn't be prevented but the man could have stopped and realized he was just having a bad day and decide not to react out of his anger. He then would have had a job and medical insurance along with a steady income.

How do you handle problems?
First learn to develop a positive attitude that despite how bad things may seem realize that you will make it through. God does not put more on you than what you can bear. Look for what lession you are suppost to learn from the current situation. Realize "this too shall pass".

Second take responsibility for your own actions and mistakes. Don't blame it on others or "fate". If you blame others then there will be no positive change and the problem will only return. It you take responsibility then you feel empowered to make postive changes.

Next, grow from the experience. What can you learn and intregrate into your life. What did you do to contribute to the problem? What can you do to correct the problem? (If you see what you can do then fix the problem. If the roof is leaking then get it repaired. Don't just sit around and mope and groan about it. There are actually people who just talk about their problems and how life isn't fair but refuse to do anything about it. It's as if they want to stay in misery.) If life gives you lemons make lemonaide. (no buts, don't argue, just do it)

What if you can't fix the problem, then look at what you could have done to prevent it. Then simply do it the next time. This prevents the problem in the future which lowers stress.

What if I couldn't do anything to prevent it. Hey some things are "just acts of nature". You couldn't stop the tornado from hitting your house or the thief from robbing your hotel room while on vacation last summer. However you can take travelor's checks, clean out your purse before going on vacation, leave the extra credit cards in the safe deposit box at home.

Last but not least realize you are human and occasionally you will make mistakes. This is hard for perfectionists to accept and often supervisors at work fail to remember this. Set your standards high and aim to exceed other's expectations but realize you need "down time" and can't be perfect 100% of the time. Set a pace which is comfortable for you but be sure you are doing a day's honest work.

Anyway this will give you a basic understanding about stress and ways to decrease stress in your life. I hope this has been helpful.

I just found some very important information on a site which I know is critical to reducing stress. This is about a problem many of us struggle with. Negative thoughts!

"Kill the ANTs That Invade Your Brain
The thoughts that go through your mind, moment by moment, have a significant impact on how your brain works. Research by Mark George, MD and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health demonstrated that happy, hopeful thoughts had an overall calming effect on the brain, while negative thoughts inflamed brain areas often involved with depression and anxiety. Your thoughts matter.

I often teach my patients how to metaphorically kill the ANTs that invade their minds. ANTs stand for Automatic Negative Thoughts. The ANTs are automatic. They just happen. But they can ruin your whole day, maybe even your life. For example, I once treated a college student who was ready to drop out of school. He thought he was stupid because didn't do well on tests. When his IQ (intelligence level) was tested, however, we discovered that he had an IQ of 135 (in the superior range). He just wasn't a good test taker. I have identified nine different kinds of ANT species, or ways your thoughts can distort incoming information to make you feel bad. Here are four ANT species:

Mind reading --- predicting you know that another person is thinking something negative about you without them telling you. I often tell my patients that, "A negative look from someone else may mean nothing more than he or she is constipated. You don't know. You can't read minds. I have 25 years of training in human behavior and I still can't read anyone's mind."

Fortune telling -- predicting a bad outcome to a situation before it has occurred. Your mind makes happen what it sees. Unconsciously, predicting failure will often cause failure. For example, if you say, "I know I will fail the test," then you will likely not study hard enough and fail the test.

Always or never thinking - this is where you think in words like always, never, every time, or everyone. These thoughts are overgeneralizations which can alter behavior. For example, I have a friend who asked out an attractive woman. She turned him down. He told himself that no one will ever go out with him again. This ANT prevented him from asking out anyone else for over nine months.

Guilt beatings -- being overrun by thoughts of "I should have done... I'm bad because…. I must do better at… I have to…). Guilt is powerful at making us feel bad. It is a lousy motivator of behavior.

You do not have to believe every thought that goes through your head. It's important to think about your thoughts to see if they help you or they hurt you. Unfortunately, if you never challenge your thoughts you just "believe them" as if they were true. ANTs can take over and infest your brain. Develop an internal anteater to hunt down and devour the negative thoughts that are ruining your life.

Once you learn about your thoughts, you can chose to think good thoughts and feel good or you can choose to think bad thoughts and feel lousy. You can train your thoughts to be positive and hopeful or you can just allow them to be negative and upset you. That's right, it's up to you! You can learn how to change your thoughts and optimize your brain. One way to learn how to change your thoughts is to notice them when they are negative and talk back to them. If you can correct negative thoughts, you take away their power over you. When you think a negative thought without challenging it, your mind believes it and your brain reacts to it."

Seven Ways To Optimize Your Brain and Your Life Read about the other 6 ways which also helps to reduce stress.

Rx for Overall Health: Friendship

"Being socially interactive and [doing] things you want to do . . . whether that's talking or sharing activities, can keep you healthier."
Bruce Rabin, M.D., medical director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Health Enhancement Program

By now, we all know that stress is harmful to our health, but a reminder never hurts. Even if stress isn't a headache trigger for you, it can affect other areas of your health, and affect your headache disorder in that way.

How does stress affect your body?
During times of stress, some parts of your brain become more active, resulting in elevated levels of the stress hormones, cortisol and the catecholamines, norepinephrine, epinephrine, adrenalin, and dopamine. These hormones, produced in the adrenal glands, are necessary to the body in the day-to-day challenges we all face. However, when these levels are heightened for extended periods of time, they can become harmful, affecting blood glucose levels, healing, bone density, and the aging process. The immune system may function poorly and neurons in your brain may be affected, compromising mental function.

Dealing with stress:
Obviously, we can't eliminate all stress from our lives, so we need to develop and employ coping strategies. Dr. Rabin comments:

"Being optimistic, having a sense of humor, being physically fit, and being religious or spiritual are all part of the package--and none is more important than another. It's a lifestyle that combines all these factors that will help you in the long run... The more types of friends you have, the better... Seek out friends from a variety of settings, including your family, your workplace, and your place of worship. It doesn't matter much where, so long as you get out there and mingle."

According to a study conducted at UCLA, women seem to naturally seek out friends as a response to stress. Shelley E. Taylor, Ph.D., a psychology professor and principal investigator of the study, calls this pattern "tend and befriend." Females of many species, including our own, respond to stress by protecting and nurturing their young (the "tend" response) and by seeking social contact and support from others (the "befriend" response). This is in contrast to the more familiar "fight or flight" behavior that many of us of both genders use to cope with stress. The "tend-and-befriend" response may be biological in origin, the UCLA researchers say, being connected to:

The hormone oxytocin.
Sex hormones.
The body's natural opioid (pain-killer) system.
The UCLA study also demonstrated that women are more likely than men to "befriend," to seek social contact in stressful situations. Taylor also said, "The different ways that men and women respond to stress, may lead researchers to understand why men are more likely than women to suffer stress's harmful effects."

Gerald Ellison, Ph.D., director of Psychoneuroimmunology Services at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is another proponent of friendship for managing stress. He observed,

"Friends keep us from becoming isolated and lonely; they offer encouragement and support; and they help keep our thinking in line with the real world... When we're missing friendship, we experience isolation and loneliness. These feelings are associated with illness, discomfort, and general ineffectiveness as a person... Having friends can also be especially helpful if you're already seriously ill... Friends--if supportive and encouraging--can increase our hope when dealing with illness and trauma. And increased hope is associated with higher levels of immune system functioning."

Friendship is a sound prescription in times of stress, for both our emotional and physical health. Dr. Ellison's statement seems a fitting summary:
"Friends--if supportive and encouraging--can increase our hope when dealing with illness and trauma. And increased hope is associated with higher levels of immune system functioning."

1 Carol Sorgen, "To Stay Healthy . . . Make Friends," Medscape Health for Consumers. December, 2001.
© Teri Robert, 2002
About, Inc.

What Are the Risk Factors for Depression? Depression can affect anyone, but certain populations tend to have significantly higher rates of depression than do others. Medical disorders that are often found in conjunction with depression are also discussed. "Accompanying Medical Disorders:
Severe or Chronic Medical Conditions. Any chronic or serious illness that is life threatening, or out of a person's control can lead to depression.
Thyroid Disease. Thyroid disease can cause depression; it may even be misdiagnosed as depression and go undetected.
Headaches. One study reported that nearly half of people with chronic tension headaches met criteria for either anxiety or depression; it wasn't clear whether depression preceded or followed the onset of headaches. Two further studies found that people who had migraines were far more likely to be depressed (and vice versa) than those who did not have migraines. Some experts believe that a syndrome of migraine headaches, anxiety, and depression, which occurs in some people, is caused by common factors."
"Anxiety Disorder
Chronic depression is a frequent companion to anxiety disorders. In one study, up to 96% of patients with depressive disorders experienced concurrent anxiety. More than two-thirds of people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, a common anxiety disorder, also suffer from depression."

Limbic System Hyperactivity I've never heard of this until I took a test online which indicated this as a probable cause of cognitive symptoms. This page describes this. "The limbic system lies near the center of the brain. It is about the size of a walnut. This is the part of the brain that sets a person's emotional tone or how positive or negative you are. The limbic system also affects motivation and drive. It helps get you going in the morning and encourages you to move throughout the day. It controls the sleep and appetite cycles of the body. It affects the bonding mechanism that enables you to connect with other people on a social level; your ability to do this successfully in turn influences your moods.

Mood problems often occur when the limbic system of the brain is overactive. Clinical depression, manic-depressive disorder and severe PMS are more severe problems than the garden variety most people experience in the form of bad moods. For complete healing to take place, the addition of antidepressant medication or appropriate herbal treatment may be needed. A sure sign that the prescribed medications are really treating the depression is that the deep limbic system activity normalizes. Whenever limbic activity normalizes, there is a corresponding decrease in the patient's symptoms."

ADD Inattentive Type This is likely more of a common problem than what is recognized. "The severity of the disorder is rated as mild, moderate or severe. Even though these children have many of the same symptoms of the people with AD/HD, they are not hyperactive and may appear hypoactive. Additional symptoms for this subtype include: excessive daydreaming, frequent complaints of being bored, appearing apathetic or unmotivated, appearing frequently sluggish or slow moving or appearing spacey or internally preoccupied -- the classic "couch potato."
Most people with this form of ADD are never diagnosed. They do not exhibit enough symptoms that "grate" on the environment to cause others to seek help for them. Yet, they often experience severe disability from the disorder. Instead of help, they get labeled as willful, uninterested, or defiant.
As with the ADD combined type, brain studies in patients with ADD, inattentive subtype reveal a decrease in brain activity in the frontal lobes of the brain in response to an intellectual challenge. Again, it seems that the harder these people try to concentrate, the worse it gets."

Amen Brain System Checklist Want to take the test & see where you rate?

Stress Management & the Serenity Prayer "Many are familiar with the words of theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, but few are aware that he is their author. The “serenity prayer” is taught in AA meetings and other 12-step groups as a model for living life one day at a time. We can all learn from it."

Writing Email About Problems Can Improve Health "Researchers at Texas A&M found that participants who wrote emails about their traumatic emotional experiences were healthier in the weeks following their writings than were those who wrote about non-emotional topics."

Mental Site has information on a variety of mental illnesses as well as stress management and maintaining mental health.

Sickness Can Be Price of Unbridled Stress "From cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson a generation ago to psychologist Joan Borysenko in the 1980s, researchers at Harvard Medical School and elsewhere have confirmed the physiology of the fight-or-flight response to heightened stress or alertness. Conditioned through prehistoric millennia that stress signals physical danger, humans react instinctively with increased heart and breathing rates, and higher blood pressure diverting resources to critical muscles.
Among hormones instrumental in that response are adrenaline and cortisol, Borysenko found in lab experiments. Those energy boosters ``are also potent inhibitors of our immune system,'' Byars said. ``This constant activation of the fight-or-flight response causes various systems of the body to develop chronic problems, such as high blood pressure or a strained heart.'' I know stress has caused hashimoto's hypothyroidism in me as well as the cognitive problems which lead to depression. Stress alters the immune system which causes autoimmune diseases and increased health problems which can include chronic fatigue syndrome & fibromyalgia. We just live in a too stressful world. Come Lord Jesus, Come.

Recognizing Stress And Some Ways to Take the Pressure Off "- Physically: Do you notice yourself tensed up? Stomach in knots? Frequent headaches? Muscle aches and pains?
- Mentally: Do you notice that you can't concentrate as well as usual? Are pessimistic? Spend free moments worrying about your problems rather than solving them?
- Emotionally: Do you often feel sad? Scared? Angry? On edge?

Some ideas to relieve stress: Simplify your life, Get enough sleep, Eat well, Exercise, Have fun, Maintain a support system, Meditate, pray, Keep your sense of humor, Be assertive. Don't bottle up negative emotions and experiences, Be creative. Indulge in enjoyable hobbies, Give of yourself, & Pamper yourself." Headaches are often come about from too much stress. This site gives a lot of information on all types of headaches.

Living life in the fastlane? Signs of burnout.

Stress Less Web site on stress reduction.

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