Sunday, January 22, 2012

Coping with Stress

Today’s health and beauty buzz is on coping with stress.
The credit card bills are rolling in with most of us having over extended ourselves during the holidays. Unfortunately stress is an inevitable part of life especially in our fast paced and competitive society. People live with constant stress having to juggle the demands of marriage, kids, financial instability and work.

50% of first time marriages in the USA end in divorce.  Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death amongst teenagers according to NIMH.  One in five high school students have seriously considered suicide. Kids today have to deal with enormous academic demands.
Stress can wreak havoc on your health and age you faster. Excessive anxiety triggers inflammation.
It compromises your immune system increasing your risk of developing colds, flu and even cancer.
It damages your brain and memory.
Your hair can thin and even fall out.
It makes you fat and may lead to the development of type 2 diabetes.
It may cause headaches, poor sleep, constipation, gas, bloating and diarrhea.

Obviously stress is caused by many events beyond our control such as a serious illness or death of a loved one. Sometimes the reason is not so obvious. Keep a journal as to the causes of stress in your life and try to find a solution to minimize each one.

Useful ways to try to manage stress:-
  1.       Get a good night sleep. There are many non addictive and safe alternatives to aid sleep such as chamomile tea for relaxation before bed. Take a calcium and magnesium supplement at night instead of in the morning. Calcium and magnesium are often combined and aid in the relaxation of muscles, making it easier to sleep.
  2.       Eat a healthy and balanced diet. Levels of cortisol (stress hormone) are increased in times of stress making you crave fatty, sugary and salty foods. With a balance of lean protein and healthy carbs, blood sugar levels are kept stable.
  3.       Exercise- This boosts the production of the brains feel good neurotransmitters called endorphins and exercise helps to improve sleep. Walking in the sunlight is beneficial. Have your vitamin D levels checked. Lack of sunlight can cause a deficiency of vitamin D.
  4.      Try to avoid situations that make you anxious or remove yourself from them.
  5.       Don’t stress about what you cannot change or control. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  6.      Set yourself realistic goals and prioritize. Don’t overextend yourself. Learn to say NO.
  7.       Do something that you enjoy every day no matter how small.
  8.      Surround yourself with positive people. Negativity is contagious. This has always been my advice to my kids. Boost all the positive aspects in your life and don’t dwell on the negatives.
  9.      Try meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, massage therapy, listening to music that you love and even hypnotherapy. If all else fails, do seek counseling. Sometimes just talking it out with a close friend you can trust or a therapist is all that it needed.
  10.      Studies conducted have shown that high doses of Omega 3 fatty acids significantly improve symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  11.       I have found that looking forward to an event no matter how small can help with "feeling blue." Treat yourself to lunch with a friend, a facial, manicure or massage.
  12.       Rhodiola Rosea Root has the reputation for fighting fatigue and relieving stress. It is a non addictive herb and deemed to be safe.

Remember that just because the bottle says "natural or herbal", it does not necessarily mean that it cannot do harm. There are many herbs bottled for human consumption that may be potentially deadly.

*Consult with your doctor before taking any medication or vitamin supplements.

Many people suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) thought to be caused by lack of light during these cold winter months, causing bouts of depression. Symptoms include irritability, lethargy, increased sleep and craving of carbohydrates. These symptoms are generally only present during the winter. Light therapy has proved beneficial. *Consult with a doctor before using light therapy.* There are contraindications for bi polar individuals which may worsen their symptoms resulting in manic behavior.

Tip for the day:
 Vitamin B complex can bolster the nervous system.  Fish oil fights inflammation.

Stay healthy, happy and safe.
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