Few people I have ever talked to about stress knew that there are illnesses caused by stress. It is generally thought that health problems are the result of bacteria or viruses. What we aren’t taught in health class is that stress can disable the body’s immune system to make you more susceptible to germs in the environment. Stress can play havoc with your body’s ability to fight off microscopic invaders or to operate the way it is supposed to. There are many kinds of illnesses caused by stress involving both the body and the mind. How do I reduce the stress in my life? Let's discuss the problem and then we will give some stress release tips …
Some of the health problems related to stress:
- Insomnia – Stress keeps people awake at night due to worry, anxiety, or uncertainty about the future. Work, family issues, and health problems can cause us to live in a stressful state and lose sleep.
- Eating Disorders – Do you reach for something sweet and tasty when you feel overwhelmed or anxious? Ever crave “comfort food” when you are distressed or battling with relationship issues.
- Depression – Unresolved stress can make a person feel angry or hopeless. There is a cause-and-effect relationship between stress and conditions like depression. Are you chronically sad, confused, lonely or feeling unloved, struggling with guilt and/or shame?
- Anxiety and Panic Attacks – As with depression, anxiety and panic attacks frequently have a stress-related connection.
- Colds and Viruses – Physical illnesses such as the common cold or seasonal viruses/allergies, can be caused by stress. As stated earlier, stress prevents the immune system from functioning properly and fighting off colds, flu, viruses, and allergies.
- Circulatory Problems – Stress can make your body’s arteries and veins tighten up and reduce blood flow. This can create problems like blood clots, poor circulation, or even strokes.
- Infections – Mental and/or emotional stress can prevent healing of infections, bug bites, or even systemic infections like food poisoning. Stress drains you of positive energy and leaves less energy to sustain functions that heal infectious illnesses and injuries.
- Diabetes – One of the more common illnesses caused by stress is out-of-control blood sugar for diabetes patients. Stress can send sugar levels skyrocketing or plummeting.
- Heart Problems – Stress can cause heart palpitations and increase pulse rate, as well as blood pressure. If not controlled, serious stress can damage the heart. Elevated stress levels can also raise your blood cholesterol.
- Cancer – Studies are showing links between long-term stress and various types of cancer. Health experts are still sorting out whether stress actually causes cancer. However, there’s little doubt that it promotes the growth and spread of some forms of the disease. Stress makes your body more hospitable to cancer.
Not only is stress linked to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and mental illness … it might be shortening your lifespan.
Scientists from the University of California, San Francisco, have discovered a link between constant anxiety and lower levels of Klotho. Klotho has been found to help strengthen arteries, protect against cognitive decline, and improve bone density – all things that help people live longer.
So How Do I Release Stress?
Here are those stress release tips we promised:
- Try drinking a glass of milk before bedtime
- Avoid caffeine
- Do not exercise at least four (4) hours before going to bed
- Keep your bedroom cool, dimly lit and comfortable
- Keep the television in the family room
- Put your cell phone on the other side of the room with the ringer off
Eating Disorders: If you must nibble in stressful situations …
- Stick to crisp veggies or light butter popcorn
- Fiber will make you feel full
- Take control and don’t let stress drive you to the pantry for cookies or junk food
- Eat a balanced diet to calm your nerves
- Sip a glass of water
- Get plenty of rest
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Reduce stressful situations
- Relief may be found in taking a warm bath or shower
- Drink hot tea
- Mental relaxation therapy (meditation, positive imaging, prayer)
- Massage – Relaxation massage, lymphatic massage, Reiki energy therapy)
- Essential oil therapy (inhalation, topical, and digested)
- Low impact exercise (walking is a great way to get blood flowing)
General Tips for Releasing Stress:
1. Practice Meditation or Yoga – Both meditation and Yoga give your mind a break from stress and give focus to healing, positive energy, and peace. They are proven to combat stress. Research suggests that daily meditation may alter the brain’s neural pathways, making you more resilient to stress.
Aim for at least two 2-minute periods a day of meditation:
- Sit quietly and try to keep your mind off of any concerns. Think about your favorite place or scene.
- Sit up straight with both feet on the floor.
- Close your eyes.
- Focus your attention on reciting – out loud or silently – a positive mantra such as “I feel at peace” or “I desire wholeness”.
- Place one hand on your belly to sync the mantra with your breaths.
- Let any distracting thoughts float through your mind like a breeze.
2. Deep Breathing Exercises – Take a 5-minute break and focus on your breathing.
- Sit up straight or lay flat on your back.
- Close your eyes.
- Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and rise, working its way up to the top of your head (crown chakra).
- Reverse the process and exhale through your mouth, feeling the breath leave from the top of your head down to your abdomen.
To enhance your time … try using a diffuser with essential oils. Essential oils can open airways, aide in focus, and clear thought processes.
3. Get Plenty of Sleep – Getting eight (8) hours of sleep each night is a great defense against stress. It also affects your mood, memory, and ability to focus. Stick to a regular sleep schedule.
- Avoid watching TV in bed.
- Exercise regularly – All forms of exercise, including yoga and walking, can ease stress, depression, and anxiety by helping the brain release the “feel-good” chemicals.
4. Be Present – Slow down and be in the moment several times a day. Take the time to just be …Notice how the hair feels on your face when you are walking
- Notice how your feet feel hitting the ground
- Enjoy the texture and taste of each bite of food
5. Exercise Regularly – All forms of exercise, including yoga and walking, can ease stress, depression, and anxiety by helping the brain release the “feel-good” chemicals.
- Do yoga
- Go for a quick walk around the block or building where you work
- Take the stairs up and down a few flights
- Do some stretching exercises like head rolls and shoulder shrugs.
6. Tune In To Your Body – Mentally scan your body each day to get a sense of how stress affects it.
- Lie on your back or sit with your feet on the floor.
- Start at your toes and work your way up to your scalp.
- Notice how your body feels.
- Be aware of places you feel tight or loose without trying to change anything.
- For 1 to 2 minutes, imagine each deep breath flowing to that part of the body.
Repeat this process as you move your focus up over your body, paying close attention to the sensations you feel in each area of the body. Again,… essential oils can enhance the experience and aide in restoring healthy physiology.
- Place a warm heat wrap around your neck and shoulders for 10 minutes.
- Close your eyes and relax your face, neck, upper chest, and back muscles.
- Remove the wrap and use a tennis ball or foam roller to massage away tension:
- Place the ball between your back and the wall.
- Lean into the ball, and hold gentle pressure for up to 1 seconds.
- Move the ball to another spot, and apply pressure.
8. Laugh Out Loud – Laughing doesn’t just lighten the mood mentally. It lowers cortisol, your body’s stress hormone. It also boosts brain chemicals called endorphins which help your mood.
9. Listen to Soothing Music – Research shows that listening to soothing music can lower blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety levels. Create a playlist of songs or nature sounds (ocean waves, bubbling brook, chirping birds). Allow your mind to focus on the different melodies, instruments or singers in the piece.
10. An Attitude of Gratitude – Most important of all … be grateful. It is impossible to be depressed or anxious if you are in a state of gratitude. Keep a “gratitude” journal to have with you everywhere you go. Take time several times a day to jot down all the things that are good in your life at that moment.
Be purposeful in remembering your blessings and give yourself a break from thinking about the stress in your life. There’s plenty enough time for that. Use your “gratitude” journal as a prayer journal as well. Look back over your prayers and make notes on answered prayers for you and others in your life.
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