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Tips for Maintaining Your Health during Periods of Stress

23 Feb

We all go through periods of stress and it can affect us differently. Stress can cause an elevated heartbeat, headaches, stiff neck and tight shoulders, back pain, sweating and upset stomach. Over time, stress can affect the immune system, muscles, and the heart and other organs of your body. http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-management-effects-of-stress

Stress often involves change. Some of the most stressful life events include: spouse death, divorce, marriage separation, jail term, death of a loved one, injury or illness, marriage, job loss, pregnancy, and retirement/change of financial status. It is interesting that even events we look forward to like marriage and retirement can be severe stressors.

A stressful life event that I experienced was in taking on a challenging job after being away from the work force for two years. The new job involved a lot of responsibility and a lot of new things that I would have to learn. Although not on the above list, a lot of people develop chronic stress from work. And chances are that if your boss does not handle stress well, that it can also affect you. I did not exactly handle my stressful situation the best. I was drinking tons of coffee, not sleeping well, not making time for exercise, and ended up gaining about 20 pounds. I probably knew better, but you can get on a cycle where you don’t know what else to do. So this article stems from lessons learned.

One other consideration involves the effect of hormones on the body. While there are a few hormones like testosterone in men and women that can aid weight loss, elevated levels of certain hormones like cortisol can cause detrimental effects on the body, including weight gain. http://stress.about.com/od/stresshealth/a/cortisol.htm

This article is not medical advice. It is about relating my own lessons learned. Here are some of my own tips for not letting stress take its toll.

  1. Take a walk. Go for one or more short, brisk walks throughout the day for stress reduction and health benefits. http://walking.about.com/od/hearthealth/a/hypertension906.htm   A study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion found short walks to have enormous positive benefits. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130901153352.htm
  2. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. When we are stressed we often tend to drink anything but water, but water is exactly what is needed. http://benefitof.net/benefits-of-drinking-water/ 
  3. Eat anti-inflammatory foods. Inflammation is a common culprit in most disease from cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Anti-inflammatory foods can include anything from organic fruits and vegetables to fish and fish oil, olive oil, to a glass of red wine. Even though salad can be healthy, most store-bought salad dressings actually increase inflammation. A great simple anti-inflammatory salad dressing is one part rice vinegar, two parts olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. A good book on this topic is The Inflammation Syndrome by Jack Challem. 
  4. Multi-task. It might sound counter-intuitive, but you can reduce stress by keeping busy. You might catch up with a favorite show on Netflix or listen to a book on tape while doing housework. If you sit watching NFL football doing nothing but consuming beer and fatty foods, this can add stress. However if you also fold a couple loads of laundry, change the cat litter and take out the trash in the same period, this time multi-tasking will probably not add to your stress level, even if your team loses. 
  5. Pray. You don’t have to handle your stress alone.
  6. Socialize with supportive friends. Individuals with a support system always fare better than their isolated counterparts.
  7. Exercise. It is a great way to distract us in a productive way, remove tension from our bodies and help us sleep better. Also, if done outside, you can be invigorated with fresh air.
  8. Get restful sleep and a nap when you can. I put this one last because the chances are that if you do the preceding (including the exercise and drinking water) that you will be able to sleep.

Take charge of your own health and take care of you!

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Posted by on February 23, 2014 in Career, Culture, Health, Life

 

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