Monday, September 14, 2009

Three Powerful Steps to Relieve Stress

What is stress? Why do we have stress? How can we relieve stress?

Do you ever feel like you have too much on your plate? Everyone expects something from you and you don't seem to have the time required to deliver. You notice the muscles in your neck and shoulders become tense and painful, your head hurts, you feel a bit queasy in your stomach, and your heart races. These are all signs that your body is stressed.

Stress is inevitable and no one can ever be stress free. The body has a built in mechanism to push us through difficult situations. When you have a lot on your plate the biological changes that occur are that your body releases two stress hormones, one is cortisol and the other adrenaline. Prolonged affects can become destructive in that these two chemicals actually suppress the immune system and can cause numerous health problems like heart disease, stroke, cancer, and depression. The stress hormones are released in the body, this is referred to as the "fight or flight" response. The adrenaline and cortisol is released to aid in a physical form,for example you are in a car accident and a loved one is pinned under the vehicle, you suddenly have the strength to pick up the vehicle to pull the loved one out. You didn't turn into the incredible Hulk although the chemicals in your body do provide an instant surge of strength that makes you feel like the big green monster!

Over time when you suffer from psychological or mental stress these chemicals build up in the body without an outlet to dispel them. An abundance of these stress hormones over a prolonged period of time can cause numerous health issues, depression, anxiety, and panic disorders.

Three Tips for Relieving the Stress Hormones

1. Exercise

Taking time to exercise will not only improve your body and its physical appearance it will assist in releasing the stress hormones that have been building up. A daily vigorous walk, jogging, weight lifting, aerobics, swimming, bike riding, dancing or a dance class, football, basketball, etc are all great ways to relieve the chemical stress hormones.

2. Eating Right

Eating a balanced diet will not only make you feel better it will relieve some of the stress and certainly won't add to it. When you eat a diet high in sugars, cholesterol, and fat, you add to the trauma in your system. Concentrate on a high protein, veggie, fruit diet and you will see remarkable improvements. Also whole grains promote production of the brain neurotransmitter serotonin for a greater sense of well-being. When you combine healthier eating with exercise your body will respond favorably and the stress levels will start to decrease.

3. Change Your Mindset

If you walk around all day saying "I'm so stressed", you will be. Positive thinking is crucial to relieving the mental stress. Our minds are so powerful that we can actually increase our stress by the way we think and the things we speak. If you develop a new mindset that is positive in nature and optimistic, studies have shown this to be a reliever of stress. Meditation is a prime way to change your mindset and refocus on the positives and what is really important. Try yoga or visualization imagery to assist.