There are several basic stress techniques to use everyday to deal with:
1. Physical factors
2. Nutritional Stress
3. Climatic Stress
4. Emotional Stress
Physical factors: Whenever we are stressed to meet deadlines, deal with interpersonal relationships that are tenuous--children mis behaving, supervisors making demands, and so on--the fight or flight part of our nervous system gets involved. We are impacted much the same way as if we were being physically threatened and it happens whenever our ego is threatened.
When we speak of the fight or flight we usually think of one reacting to a physical threat such as the saber tooth tigers with which our ancestors had to deal. However, the fight or flight (the sympathetic nervous system is activated any time our egos are threatened as in our financial position, family status, work status, personal status.
When the fight or flight is activated, our breathing becomes tense and upper chest, we brace and our muscles tighten, our blood flow to the extremities is hampered, stomach stops digestion, heart rate increases, sweat glad activity is activated, circulation to our extremities is reduced, and so on.
The essence is that our body is made ready to either fight or run from a threat. However, for the majority of threats running or fighting is not a practical solution. For instance, your supervisor gives you constructive criticism. You wouldn't fight him or get up and run away from his critique, would you? Yet your body has you ready to do this.
And what's even more interesting, you are holding onto physical tension and unaware of it. It's not a super high level of tension, but none the less, when you hold onto it you:
1. Become acclimated to higher levels of tension as being normal so it's not uncommon to simply notice that your shoulders are hunched up and tight, or that your jaw is clenched, or whatever.
2. The tension builds to the point where you experience a stress related problem such as headaches, indigestion, hypertension, and so on.
Nutritional Stress Factors:
Eating a highly refined diet which is high in sugar and refined grains such as you'll find in pastries, cookies, cake, pretzels, and so on contribute to hypoglycemia. This type of diet causes a rapid rise in blood sugar and after years of this abuse, the pancreas eventually over produces insulin causing a rapid decrease in blood sugar. Symptoms are nervousness, irritability, depression, anxiety to name a few. The adrenal glands also gets involved further stressing the body by activating the sympathetic nervous system. Essentially with poor nutrition your responses to stress are magnified making it difficult to use any stress techniques effectively. Boredom and comfort eating often accompany non nutritional eating that add excess weight and contribute to heart disease.
Climatic stress. Yes environmental changes in temperature and humidity have an effect as well. Just read the headlines during a long hot spell or a cold spell and you'll find an increase in the number of deaths during these periods. Dehydration in summer time is the biggest threat to health and exposure to the cold in winter time can be life threatening.
For instance, shoveling snow can be life threatening if the person breathes through his mouth instead of through his nose which warms the air. Breathing through one's mouth can admit cold air into the bronchial system essentially freezing critical arteries causing death.
Emotional Stress: Add social, work, and financial pressures and we have frustration, upset, anger, confusion, and uncertainty to add to everyday happenings. It's actually nothing wrong with these emotions, what is more of a problem is that we make the emotion itself a stressor and instead of simply embracing emotion we resist and fight many of these emotions or get upset with ourselves for being human. This only serves to activate the fight or flight further stressing the body.
Managing these stressors simply is to become aware of the bodily responses to stress and manage them.
1. Deep breathing is the first of all stress techniques to use to deal with stress followed by learning to recognize muscle tension and letting it go. Stress management techniques on self help downloads and CDs teach deep breathing and muscular awareness techniques to recognize the body's activation and let it go.
2. Obviously a shift in diet away from a high sugar refined diet is one of many effective stress techniques to minimize one's reactivity to stress as well.
3. Dressing appropriately, taking breaks, drinking water, minimizing exercise in cold temperatures are several stress techniques that can minimize one's responses to climatic stressors.
4. Reduce the emotional load by learning how to embrace emotions and use them as a "call to action" as Tony Robbins would suggest is another of many stress techniques. Even though emotions have been around for thousands of years, it's only recently that programs to effectively deal with them are surfacing.
Strangely enough it's our beliefs and attitudes about emotions that keep us from embracing them which actually makes them more stressful than what they really are.
Managing stress is to on an ongoing basis is to use the stress techniques that are most effective to be aware of the physical factors, eat nutritionally, take care of your body with climatic changes and handle emotions effectively.
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