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Stress Busting

By: Corinna Underwood - Updated: 20 May 2012 | comments*Discuss
Stress Anxiety Sleep Work Energy

Do you ever have that feeling that there are not enough hours in a day? A towering pile of things-to-do is growing in every corner of your life. You are watching the clock trying to slow the fingers down. Your have a constant headache, feel exhausted yet have difficulty getting a good night's sleep. Sound familiar? The guilty culprit is stress. It is lurking in the most innocuous places like your appointment book, the kid's car pool, the dry cleaners, and probably nowhere more than your boss's office. Stress is everywhere.

Believe it or not stress doesn't have to be your enemy. In moderate amounts it can improve performance and productivity. But if you're grinding your teeth until your jaw aches, and the person in the mirror looks familiar but is glaring back, you're probably have too much of the stuff and if you don't do something soon it could kill you. Stress is linked to each of the six leading causes of death - heart disease, cancer, lung diseases, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide. That's an impressive line-up but you can beat stress and it could be one of the most important things you ever do in your life.

Shifting Stressors

Lack of control over work and its environment have been shown to be critical stress inducers. If the grip of stress has you dreading work each morning you can relax, it is possible to dissipate work stress without having to give up your job. The first thing to do is examine the environment itself. Look for physical annoyances such as noise levels, glaring lights, or, dangerous equipment. Adjust your workspace as much as you can to provide a more relaxed setting. Don't make a habit of working through your lunch break. That time is important not just for eating, but also for physically separating yourself from your workspace.

You may well be overburdened with the amount of work you have. Assess your situation rationally and if your boss is expecting you to do the work of two people then they should know about it. Alternatively, what may have started, as helping out a co-worker has now become a regular burden. If a colleague is piling some of her work on you, don't just clench your teeth, put it back on her own desk!

Food and Mood

You are of course much more than what you eat but food does play an important role not only in your health, but also your mood and so can affect whether or not your stressometer is up in the hot zone. Meals should be small and regular throughout the day to avoid big swings in blood sugar and insulin levels. Alcohol should be avoided. Although it's a natural muscle relaxant, too much can actually increase stress. Dr. J.P. Saleeby, holistic practitioner from Savannah, Georgia, recommends plenty of protein. He explains; "protein can raise energy levels by increasing brain chemicals called catecholamines." So a lunch including low-fat cheese, tofu or nuts can give you a second wind for the afternoon and so help you keep stress in moderation. Vitamins B2, C and D also help to relieve stress. There are also a range of supportive herbs including catnip, Kava Kava, Passion flower and ginger.

Let's Get Physical

Exercise is an excellent stress buster, and you don't have to bench-press 200 pounds for fifteen reps. to make it work for you. Some of the most effective stress reducing exercise routines involve gentle stretching techniques such as Tai Chi, yoga or Chi Gong. As well as helping to reduce stress levels through physical movement, these approaches all use controlled breathing techniques to help you focus on yourself and to relax. Though breathing is vital it's something that we too often take for granted. If you're under stress chances are your breathing will be quick and shallow, increasing muscle tension. Gentle exercise helps you to focus on your breathing and learn to develop a deeper and more regular rhythm. This is also why meditation or creative visualization works so well.

The Twilight Zone

Surveys have shown that many Canadians and Americans do not get sufficient sleep. If you're still counting sheep after midnight the first thing you should is relax. Worrying about not being able to sleep is, believe it or not, a common causal factor of insomnia. Don't lie tossing and turning till dawn. If you can't sleep get up and read a book or watch TV in another room, you should keep the bed just for sleeping, that way it'll eventually be the only thing you do there. Another important thing to remember is not to get up for a snack if you wake with the midnight munchies. It you do, you're rewarding your body for waking you and it will happen more often. If you're desperate for a good night's sleep, Dr. Saleeby recommends Valerian as a natural supplement. It is non-addictive and can help to ease you back into a regular sleeping pattern.

By following a combination of the above will be sure to help your stress levels, and before you know it you'll be feeling younger, healthier, more energetic and you'll have one less concern about weight gain.

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