Healthy Habits Series: Stress Relief Management

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Stress is a very big problem for most people. Stress causes chemical changes in the body that adversely affect our health and well-being. By learning to reduce and manage our stress we can do much to increase our lifespan and live more balanced and peaceful lives.

Studies have shown that high levels of success contribute to diseases as diverse as depression, insomnia, heart disease, skin disorders and headaches. Stress is triggered by our "flight or fight" response system. When we are in a stressful situation this system is triggered which releases chemicals and hormones into the body, which prepare us for fight or flight. Though this is useful in a life or death situation in which we are in physical danger it is not useful and can be detrimental when we are simply sitting in traffic or doing some else where physical action is impossible.

We also must be aware that there are in fact two types of stress. There is acute stress and there is chronic stress. Acute stress is the short term fight or flight response whereas chronic stress is a longer time condition. It is chronic stress, which is the main contributor to disease and ill health and where we need to find ways to gain relief.

When we are in a chronic stress situation the body sends the message to the pituitary gland, which releases a chemical known as ACTH. This chemical is known as the "stress hormone". When this chemical is released it stimulates the adrenal gland to produce and release Cortisol. High levels of cortisol contribute to insomnia and an inability to go to sleep or calm down.

Stress also has other effects. When we are stressed the following happens: our blood sugar rises, additional red blood cells are released, peripheral blood vessels constrict, pulse quickens, blood pressure rises and digestion stops. It is easy to see how this can have a detrimental effect on the natural balance that the body needs to maintain optimum health.

ACTIVITY

There are many ways to prevent stress. Start with trying simple relaxation methods such as meditation or walking. Both of these activities are helpful in preventing chronic stress. Mindfulness and peacefulness also contribute to a healthier approach to life and lower overall stress levels. Cultivate these approaches and watch your stress levels go down. You can also ask your nutritionist about vitamins for stress. These two things can aid greatly in your stress relief management. Over time this will have a beneficial effect on your health.