Twenty Five Strategies for Stress

Dr. Ronald Klatz
Dr. Robert Goldman

HB TreatmentsA hormone produced by the body when under stress, cortisol, is associated with a dozen or more serious degenerative diseases and has been found in some studies to be present in elevated levels in the last days of life. Numerous studies have shown that your health is greatly affected by how you react to stressful events in life – setbacks or deadlines at work, conflicts, and losses at home. By the same token, changing your reactions, learning to meditate or to do other relaxation techniques, and generally committing to a positive, open attitude toward life can help make you younger, reducing your biological age and expanding your abilities to maintain a vigorous and energetic lifestyle.

What is Stress?
More than half a century ago, Dr. Hans Selye recognized the mind-body connection involved with stress, as all of his patients had similar physiological and psychological characteristics. Two of which were loss of appetite and increased blood pressure. Further studies found that rats exhibited these same physical responses when they were put under stress. Selye concluded that stress is “the non-specific response of the body to any demand placed upon it.” However, according to Selye, it is not stress that harms us but distress. Distress occurs when we prolong emotional stress and don’t deal with it in a positive manner.

Dr. Selye referred to our bodies’ response to stress – or distress – as the general adaptation syndrome (GAS). GAS consists of three different stages: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. The alarm stage is comparable to the well-known “fight or flight” response, during which the body releases the hormone cortisol and prepares either to battle whatever is threatening it or to retreat form it.

However, since many modern-day stressors are not physical things we can run from and escape from immediately, the alarm stage is lengthened leading up to the next phase, the stage of resistance. This stage allows us to adjust our bodies to counteract the physiologic changes that occur in response to the stress. However, if the stress factor does not disappear, the third stage occurs, exhaustion. It is during exhaustion that the body crates a situation of distress, and responses can range from extreme fatigue to disease and possibly death.

Our response to stress can be negative, creating a physical change in the body. If your reaction to negotiating a big business deal is not pleasurable suspense, but a killing anxiety, then your body will probably respond with a headache or stomachache, and your immune system may become weaker as well. This type of negative stress creates a number of ailments, from mental frustration, anxiety, and depression to headaches, allergies, ulcers, and heart disease. In the long run, negative responses to stress can wear down the immune system, potentially leading to cancer and other diseases traditionally associated with aging.

Doctors at King’s College Hospital in London found that out of 100 women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer, 50 percent had experienced at least on severe adverse event (for example, the breakup of a marriage or the death of a close family member) in the past year.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School interviewed 1,623 heart attack victims four days after the attack and discovered that angry episodes doubled their risk of a heart attack - which often occurred a mere two hours after the outburst.

Some long-term habits and practices can generally lower the level of stress in your life. The following twenty-five stress-relieving, anti-ageing strategies can help you to function at a biological age that is far lower than your chronological age, so that you can live longer and enjoy life more:
  1. Take a siesta – that is, a short nap:  These twenty- to thirty-minute naps are best taken midday, since it is at this time that the body’s metabolism is a t its lowest. Taking afternoon naps also fits in with your body’s natural circadian rhythm.

  2. Do not ever assume that your children’s success or failure is completely the result of your parental influence: By not accepting our children for who they are, a stressful burden is placed not only on you as a parent but also on the entire family unit.

  3. Spend high-quality time with friends: Social relationships are not only fun, they’re necessary for good mental health, as well. When our internal resources are depleted, the comfort of close friends can help lessen our worries and burdens.

  4. Become more spiritual, either through an organized religion or through your own personal meditations: People who are affiliated with religious or spiritual groups are usually tapped into three powerful stress reducers: forgiveness, hope, and understanding.

  5. Adopt a pet:  Various studies have shown pet owners to live not only longer lives, but happier, more fulfilled lives as well, and like human friends, a pet can show devotion and bring necessary companionship, closeness, and comfort to anyone’s life.

  6. Take up a hobby or develop a new interest: If you truly enjoy doing something, stress will evaporate on its own.

  7. Use of time-management techniques: A daily planner or a daily list of “things to do” cannot only be very productive but can relieve stress as well. By listing what we need to accomplish, we reduce our risk of trying to do too many things at once, thus burning ourselves out physically and mentally.

  8. Examine your surroundings: If you feel the source of your stress is coming from where you live, for example, a major city or urban area, you might want to consider moving to a calmer, quieter place of residence. However, if moving is not an option perhaps forming a closer sense of community with your neighbours may help ease some of the stresses related to your living situation.

  9. Think outside the box: Sometimes something as simple as a mere change in the way we think about things can help reduce stress in our lives. For example, start perceiving your commute to work – be it by train, plane, or automobile – as an opportunity to relax, reflect, prepare, or meditate, rather than as an aggravation.

  10. Keep a careful check on your finances: Money, whether we have too little or too much, can become a huge emotional strain. Be prudent and be smart. Try to realize that you have value and quality as a human being. More important, the quality of your life is not determined by how much money you have. Ultimately, material items become a burden, and many wealthy people find they are slaves to their possessions.

  11. Practice the art of meditation and relaxation: Studies have shown that people who take time out of the day to devote to these activities have lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease.

  12. Smile!  Scientist have actually discovered a connection between the facial muscles used when smiling and an area of the brain that releases “feel-good” neurochemicals.

  13. Communicate clearly:  By improving your communication skills, you cannot only reduce stress but also unneeded frustration, anger, and resentment in your life. Mixed signals are never pleasant to give or to receive. It important to be a better communicator, this means a listening as well as speaking.

  14. Get moving: Exercising more will not only lower your anxiety levels, but will also decrease any feelings of depression and low self-esteem. It is probably one of the most essential elements of any stress-reducing program.

  15. Change your diet: Perhaps the extra pound you are carrying around is adding to the extra internal or mental pounds you have been carrying as well. A healthy change of diet will help you feel more alive, more energized, and happier overall.

  16. Cut back on alcohol consumption: While many people view alcohol as a way to escape from stress, it never reduces it. In reality, drinking more than two ounces of alcohol daily has been shown to raise blood pressure, inflame tempers, damage brain cells, and eventually increase stress levels.

  17. Say no to that second cup: Caffeine is one of the most agitating substances your body can consume. By substituting a decaffeinated beverage for that usual cup of coffee, you’ll remain much calmer and reduce the jitters associated with caffeine.

  18. Stop smoking! By quitting right now, you can significantly improve your current sate of health and live a longer life. Quitters can expect to notice improved lung function within days, a decreased risk of coronary heart disease within a year, and a diminished risk for cancer within three years.

  19. Think positive: You may not want to be an eternal optimist, but do try to avoid being a perpetual pessimist. For maximum stress control, try being a little bit of both, so as neither to overextend yourself nor to become a total cynic. Negative thinking can cost you added years of a healthy life span.

  20. Do not second-guess past mistakes or failures: By dwelling in the past, we only end up harbouring feelings of guilt and remorse that should be let go. If you are going to remember past mistakes, try to evaluate them in a positive way. Life is an education. Sometimes negative events are our best learning experiences.

  21. Learn to assert yourself positively: Speak from your own point of view and help others understand what you are trying to convey.

  22. Learn to express your anger positively and respectfully:  Do not scream or act hostile. Positive anger can actually help us change stress into strength; destructive anger, on the other had, when turned inward can lead to setbacks to control our lives.

  23. Feel good about yourself: Convert feelings of low self-esteem, not into forms of stress but into forms of strength. Everyone experiences personal defeats and losses, and a key element to stress reduction is not to allow these setbacks to control our lives.

  24. Tie the knot!  Studies show that married people are healthier than single people. In fact, married people have been reported to reduce their risk of illness, accidents, and death by up to 50 percent!

Get a regular medical checkup:   Not only can checkups be comforting if the doctor confirms that you are in good health, but they are also an indispensable method of preventing any minor health problems from becoming inclusive, paying particular attention to the very early detection of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and metabolic disorders.