Monthly Archives: April 2018

Top 10 Questions About Stress

Stress. What is it really? What do we mean when we say “I can’t take the pressure?” Or “I’m stressed out?” Am I really? Is it a bad thing? Or do I actually need stress to get me going? A lot can be involved when we start a discussion about stress. And it’s important to understand a problem before we can begin to find solutions for it.

Let’s tackle the basics here with 10 top questions about stress:

1. What is stress?

When we talk about stress, we really should be talking about the “stress reaction.” Okay, so what is the stress reaction? In short, it is an evolved survival mechanism. Our senses transmit information about a situation and our mind has to make its mind up; Am I safe or under threat? If the decision is ‘under threat,’ the mind activates the ‘fight or flight’ response. This then equips the body to proceed with that course of action. It can occur in an instant, often before you are even consciously aware that there is a threat present. It’s about gearing you up to deal with the threat in order to survive, and then restoring you to your former (unstressed) state, once the threat has abated.

2. Is there a difference between pressure and stress?

The problem today with these words is that they have become so commonly used and now carry a host of meanings. Let’s keep it simple. Let’s think of ‘pressure’ (sometimes referred to as a stressor) as the thing that is applied to us and ‘stress,’ or more accurately, our ‘stress response’ as the response to that pressure. An example; your boss drops a big pile of paperwork on your desk requiring it to be completed by the end of the day (that’s the pressure being applied), You, upon seeing this, then stand up, scream and run out of the office (that’s your stress response).

3. What is acute stress?

Some dangers and threats are immediate. Back in the day, when we were living in caves, hunting and foraging for food to live, our bodies evolved to handle the various threats we encountered. Upon realizing that we were in the presence of a dangerous predator, say a sabre-toothed tiger, the stress response was immediate and all-consuming. Our breathing and heart rates soared, our adrenaline pumped, and all our energies focused on our immediate survival. This exemplifies acute stress. It demands a big response from your body, and hopefully it won’t need to be maintained for to long.

4. What is chronic stress?

Some dangers and threats last over a longer term. Back to the caveman. In addition to sabre-toothed tigers, there were other threats to survival. There were periods of hunger, competition for scarce resources, hostile environments, and a host of other daily physical challenges. Our bodies also used the stress response to adapt to these long-term threats. When food was scarce, our metabolisms and other bodily functions would slow down so our continued survival required less food. When bountiful times returned, so would our daily food requirements. This exemplifies chronic stress. It is our body’s way of surviving those longer term threats or challenges.

5. There’s no sabre-toothed tigers today, why should stress affect me now?

Whilst the stress response itself has not greatly changed, what we deem a threat has. Thanks to our mind’s ability to recall past events and think about future possibilities, we are capable of activating our stress response when simply imagining a threatening situation. So, unlike the Zebra who is only able to focus on the immediate threats, we can worry about a threat that might occur tomorrow, next week or next month, and subsequently activate our stress response. And the situation need not be life-threatening for our mind to perceive a threat and thus activate the stress response.

6. Do we all get stressed out by the same things?

The short answer is no. Take the example of Christmas. To some, it is a wonderful time for celebration, relaxation and reflection. To others, it is an incredibly stressful time that begins with the annual ritual of untangling the tree lights and ends only after the last straggling relative has gone home for another year. How can this be? Christmas is Christmas. This is true. The day itself, the 25th of December, is the same for everyone. But the values, customs, social beliefs, and past experiences that we bring to a situation determine its effect on us. Thus to some, Christmas is a source of great joy while to others, it can be a significant stressor.

7. Does my own mindset affect how stressed I get?

Absolutely yes, and in a number of ways. One of the things that determines how we will respond to something stressful is our perception of our ability to cope. Do we have the capacity (physically, psychologically and emotionally) to handle the threat or challenge that we are facing? What it boils down to is whether or not we believe we have control of the situation. If we believe that we do not, we may experience an increased stress reaction, maybe even to the point of panic mode. If that happens, we may become unable to decide upon a course of action, and indeed, lose control of the situation.

8. How does stress affect me?

There are three key ways in which stress affects us.

Physically: Some of the ways that stress can manifest itself in your body are sleep disruption, tiredness, muscle tension, lack of energy, headaches and viral infections.

Psychologically: These may be a little harder to spot and include lower motivation, negative thoughts, the inability to switch off, negative self-talk and anxiousness.

Behaviourally: There are some behavioural changes caused by stress that you might want be on the lookout for, like working through breaks, craving energy boosters, changes in appetite, teeth grinding and taking work home, becoming irritable, withdrawing.

While any of these warning signs may also point to other issues besides stress, and therefore consider seeking professional medical advice, do consider whether stress is a contributing factor.

9. Is stress all bad?

There is actually a positive purpose for stress, when used and managed properly. The stress response is activated as a result of our brain perceiving a need for action. The stress response engages our body, and we get moving. When the alarm goes off in the morning, it is the stress response that tells our brain that we need to get out of bed. The brain then tells the body, and alas, we get out of bed.

10. What could happen if I don’t manage my stress?

The stress response evolved to help us out of sticky situations, but it was meant to be turned on for short periods of time when needed, then turned off. However, if the stress response turns into chronic stress, it can contribute to the development of serious physical conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, stomach problems and even cancer. It can also lead to psychological issues such as clinical depression, anxiety and panic disorders.

To sum it up, the stress response is our body’s way of reacting to a threat. We respond to the situation at hand and return to our normal state when the threat has been resolved. It evolved to deal with short and even long-term physical threats, so problems arise when we can endure long-term psychological stress response activation. Over time, this kind of chronic stress can lead to real physical, psychological and emotional problems. Understanding how the stress response works, and applying stress management strategies to your life will go a long way toward preventing these kinds of problems in your life.

10 Ways to Eliminate Stress

Sometimes it can seem as if there’s nothing you can do about your stress level. When you are operating from your logical brain, the brain says things like… “The bills aren’t going to stop coming, there will never be more hours in the day for all of the errands I need to run, and my career and family responsibilities must be done or calamity will strike”.

Most of us become so acclimated to stress in our daily lives, that it becomes our second nature and we do not know what it is that causes stress. The answer is, what causes stress are the thoughts that we are thinking. When we experience stress it is because our thoughts are aligned with a potential consequence (in other words the absence of what we want to have happen) instead of the outcome which we desire. We are operating out of fear. It is easier to understand this difference when thinking about the example of two athletes. One athlete enjoys their sport and is confident in their own self worth. Therefore when this athlete steps up to the starting line, their thoughts are aligned with winning and the fun of the race. The emotions flooding this athlete’s system are ones of anticipation and excitement and enjoyment of their sport. The other athlete may be struggling with self worth and lacking confidence and so when they step up to the starting line, their thoughts are not aligned with “winning”, instead their thoughts are aligned with “not losing”. The possibility of loosing and the consequences of such an outcome cause the emotions flooding this athlete’s system to be those of stress and anxiety and because of this they do not enjoy their sport like they normally would without the presence of stress.

The stress response floods your body with chemicals that prepare you for “fight or flight.” In other words, it prepares you for consequences. The problem is we live in a physical reality where we all create our own reality based on the thoughts that we are chronically thinking. And the emotions we feel (such as stress) are the indication of what types of experiences we are creating for ourselves in our lives. If you are mentally aligned with undesired results (trying to avoid them through effort and action) you will feel stress and if the stress becomes chronic, you will inevitably end up creating the very undesired results you are aligned with (pushing against). This is an attraction based universe. Meaning whatever you say “no” to, you are attracting into your experience and whatever you say “yes” to, you are attracting into your experience. You can not say “no” to a thing and not be holding that very thing you are saying “no” to as your primary focus. And whatever you focus on will come to be in the physical dimension.

But the truth of the matter is that you have a lot more control than you might think. In fact, the simple realization that you’re in control of your life and that you control your life with your thoughts is the foundation of stress management.

Managing stress is all about taking charge. And making the way you feel the priority of your life. Reducing stress is about taking charge of your thoughts (and subsequently your emotions), your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems. You don’t need to fear stress. You can instead learn how to recognize it within yourself, label it for what it is and see it as a beneficial red flag which has been raised in order to tell you that you are not living your life the way you want to live your life or deserve to live your life. Here are 10 ways to help you eliminate stress in your life.

1. Identify your true sources of stress as well as the unhealthy coping strategies you may be using to avoid stress. Look closely at your habits, attitude, and excuses.

Do you define stress as an integral part of your work or home life by identifying with beliefs like “Things are always crazy around here” or as a part of your personality by aligning with beliefs like “I am just a naturally anxious person”, or “I am just a worrier… that’s all”. Do you have the habit of explaining away stress as temporary when it is not? Do you say things like “I just have a million things going on right now” despite the fact that you can’t remember the last time you took a breather? Do you blame your stress on other people or outside events instead of recognizing the damaging beliefs or thought patterns which attract people and events which increase your stress levels into your life? Do you view your stress as entirely normal and therefore unexceptional? Until you accept responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining stress, your stress level will remain outside your control. Do you practice coping strategies which temporarily reduce stress but cause more damage in the long run such as:

• Smoking
• Drinking
• Overeating or under eating
• Trying to avoid stressors by spending hours in front of the TV or computer
• Withdrawing from friends, family, and activities
• Using pills or drugs to relax
• Escaping by sleeping too much
• Procrastinating
• Filling up every minute of the day with things to do so as to avoid facing problems


• Taking out your stress on others (lashing out, angry outbursts, physical violence)

It is very important when you are plotting your course to where you want to be in life, to first be honest with yourself about where you are currently. Realize that where you are is just where you are. There is nothing keeping you there but you. And recognize that you not only want your life to feel better but you also are committed to finding a way to feel better.

2. Change the way you are thinking.

How you think has a profound effect on your emotional and physical well-being. Each time you think a negative thought about yourself or your life, your body reacts as if it were in the throes of a tension-filled situation. If you think positive thoughts about yourself and your life, your body will react by releasing chemicals which make you feel good. Work to eliminate words such as “always,” “never,” “should,” and “must.” from your vocabulary. These definitive statements are very conducive to thoughts which are self-defeating and create stress.

Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Many things in life are beyond our control (things like the behavior of other people for example). Rather than stressing out about the things you can’t control, focus on the things that you can control. The only things we have real control over in our lives are our own thoughts. The more control we learn to have over our own thoughts, the more power we will have in our lives. Our thoughts are the one thing no one else can choose for us. The more power we feel that we have in life, the less stress we will feel. You can not feel free and relaxed when you continue to focus on things which make you feel powerless and which you can not control. So, learn to let go of them.

Reframe problems. Learn to think positively by practicing thinking thoughts about yourself and your life that feel better to you when you think them. Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective. For example, rather than panicking about a traffic jam, look at it as an opportunity to pause and regroup, listen to your favorite radio station, or enjoy some alone time. When stress is getting you down, take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts. This simple strategy can help you keep things in perspective.

Look at the big picture. Learn to view your stressful situation from a different perspective. Ask yourself how important it will be in the long run. Will it matter in a month? Will it matter in a year? Is it really worth getting upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere. Perfectionism is a major source of avoidable stress. Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection. Perfection is a completely subjective concept. Perfection is in the eye of the beholder. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others. And learn to love yourself the way you are instead of basing your worthiness on what you present or produce in life. Many of us are goal oriented. We see happiness as an end result. A destination we get to and then the journey stops. The truth is it never stops. You will never “get it all done”. The process of living is one of continual evolution, when we achieve something we desire, we do not stop desiring. Instead, we desire something else. This is the way life was intended to be. So, the point of life is enjoying the process (every aspect of the process). Sometimes if you just accept that you will never get it all done and there will always be more you are reaching for, you can let yourself off the hook of trying to get everything finished right here and now as soon as you possibly can.

3. Figure out what makes you happy.

By the time many of us are dealing with stress, we are standing in adulthood surrounded by a life which has not been deliberately created. Instead, it has been created by default. This means that we have based our goals and desires not off of what makes us happy. But instead off of what satisfies the priorities of others (especially authority figures in our early life and society as a whole). Many of us have lost touch with what makes us happy. The risk of placing value on what makes you happy and who you really are often feels like the risk of not being loved for what is real about yourself. It can also feel like the risk of being seen as a failure by others (which is a threat to most people’s sense of self worth) so it is easy to see how placing value on what makes you truly happy can be a very frightening proposition. But until you reveal your true desires and what truly makes you happy, it is not possible to be truly happy. If you have lost touch with what makes you happy, one of the best ways to get back in touch with it, is to think back to your natural inclinations as a child. Make a long list of things you knew you loved when you were a child. Make a list of your natural talents as a child and try to remember what you wanted to be when you grew up. Now, after you make that list, make sure to ask yourself why. Why did you love those things? Why did you possess those natural talents? Why did you want to grow up to be those things? Then ask yourself “do I still enjoy and practice these things?” If not…why? Can I remember what caused me to stop? Was it because of someone else? Do I remember how it felt to stop doing those things? And then, take step forward by trying some of these things you once loved to do… again.

From here, fast forward. Ask yourself what your favorite part of your entire life was so far and why that particular point was your favorite part of your life. Get as detailed as you can in order to discover the true reason you enjoyed it so much. And after that, ask yourself what you enjoy about the life you are living in now? What am I passionate about in my life currently? Have I devoted those things to the back burner, or are they the primary focus of my life? This process will help you to understand what it is that you truly enjoy separate of your conditioned and logical brain which (being mechanical in nature) has often been taught to minimize feeling states such as joy and passion.

Finding your own personal idea of happiness (which is very individual) is an incredibly important component to stress reduction, because vibrationally speaking, happiness is a state which is totally absent of stress.

4. Seek to gain tools which work for YOU to reduce stress.

There are many sources and products which exist worldwide whose sole purpose is to help you to reduce stress. So, seek them out! Begin by making a list of things which you can already identify that help you to reduce stress. When stress comes up, get in the habit of going to the list and picking something off of the list to do. Set out to learn and practice relaxation techniques. The relaxation response brings your system back into balance. It deepens your breathing, reducing stress hormones, slows down your heart rate and blood pressure, and relaxes your muscles. In addition to its calming physical effects, research shows that the relaxation response also increases energy and focus, combats illness, relieves aches and pains, heightens problem-solving abilities, and boosts motivation and productivity. Relaxation techniques may include things such as Emotional Freedom Technique, deep breathing, visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, yoga, tai chi, massage, stretching or aromatherapy.

5. Make your physical health a priority.

The body is an incredibly reflective instrument. When the mind is thinking negative, stressful thoughts, those thoughts are reflected in the body. But it is also true that when the body is kept in a state of negativity and stress, that stress and negativity is reflected in the mind. So, it is very helpful to take control of your physical health.

Exercise Regularly. Exercise does not have to be a source of more stress. In fact it can be a great stress reducer if you can find an exercise that you enjoy doing instead of simply exercising for the sake of exercise. Physical activity helps to increase the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Endorphins are natural pain killers and they make you feel “happy”. They are responsible for the well known “runner’s high”. Exercise forces tense muscles (through use), to release their state of tension. Exercise can also be like a meditation in motion. You’ll often find that you’ve forgotten the day’s irritations and concentrated purely on your body’s movements when you are exercising. And it helps you release pent up stressful energy. As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything that you do. Exercise also can improve your quality of sleep.

Eat healthy, well-balanced meals. You are what you eat. A nutritious diet can counteract the impact of stress, by reinforcing the immune system and lowering blood pressure. Comfort foods (like mashed potatoes) have been shown to boost levels of serotonin, a calming brain chemical. Other foods can reduce levels of cortisol and adrenaline (stress hormones that take a toll on the body). Stressed people tend to gain weight, and make food choices which are not conducive to health. There is a lot of information available from experts on diets which specifically reduce stress as well as many herbal supplements that have been shown to diminish stress. Go looking for them and try to implement the suggestions. You will be surprised by the results! It is important that you don’t rely on sugar, caffeine, alcohol or other drugs to reduce stress. Relying on such things not only creates physical or mental dependency, it harms your body in the long run.

Get enough rest and sleep. Sleep deprivation is chronic in our culture. Sleep deprivation is one of the chief aggravators of stress. Lack of sleep increases levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Sleep deprivation also affects the immune system (depleting certain cells needed to destroy viruses and cancerous cells), it promotes the growth of fat instead of muscle, and speeds up the aging process. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events. Adequate sleep fuels your mind, as well as your body. Feeling tired will increase your stress because it may cause you to think irrationally. When you are tired, you are less patient and easily agitated which can increase stress. And then, to make matters worse, you will not have the energy to deal with the stress. Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Start to make sleep a priority. Start to see it as a necessity not a luxury.

6. Learn to manage your time more effectively.

In this physical dimension, we lead linear lives. No matter how skilled any of us may think we are at multi-tasking, when it comes to action, we can only be in one place at one time. What’s more, we can only really do one task well in each moment. For the average man or woman, day to day life is a whirlwind of frantic activity. Life is composed of rushing from one task to another while still not really accomplishing anything of value at the end of the day. It is therefore very useful to learn to manage our time more effectively. Using time more effectively helps to eliminate stress by making order of chaos. It is very helpful to reduce stress by getting organized. No one can think clearly when they are surrounded in a physical environment which is chaotic. So begin by cleaning and organizing your environment.

A mental environment which is cluttered is conducive to stress and ineffective time management as well. One way to combat this kind of chaos is to learn how to write lists and then prioritize. Set clear goals and break your goals down into discreet steps. To be effective, you need to decide what tasks are urgent and important and to focus on those. Devote the majority of your time to the most important tasks. Trying to remember everything in your head is a recipe for stress. When you do not have to worry about remembering everything (because it is written down) you will be more able to accomplish the things and also your stress levels will diminish. Writing lists helps you identify important objectives, helps you order your thoughts, helps you prioritize, helps you see the big picture, saves time, helps you feel in control, helps you track your progression, and makes you much less likely to forget to do things.

Identify areas of your life where you are wasting time and come up with a plan to reduce them. It may help to even enlist the help of others to help you stick to it. It may help some people to also develop a routine so they can know what to focus on when. One useful way to develop a routine and thereby eliminate wasted time is to use a time log. To do this, make up a chart for the next seven days divided into half hour intervals starting the log at the time you get up and finish it at the time you go to bed. Write down what you do during each half hour of the day for the next seven days. Choose a typical week. At the end of the week examine your time log and ask yourself the following questions: Are there any periods that I could use more productively? At what time of day do I do my most effective work? (Some people are most alert in the morning, whilst others concentrate best during the afternoon or evening). Schedule your most important tasks for these times of day. Eliminate wasted time by replacing it with activities that are conducive to a more fulfilling, enjoyable and productive lifestyle.

7. Express your emotions.

We currently live in a society that does not understand the value and role of emotions. We live in a society which also tends to promote repression instead of expression. But unexpressed emotions affect your life. Start to label your emotions. This will help you to identify them when they come up. Emotions are transient. They will dissipate as they are expressed. The only type of emotion that lingers is repressed emotion. If something or someone is bothering you, voice your concerns in an open and respectful way. If you don’t voice your feelings, not only will resentment will build but the situation will likely remain the same. You may want to use physical expression as a route to releasing emotions. Make sure you chose a physical activity that will not harm another person or yourself. Some good ways to express anger and stress include punching pillows, screaming into pillows, taking out a pen and paper and writing what you feel, painting or drawing what you feel, hitting the ground with a stick, popping balloons, taking a kickboxing class, going for a run or trying to get yourself to cry. It will feel good to get the tears flowing. It will surprise you how much better this will make you feel. The emotions will no longer be like a wall preventing you from moving forward if you express them in a healthy way.

8. Keep your life simple and learn how to say no.

Keeping life simple isn’t always easy. Simplicity is especially hard to attain in this fast paced century which we are currently living in. We often lose track of why we are doing what we are doing. We go so fast and create such busy, complicated lives that we forget that we have control of our lives. Instead it feels like our lives are running us.

The human ego loves complexity because it measures worth in quantity instead of quality. It also bases it’s self off of comparison with others. Our ego relies on fear to protect itself and complexity is a great place to hide. Simplicity therefore, requires dedication. Begin the quest towards simplicity by asking yourself honestly what areas of your life you feel need to be simplified. Identify what is holding you back from simplifying them. Eliminate the clutter and unnecessary aspects of your life. Get rid of stuff you don’t use. Stop trying to please everyone. Instead, simply do what you intuitively feel that you know is right. Finish one project before you start another. Dedicate more time with what is really important in your life. Don’t buy stuff you don’t need. While it is perfectly fine to desire a life of wealth, as well as work on creating it in your life, there is almost nothing worse for adding to stress levels than living beyond your means. This will set up a dynamic of focusing on the amount of money you don’t have. Aim at living below your means. This does not mean you should live in an attitude of denying yourself what you desire. It simply means making decisions that ensure that you will end up with excess and therefore be focusing on the feeling of abundance instead of lack. Consolidate everything you can find to consolidate. Permit yourself to enjoy the present moments of your life (the now). It is important also to know your limits and to stick to them. In both your personal or professional life, refuse to accept added responsibilities, especially when you’re close to reaching goals. Taking on more than you can handle instantly gives rise to stress.

Many of us fear saying no. We think that to say no is selfish. And we often feel as if saying yes is the only way to earn the love of others. But, love which must be earned is not real love. And it is not selfish to ensure our own happiness because when we are happy and feeling stress free, we have the energy and resources to devote to others. When we are unhappy and feeling stressed, we often become ill and have no energy to devote to others anyway. When you say no to a new commitment which would add stress to your life, you’re honoring your existing obligations and ensuring that you’ll be able to devote quality time to them. Burying yourself in commitments ensures that you will begin to feel just that…buried. Saying no may not be the easiest thing to do. But sometimes it is the necessary ingredient for practicing self care as well as eliminating stress from your life.

9. Make time for fun and relaxation by finding healthy ways to relax and recharge and giving yourself permission to do so.

The sad fact about stress is that most people who experience stress have their priorities backwards. For example, they may think that perfection is the most important thing in life or that responsibility is the most important thing in life. What they fail to recognize is the very reason for which they seek out perfection or responsibility. And the reason is this… they think they will feel better when they produce something which is perfect or when they are responsible than they would in the absence of perfection or responsibility. It is therefore important for those suffering from stress to realize that the sole reason for doing those things they “have to do” comes from the motivation of feeling better… in other words… happiness. This means that all people most especially those who suffer from stress would do very well to cut to the chase and make the priority of their lives (their true motivation) how they feel. It is important for the highest priority in a person’s life to be none other than… happiness. The things which each specific person finds enjoyable and relaxing varies but some ideas for healthy ways to relax and recharge include:

• Call a good friend
• Spend time outside
• Take a bath
• Sweat out tension with a good workout
• Write in a journal
• Savor a warm cup of tea
• Make yourself one of your comfort foods
• Spend time with a pet (pets have been shown to dramatically reduce stress)
• Get a massage.
• Play a game
• Read a book
• Drive to a place with an amazing view
• Listen to music
• Watch a comedy movie
• Connect with others. Spending time with positive people who enhance your life. A strong support system will buffer you from the negative effects of stress

One of the greatest ways to reduce stress in your life is to make sure that you do something you enjoy and which recharges your engine every day. It does not have to be done alone. In fact, these kinds of activities can be used to re charge the entire family.

10. Never underestimate the power of laughing. Seek out and create opportunities which will make you laugh.

It turns out that laughter may just be the best medicine of all. You have probably noticed that laughter is infectious. Laughter binds people together and increases happiness and intimacy. Humor lightens your burdens and inspires your hopes. Humor helps you to shift perspective and paints things in a less threatening light. It enhances resiliency and it also triggers healthy physical responses in the body. Laughter has been shown to strengthen the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thereby improving your resistance to disease. Like exercise, laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even relieve pain. Laughter has been shown to improve the function of blood vessels and increase blood flow which leads to improved heart health.

In studies, it has also been shown that a good, hearty laugh leaves your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes. Laughter protects you from the plethora of damaging effects which stress can cause to the body and the mind. It is fun and it also does not cost anything. So, when you are trying to eliminate stress from your life, try to indulge your laughter as much as you possibly can. Allow and seek out avenues for it to surface. You can even begin with a smile. Smiling is the beginning of laughter. It too is contagious. It too released endorphins. Seek out ways to develop your own sense of humor. Seek out that which is funny to you, whether it is renting a funny movie, calling up the friend who always makes you laugh or developing an arsenal of jokes to tell. As laughter becomes an integrated part of your life you will be taken to a mental space where you can view the world from a more relaxed, positive, and balanced perspective.

Many of us have the self defeating belief that everything that is worth having is hard won. But this belief ensures that we are going about life in the wrong way. We should approach things with much more ease. Doing things the hard way causes stress, and stress in actuality, keeps the desired results from you. If you are brave enough to make feeling good the primary priority of your life and then take the steps necessary to enable your own joy as well as reduce stress levels, you can find yourselves living the life that you want to live. A Life that feels good to be living. A life full of health and freedom and joy.

4 Ways to Relieve Stress and Live Longer

According to studies* stress does cause long term or chronic effects on the body. For example. Did you know that chronic stress can result in high blood pressure, abnormal heartbeat and heart failure? People with lots of stress also often have muscle pain, neck an shoulder pain and increased pain from rheumatoid arthritis. American businesses loose and estimated $200 – $300 billion dollars a year to stress related productivity loss and other costs and every week about 95 million Americans suffer some kind of stress related symptom that they take medication for.

But what is Stress exactly?

According to Lesa Burnha in her article ‘Stress your worst enemy’ 2004, Stress is not only a fact of life but a necessary one in small doses. Stress provides the energy boost we need to tackle life’s little hurdles each day. It can be caused by both good and bad experiences. Stress is a signal to the body to release chemicals that give you more energy and strength, which can be a good thing if you are in danger. But constant release of these chemicals over prolonged periods without an outlet can be bad for your health, even deadly.

Essentially there are four types of stress.

  1. Survival stress – this s the fight or flight response to physical danger. It is found in all people and animals. The body provides a burst of energy so you can survive a dangerous situation, fight, or escape, flight.
  2. Internal stress – is the stress most often caused by worry. Worry about things you have no control over is one of the most important types of stress to understand and control. Some people even get addicted to the hurried and tense lifestyle that results in chronic internal stress. These are the people that always seem to have something going on in their lives that induces stress.
  3. Environmental stress – is a reaction to things around you like constant noise, crowding and pressure at work or from family. You know how you have to have the TV or radio on when you are working. You may not realize it but that constant noise can add to your stress.
  4. Stress from overwork and tiredness – builds up over time. If you have difficulty managing your time this is a type of stress you may experience. It is also the stress that comes from an inability to relax and let go.

While a little stress is normal and necessary, constant or chronic stress, of periods of high stress from things like a foreclosure, losing a job and looking for work these days, or the loss of a loved one can cause physical and mental symptoms that ultimately compound the problem as well as adding new ones.

Common Physical Symptoms of Stress include

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Stiff neck
  • Tight shoulders
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Sweating
  • Sweaty Palms
  • Upset Stomach
  • GERD or Gastriesophageal Reflux Disease
  • COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Back Pain
  • Muscle Tension
  • Constipation
  • Burping
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Chest Pain
  • Feeling Faint or Dizzy
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hives or rashes

And this is the short list.

Stress can also affect your mind and your ability to think.

Some of the effects of stress on the mind include

  • Nervousness
  • Anxiousness
  • Irritability
  • Moodiness
  • Frustration
  • Impatience
  • Forgetfulness
  • Insomnia
  • Trouble focusing or thinking clearly
  • Harder to learn new things
  • Negative thoughts
  • Accident Prone
  • Nail biting

Just to name a few.

Have I gotten your attention now?

It is no wonder people are flocking to the doctors these days to get medication to treat some of these stress related issues. Scientists know that when you are experiencing more stress than usual the Serotonin, Noradrenalin, and dopamine in the brain begin to malfunction. Serotonin helps you sleep and sets your body clock. Noradrenalin gives you energy and dopamine gives pleasure and relieves pain. Doctors will give you medications that help your body regulate these and other chemical processes, but what are the side effects.

With the current climate of foreclosures and job scarcity it is no wonder more people are turning to the doctors for help. And, while there is little you can do to control the outside world, you can learn to control how you react to it and you can learn methods that will help you control your stress so you don’t become one of the statistics.

Please REMEMBER, However, the suggestions I offer here are only a few of the things you can do. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you stop any medications you may be currently taking without discussing it with your physician first. Use of any of these methods is purely voluntary and at your own risk. If you experience symptoms that may be life threatening like diabetes, chest pain or even hives for example seek medical help immediately. Now, with that said let’s try to reduce some of your stress shall we.

Laughter is the Best Medicine – the ability to laugh is probably the best holistic remedy available to beat stress. Did you know that when you laugh your body releases toxins and laughter activates your immune system?

Research results**indicate that there is a general increase in the activity of the immune system after exposure to humor. Some of these include

  • Increased number of natural killer cells that attack and kill infected cells and some types of CANCER and tumor cells.
  • Increase in activated T lymphocytes (T cells)
  • Increase in IgA or immunoglobulin A which fights infections of the upper respiratory tract
  • Increase in gamma interferon which ‘turns on’ various components of the immune system
  • A decrease in Stress hormones such as epinephrine that constrict blood vessels and suppress immune activity
  • Decreased levels of dopamine which involves the ‘fight or flight’ response

Laughter is aerobic and provides a workout for the diaphragm and increases your body’s ability to utilize oxygen more effectively. Laughter is a powerful distraction from pain when used in conjunction to congenital pain management. It is also responsible for bringing on positive emotions that can enhance conventional treatments for disease.

Possibly the best thing about Laughter is that it is FREE! And it may be one of the best medicines out there.

Exercise your Stress Away – we all know exercise is good for us. It improves blood flow and tones our muscles but did you know exercise can also fight stress. Exercise increases the blood flow through the brain and helps flush away the chemicals that result from stress. It can be responsible for releasing endorphins into your blood that give you a feeling of well-being. According to the Mayo Clinic any form of exercise can act as a stress reliever.

Exercise often is a means to escape from the everyday stress that plague us. After a good exercise session you will often find that the irritations of the day have vanished because you were concentrating on the movement of the exercise rather than the issues.

Regular exercise can improve mood and lessen depression as well as improving your sleep according to the Mayo Clinic. But that regular exercise doesn’t have to be a chore. Some things you can do that may not seem like exercise but have great benefits for reducing stress are

  • Ride a bike with your kids
  • Dance, alone, with friends, or at the club. Dance is a great aerobic exercise and the added benefit to reduced stress is weight loss
  • Walking is a low impact way to exercise and the benefits are widely known. I love to walk, personally, but find it hard to just go walk. One of the things I do is try to find a place to walk to. A nearby but not next door friend, the store, or I used to walk to the school or bus stop to pick up the kids. Walking the dog is also a good habit. It will also enhance your bond with the family pet.

Speaking of Pets – get a dog or cat. Did you know that people who own pets tend to live longer. It’s true. I don’t think anyone really knows why, but a pet cat or dog seems to be able to calm you. Blood pressure drops and tension is relieved when you hold and pet your dog or cat. It is as if you instinctively know that you need to be calm for them, so you are. And they know when you are upset so you may often find that your pet seems to be closer to you more often when you are under a lot of stress, so take advantage of it. Take a few minutes to hold and play with Fido or Fluffy. Sorry though, fish, birds, reptiles and other pets have not been shown to have the same affects, at least not yet.

Faith and or Religion

Turn to your religion, your faith if it applies to you. A strong belief system can help you let go of the problems that seem to follow you. There is a lot of truth in the prayer, God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. It is not my intention to promote any single religion or belief, only to suggest that if you have one, turning to it in times of stress can help.

Eliminate the Killer – Stress

By now you can see how stress can be a killer. It affects your mind and body. It causes you to seek out medications that have untold side effects. Personally I believe that medications can sometimes cause more harm than good. This is because I watched my grandmother go from needing one or two pills to needing a hand full to manage the side effects of the one or two she needed.

You see dozens of advertisements everyday talking about many of the symptoms I mentioned above. Any one of these can reduce your time on this earth and I for one want every minute the good lord sees fit to give me.

We all face stress every day, but there are things we can do to help alleviate it. I am not a doctor but I have had my fair share of stress and then some. My doctor told me once that I should already be dead due to the levels of stress I was living with. (This was shortly after my husband died). I began to look at what I did that kept me from suffering the effect of stress that my doctor warned me about back then and I realizes that I had already instinctively learned to utilize the methods above.

I laugh loudly, sometimes too loudly, and long whenever the mood strikes me. I also try to laugh at myself as often as I can. I have always gotten my exercise through dancing and walking. At times the walking being a necessity as I struggled in my youth with ‘clunkers’ that were constantly breaking down and leaving me with no transportation. I have always had dogs and cats around, even as a child and I try to live by the Serenity prayer every day.

If we can learn ways to relieve the day to day stress, as well as minimize chronic stress, we can reduce our tendency to suffer from many of the symptoms and diseases associated with stress like the ones I mentioned above.

Stress and How to Cope With It

Stress is a normal response to difficult situations. We often confuse it as some form of mental pressure caused due to our own inability to deal with things. But that’s not what it is. Stress is not an action, it’s a reaction. Stress is our reaction to various external factors.

Before we get to the whole coping part, first we need to understand a few things about stress that are essential.

1. Stress is not always bad

Stress is the body’s way of reacting to a challenge. When faced with a tough situation, there are a whole lot of reactions that the body goes through. Increased pulse rate, adrenaline boost, faster response to stimuli and among those, stress is one.

But the same stress that ‘stresses us out’, also makes us quicker and more prone to handle situations better. Stress makes us do our best. So it isn’t always a bad thing.

2. Stress varies from person to person

Some people are inherently calmer and more composed, compared to others. So, their reactions also are different. Stress levels change vastly across different people and are not to be compared at any stage.

If I can deal with a tough situation well that does not make another person’s stress or panic a bad thing. It is after all only a reaction.

3. Stress is not always an illness

There are a variety of stress related disorders. But just because a person is prone to stress, does not make them a patient. Stress disorders, like all other disorders are something that cannot be confirmed unless clinically diagnosed.

Thus, stress in daily life is as normal as it can be.

4. Stress always has a trigger

May not be something happening at the moment. Sometimes the trigger of stress goes back in time, that we don’t even recall the incident. That is because our mind is an expert at suppressing information that can be distressing. But no stress, ever comes without a trigger.

Stress that is positive or good for us in some way, is called Eustress and the one which makes us all panicky and unable to see straight is Distress.

Modern day MNCs encourage some amount of work stress to ensure that employees push ahead and don’t get too comfortable. Although as the position becomes more and more powerful, eustress becomes distress. Let us now look at some stress related disorders.

1. General Stress

This is your old school, before an exam, important day type of stress. It is so normal and so vastly experienced that if you don’t experience it, people think you’re a bit weird (in a good way of course!).

General stress requires nothing more than a few deep breaths and a cool glass of water. It goes away as fast as it came.

2. Acute Stress

This is in a way, the big brother of general stress. It is not in any way damaging, but it makes you completely frazzled and leaves you exhausted.

This would be the stress people experience when work load is doubled, during year end or when you study for a history test and get the math paper in hand. The situation is overloaded and so the brain becomes irritated and you start sweating and panicking.

Acute stress can also be dealt with the old ways, but the best thing to do is to simply let it pass.

3. Episodic Acute Stress

This is one of the serious types. It’s one thing to be stressed out, but something is off when a person gets worked out about almost everything. Even things that is not stressful. So be it their wedding day or their nothing day, there is something they will stress about.

For people with episodic stress, things get out of hand very quickly. Calm becomes chaos in the blink of an eye. They take on more than they can chew and at the moment of truth, they are about to explode.

Episodic stress patients are often studied for crisis management purposes just to get a grasp of how masses will respond to a situation.

4. Chronic Stress

While acute stress can be thrilling and exciting, chronic stress is not. This is the grinding stress that wears people away day after day, year after year. Chronic stress destroys bodies, minds and lives. It wreaks havoc through lives.

If you can imagine what the stress must be in a situation of war, then I assure, you can imagine what chronic stress is like. It requires medical help and proper treatment.

While Chronic Stress needs proper medical attention, the other forms of stress can be dealt with. One can even cultivate a habit to deal with it.

For people whose daily lives involve stress (stock brokers I see you!), these few tricks always come in handy.

Coping with stress

• Always, DEEP BREATHES. Don’t argue, simply follow. Breathe deeply and breathe often.

• Water. Drink it slowly and prolong the drink. Don’t gulp it all down and expect to be calm. The more time you take, the more time you get to process things.

• Use a stress ball. Those smiley faces aren’t a joke. They release tension from your muscles and that helps you relax physically.

• Be patient. Nothing is going to happen sooner than it is meant to, simply because you’re about to burst a nerve! Close your eyes and be patient.

• Be prepared, if you can. This is what you need to do before events that are inevitably going to happen (EXAMS). Be prepared well in advance. No stress.

• Count down from 100. With every number down, think like it’s one point of stress leaving your body. By the time you hit 0, you’ll be back to #1.

• Know you are human. Like seriously! There are limits to what you can and cannot achieve. So stop biting off more than you can chew. Accept only enough work and do it perfectly.

• Have some quiet time alone. Have some beverage (whatever you please) and let the negativity get out on its own.

Vitamins To Help You With Stress

Stress and Its Management Using Vitamins for Stress

Stress is a normal part of life. In fact, everyone gets their daily dose of stress-not just in the same levels. Stressful situations are often though of as negative experiences; however, stress can have positive effects. Stress in small doses can helpful; it can make a person stay alert and focus on the things that need to be done. Stress only becomes a problem when it is too much that it affects your daily activities.

Stress, in general, can be caused by a number of factors-both internal and external. External factors are the ones that involve your physical environment such as your job, your relationships, and other situations, difficulties, expectation, and challenges that are experienced on a day-to-day basis. Internal factors, meanwhile, involves your ability to handle stress-inducing situations. Factors which could influence your ability to deal with stress include emotional, physical, and mental health. A person who leads a healthy-balanced lifestyle is less likely to get stressed out.

Everyone is equipped with a defense mechanism which helps in dealing with stress. However, such mechanisms can break down if a person is exposed to plenty of stressful situations. Excessive stress can affect a person to the point that emotional and behavioral symptoms show up. In some cases, physical symptoms are also experienced.

Physical symptoms of stress include difficulty in sleeping, muscle pain & tension, headache, fatigue, and gastrointestinal disturbances. Behavioral and emotional symptoms, meanwhile, include dietary changes (either overeating or loss of appetite), anxiety, and nervousness, loss of energy, mood swings, irritability, and sometimes, depression. A person who is stressed out is more likely to engage in unhealthy habits such as alcohol abuse, use of illegal drugs, and cigarette smoking. He/she is also prone to making unhealthy food choices. Such unhealthy habits can often aggravate the symptoms which are associated with stress, thus leading to a cycle of harmful actions and stress symptoms.

Stress, if left alone, can be very disabling. It can cause negative effects on your work and home environment. Once the harmful effects of stress set in, it is best to take immediate action. The sooner that stress is managed; the sooner you can get back to your normal state.

There are a number of ways to manage stress and the first step is to know what causes it. The moment the cause of stress is figured out, get away from the situation or address it. Sometimes, getting away from the stress-inducing situation is all that is needed to reduce the anxiety and nervousness.

If you think you can not address or get away from what stresses you, you might want to find another way to deal with the stress. One of the recommended ways to manage stress is to use vitamins for stress. Experts agree that getting plenty of minerals and vitamins for stress can help the body combat stress.

Vitamin E is one of the vitamins needed to fight stress. It is a powerful antioxidant and works in conjunction with selenium and vitamin C to boost the immune system. Since the immune system is most likely to be compromised when one is stressed out, you need to take in plenty of vitamin E-rich foods. The lack of vitamin E while you are stressed out can also result to cardiovascular, nervous, and muscular system damages.

Another of the important vitamins for stress is vitamin C. Free radicals are very active during stressful moments. This is because vitamin C stores are depleted when you are stressed; this leaves the free radicals free to destroy the components of a healthy cell including its membrane, DNA, and RNA. Because of this, you need to include vitamin C sources in your diet.

Vitamin A is also one of the vitamins for stress. Your adrenal gland functions are at their lowest when you are stressed. In order to get it back to its normal status, you need to take in plenty of vitamin A.

Vitamins from the B-complex are also needed when you are stressed out. These vitamins are essential in the proper functioning of your central nervous system. Since stress can cause “stress” to your CNS, you need to get enough of these vitamins.

Aside from the mentioned vitamins for stress, you also need to get minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, and zinc. Since these minerals are also depleted during bouts of stress, you need to replenish their stores in your body as well. In the right levels, these minerals also boost the body’s systems and help it fight the symptoms associated with stress.

Stress Management – Up Yours! Why Should I Read This?

“Stress is not what happens to us. It’s our response TO what happens. And RESPONSE is something we can choose.”
– Maureen Killoran

We live in a world of uncertainty and there’s no escaping this fact. Trying to balance the excess stress in our lives at times might seem like an impossible task, but it is achievable. We all suffer from excess stress at some stage in our lives. And I say suffer, because the symptoms of excess stress can provoke very unpleasant feelings and emotions.

Most of us have lain awake at night tossing and turning unable to sleep because of unresolved issues that torment our minds. We all do and say things in the heat of the moment that we later regret. We get caught up in situations sometimes that are beyond our control and leave us feeling vulnerable and angry. If we can learn how to handle the excess stress in our lives more effectively it will make us calmer, healthier and happier individuals.

One of the best ways to keep yourself healthy and happy is to manage stress effectively. Stress can have a hugely detrimental impact on a person’s health and happiness. So, you can either ignore it at your peril or learn to cope with it and put yourself in a happier and healthier place.


Stress can cause a variety of distressing symptoms, ranging from the physical to the emotional. Here are just a few of the symptoms caused by stress. If you are experiencing any or all of these symptoms, it is time to try a stress management program.

• Brain function: Difficulties with memory, concentration or judgment can be a sign that your stress levels are too high.

• Outlook: A stressed person can often be constantly pessimistic, anxious or worried.

• Emotional: The emotional symptoms of stress include: Moodiness or irritability, feeling overwhelmed, feeling lonely or isolated, and of course depression.

• Physical symptoms: There are a huge range of physical symptoms associated with stress, and they can differ for each person. Some of the more common are unexplained aches and pains, migraine, diarrhea or constipation, indigestion, palpitations, chest pain, frequent colds, and irregular periods.

• Sexual disorders: These can include reduced libido, impotence, infertility, failure to reach orgasm, and premature ejaculation.

• Behavioral symptoms: If there has been a sudden change to your eating or sleeping patterns, or you are procrastinating or engaging in a nervous habit like nail biting or teeth grinding, you may well be suffering with high levels of stress. Increased cigarette smoking, alcohol intake, and caffeine consumption are also indicators that should not be ignored.

These are just a few of the symptoms associated with stress. It is by no means an exhaustive list, but if you are suffering with one or more of these symptoms, it is probably time to start a stress management program. Getting an exact diagnosis for stress is difficult, as every person is different when it comes to handling stress.


If you are suffering from stress, there are a wide array of techniques you can try to reduce your stress levels. The first and most obvious is to stop worrying about things you cannot change. Many people suffer from anxiety about the world around them, natural disasters, economic woes and bad news reports, all of which can increase stress levels dramatically. However, you cannot control these things, so there is no point worrying about them. If the news is stressing you out, as it does for many people, then disengaging for a little while might allow you to relax.

Television, radio and even computers can and does cause stress in our lives. When you think about it for a moment, nearly everything we hear and see on the media is disturbing and stressful. Rarely do we hear good news. It’s usually about how other people are suffering in the world and this only makes us feel helpless. This in turn causes our stress levels to rise putting our own health at risk.

There are things we can do to make a difference in other people’s lives, but we can’t change the entire world when things such as natural disasters occur. We can only help in monetary terms and some people are gifted with a generosity of heart where they are willing to put their own lives on the line to help others in times of dire stress and need when a natural disaster occurs. We can only do what we are capable of doing.

There are a huge variety of stress management techniques you can try. Here are just a few of them.

• Exercise: Daily exercise is one of the best things you can do to reduce your stress levels and improve your general health, which in turn will lessen your stress levels even further. No matter what condition you are currently in at the moment; do 30 minutes of exercise every day in order to manage your stress. Even if it’s just a slow stroll around the block, getting out into the fresh air and working up a sweat will benefit you greatly.

• Autogenic Training: Training yourself to take 15 minutes three times a day and visualize or focus on something relaxing is also beneficial. This method has been around since the 1930s and is seen as a form of meditation. It allows your brain to switch off from your troubles three times a day. This system takes practice though, and Buddhist monks spend their entire lives trying to quiet the brain. It will probably not happen overnight, but with patience and persistence this is a great way to reduce your stress level.

• Get a hobby: Whether it is model train building or gardening, a hobby is a great way to take your mind off your troubles. Focus your energy entirely on what you are doing so the outside world just drifts away and your stress levels decrease immediately. If you can find a local club or society of people who also engage in that hobby, that’s all the better, as social interaction is another important part of tackling stress, depression and all types of psychological ailments.

• Breathing: I know you breathe all the time, but if you find your stress levels spiking, stop for a minute and breathe deeply, focusing on your diaphragm, abdomen or stomach as you breathe in and out. If you focus completely on your breathing, you will find your body calming as your oxygen levels increase. Your mind will calm down as you focus on the in-out of your breath.

• Time management: Ever felt like there are not enough hours in the day? Don’t worry, you are not alone. Effectively managing your time will allow you to feel less stressed. It will also help you to avoid procrastination, one of the main symptoms of stress. A well managed day is a stress free day, and the sense of accomplishment you get when you cross off a full day’s worth of chores will allow you a free and easy sleep that night. Give it a try and see what happens!

• Stress Balls: Okay, let’s keep it clean here people! A stress ball is a little rubber ball that you squeeze. Sounds simple right? Well, it is, but it also works for taking your stress out on that little rubber ball. It can be extremely satisfying. In many cases, it is a replacement for more damaging coping mechanisms like nail biting or teeth grinding, but it is a nice cheap way to get you through those stressful times during the day.

• Music: Listening to music is a time honored way of reducing stress. Be sure to experiment with a few different types, but note that classical music is often recommended, as stress management music without lyrics is usually best.

• Yoga: Yoga incorporates exercise, deep breathing and meditation, and is one of the most highly recommended ways to manage your stress. There are Yoga classes available all across the world, and there is bound to be one near you. There are numerous books and DVDs also widely available.

• Prayer: For the religious among us, nothing beats a good prayer. Having a chat with your God, no matter who he or she may be, allows you to pour out your problems and get things off your chest. Some scientific studies have evaluated the therapeutic effects of prayer. Whatever might work for a person, doesn’t give another the right to dispute it. If it works for you, go for it!

No matter what method you choose, remember that you are not alone. Everybody gets stressed at some time in their lives and learning how to manage that stress will allow you to live a healthier and happier life.