Natural Ways to Fight Stress: Do Not Sweat the Small Stuff
An Introduction to Stress
Stress can be classified according to the factors that cause it. There’s physical stress caused by movement, acceleration, vibration or any external action that causes a strong disruption to the body. The more significant classification of stress, on the other hand, is psychological or mental stress. Anything associated with the disruption of a person’s mental and psychological well-being are called stressors. It may come in the form of a rude co-worker, a bossy supervisor, piles of paper work to go through, financial problems, bad credit rating, etc. The list will just go on and on. But stress is not all that bad. A person’s performance is usually associated with stress. A person who is under a controllable stress point will tend to perform better compared to when he is slacking off or too panicky. Stress keeps a person alert and wary from danger. But excessive stress will not only be harmful to one’s mental well-being but it can also directly affect the person’s health.
Stress is the body’s natural mechanism when faced with circumstances that are in need of immediate response or adjustment. The experience of stress is followed by a stage of recuperation, where the body is relieved from the experience and goes back to a stage of homeostasis. But when stress becomes continuous and without relief, it can cause adverse effects to the body. People will tend to find means to combat stress by getting a time off from work. Stress becomes more harmful when the person uses drugs, tobacco, or alcohol to gain relief. Contrary to popular belief, these bad habits only sustain the stage of being stressed and cause more health problems.
According to several studies on stress, around 75 to 90 percent of visits to a doctor are stress-related complaints and ailments. Stress is linked to several health problems like high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, arthritis, asthma, skin conditions, diabetes, heart problems and headaches, and costs over $300 billion in a year in the United States alone. The different approach to relieving stress includes the intake of pharmaceutical drugs, therapy and the more effective and much recommended lifestyle intervention.
Stress management is relatively simple and it is the best natural way to fight stress and avoid its resulting health threats. The first step is to maintain a positive attitude. Though it’s hard to keep looking on the bright side when in stressful situations, it is best to always have your mind over the situation. Acceptance is the 5th stage of grief. But in managing stress, acceptance needs to come first. Accepting that not everything can all fall into place, and that there are events that you cannot control, will help you better anticipate and react to stressful events.
Learn the Art of Relaxation
Being assertive is highly preferable over being aggressive. You can assert you opinion and feelings but try not to get aggressive in the process. Equip yourself with a repertoire of relaxation methods. You can personalize and keep a playlist of songs that relaxes you in your mobile phone or music players for situations that call for it. Meditation helps, but know that this is not the only way to rid yourself of stressors. Whatever can pull you back to a relaxed stage will do.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep prepares you for the hard day’s work to come. So always keep it a point to get enough sleep every day. Lack of sleep has been linked to poor and inefficient physical and mental responses whether you are at work, in school or at home doing chores. Though drugs that relieves severe stress is available, try to find other means – especially natural ones. Drugs can promote dependency and constant use may make your body unable to response to stress effectively without the drug. There will always be something you can do with a friend. Don’t bottle it all in. Talk to someone, and seek for support.
Check your Lifestyle
A healthy diet and an active lifestyle have its perks in keeping you ready for any stressful moments. Studies have shown that people who eat well and exercise more frequently are less likely to get stressed out easily. There are several foods that have been found to help the body react to stress more effectively and also in repairing stress-related cellular damage. A study conducted by a group of researchers from the ETAP-Ethologie Appliquee, a private contractual research company, found a link between brain function and gut microflora.
Foods Against Stress
A study published in the Journal of Nutrition showed that the supplementation of two probiotic strains can result to psychological benefits in human and reduce anxiety. The head of the team of French researchers, Michael Missaouidi, said that the results of their study provided more evidence that the microflora environment on the gut has significant influence over stress, depression and anxiety. He referred to the phenomenon as the connection between the brain and the gut through the enteric and central nervous system. He added that after the establishment of further evidence, probiotics can be used as therapy for neuropathological and psychiatric disorders. The probiotic formulation used in the study was from the Institut Rosell-Lallemand, the same company that sponsored the study.
The researchers used animal study subjects to investigate the benefits of probiotics in fighting anxiety, stress and depression. They also used human subjects on the same test parameters. The rats were given daily supplementation of probiotics for a period of 12 weeks and were subjected to a defensive burying test wherein the rats were slightly electronically shocked. The results showed that the group that received probiotic supplementation had lower stress levels compared to the control group. However, the group that received stress drugs had the least stress levels.
The human study participants, on the other hand, were randomly picked to either receive a placebo pill or a probiotic supplementation for a period of 30 days. Their stress levels were tested through a series of anxiety and stress scales. The results showed that the group who received probiotic supplementation had lower levels of psychological distress in terms of problem solving, anxiety, anger-hostility and depression compared to the control group.
Essential nutrients known to help the body fight stress and repair the damage are vitamin B complex, zinc and antioxidants. Rich sources are almonds, sea foods like fish and lobster, milk and dairy products, blueberries, and broccoli.