Alleviating Stress

We all have stress, it’s simply a part of life in this day and age.  It’s how we handle it that has the greatest effect on our health and well-being.  Mishandled stress affects every part of your body on a cellular level.  By mishandling, I mean the negative and hurtful thoughts and actions that stressful situations lead to.  You may feel that everyone and everything is working against you and you just can’t win.  Well you’re not alone.  We all hit that low point that may feel like there is no return.  It’s how we look at the situation, think about the problem, and feel about the circumstances that affects our health.  Negative thoughts alone cause more health problems than exposure to environmental factors, like pollution and toxic waste.

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Negative thoughts are those comments that run through our heads that are derogatory, envious, or judgmental.  How can we feel strong and successful when we constantly tell ourselves that we are not? How can we feel beautiful and happy when we feel envious of someone else’s looks, prosperity, or luck?  How can we think clearly about certain situations when our thoughts are clouded by insecurity and fear?  These thoughts, if not controlled, interfere with normal bodily functions like the balance of hormonal secretions and immunity.  All chemical reactions within the body are controlled by specific centers within the brain.  When the brain’s function is depressed by negative thoughts its chemical processes become imbalanced.

Stressful situations lead to the fight or flight adrenaline reaction that makes your blood pressure increase along with your heart rate, leading to stress on the heart and blood vessels, especially when endured on a daily basis.  The excess of stress hormones leads to a dysfunction of regulatory hormone secretions, including those like insulin and cortisol.  An increase in cortisol leads to fat and water retention which increases your body mass, further stressing the vessels and heart.  Insulin dysfuction leads to variations in blood sugar levels and faulty metabolism regulation.  These two very important hormones and their control are greatly affected by stress.

So, how do you deal?

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First, you must make a conscious effort to alter those negative thoughts.  Stop thinking about what you don’t have or what someone else does have.  If you hear that thought in your head, stop it, and consider what you are grateful for.  There is always someone out there that has it worse than you. One way to assist yourself in this is to write a list of the things that you are grateful for, the things that make you happy.  Then next to it write a list of the things you want or you want to change.  You will see that those things that you think to be of an utmost importance can be changed and are not worth destroying your health over.  Next, make an effort to be happy.  Feel that you are lucky in what you do have and where your life has gone.  Know that you can change what you don’t like.  You are in control of your life, no one else is.

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If you feel you can’t take anymore or are not in control of a situation, stop, and think about a more productive way of dealing.  Stop and breathe.  Breathing in slowly and deeply through your nose and exhaling slowly out your mouth at least five times will help clear your mind and ease your stress.  Then look at the situation again, you will see that you can be in control and make a positive change.  Stress interferes with normal thought processes and when you are not in control you cannot think clearly or positively.  It is most important to gain control of yourself and your thoughts before you take action.  Mistakes are made when your brain is not functioning properly and you’re not thinking clearly, mistakes that you will regret.  So take the time to breathe and clear your mind before reacting to or acting on certain situations.

These simple practices can drastically alter your mental health, thus improving your overall physical health and well-being.

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