Got Stress? Take a Lap

Stress… Everybody knows it and has experienced it, but how do you deal with it? I believe the best way to deal with stress is to run it off. Yes, I said run! Running happens to be one of my favorite activities. It is a great workout for both mind and body. Running teaches you to work past your physical and mental capabilities making you a stronger person in all aspects of life. For me, running does two things to help deal with stress. One, it builds up my tolerance for stressful situations so I no longer have a low breaking point. Two, it acts as a stress reliever.

If you want to increase your tolerance for stress, I’d recommend you pick running up as your new hobby. The longer the run, the tougher you’ll be mentally. I have had to push myself through some intense runs, one actually resulting in an injury. However, it has helped prepare me for those demanding life challenges that can occur at home, school or in the office. I’m sure it can help you too. (“Journal of ST“)

So maybe you’re not interested in increasing your tolerance, and would rather have an outlet to help deal with your stress immediately. I would then recommend going out for a short run, plain and simple. If you’re new to running, try beginning with a mile a day. If that was easy, bump it up to two or three. Eventually you will find your sweet spot, or the amount of running that makes you feel your best. Three miles is my sweet spot. It is easy enough to do daily and a long enough distance to feel proud about. I always feel happy and stress free after one of my normal three mile base runs.

Before going out for a run, it is VERY important you have the right gear. And when I say gear, I mainly mean running shoes. You can’t simply walk into any store and buy a cool looking pair of shoes. Choosing the wrong pair can have many negative effects on your body and can lead to problems with your feet, knees and back. Thankfully, there are many stores that employ knowledgeable staff who can tell you if you are prone to certain running problems and offer special shoes to remedy it.

Besides being an awesome stress reliever, running is a great way to form a bond with fellow coworkers. I was recently invited to a race (the 29th annual St. Patrick’s parade Corktown race in Detroit) with two other team members here at Biznet, Trevor Fitzgerald and Jim Montgomery. It was a great experience that led to many laughter-filled conversations.

Clear Thinking About Stress

Introduction

There seems to be a lot of confusion and loose thinking about stress in popular journals and books. How else can you explain terms like “good stress” and concepts like “A certain amount of stress is good for you,” or advice like “Stress is unavoidable.” Once you understand the meaning of stress you’ll realize that stress is always harmful, that there is no “safe” level of stress, and that you can deflect stress if you know how. Let’s start by straightening out the definition of stress: stress is not a mental or emotional state, and it’s certainly not a moral or metaphysical issue. Stress is a physiological and medical condition, produced by prolonged feelings of insecurity and anxiety.

Physical and Mental Symptoms

The Japanese word, “karoshi” means, approximately, “death by stress,” and it’s a significant source of mortality among Japanese workers, especially middle-aged white collar men. Stress kills them either directly, by causing their bodies to break down, or indirectly, through depression and suicide. In either case, stress is bad news and it’s no exaggeration to say that your life is at stake in a stressful situation. Chronic stress affects your heart and arteries, your digestive system, your skin and hair, your immune system, and your brain and nervous system, and virtually every other organ in your body.

Stress is also implicated in a variety of mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, burnout, substance abuse, workplace and domestic violence, and suicide. And although stress hasn’t been shown to cause personality disorders like schizophrenia, it does complicate them and make them more difficult to treat.

Clearly, chronic stress is a major health problem, and is nothing to take lightly. To put it bluntly, stress can kill you as surely as cancer.

Our Biological Inheritance

If stress is so harmful, why in the world are we so susceptible to it? Wouldn’t you think that evolution would have eliminated it? In a sense, stress was invented millions of years ago, long before we became human, as an adaptation to living in a dangerous world. To explain this paradox, let’s imagine one of our long-ago ancestors on the plains of Africa who suddenly looks up and sees a leopard on the branch over his head. In much less than half a second, without any conscious thought, his brain registers the picture of the leopard and classifies it as a life-threatening danger. Then the brain starts to mobilize the body either to run away or for defense.

Fight or Flight?

When the brain perceives the leopard in the tree and decides that it is dangerous, it sends a signal to the adrenal glands, which sit on top of your kidneys. In response, the adrenal glands produce two hormones: first adrenaline and later cortisol. Adrenaline acts very quickly on almost every part of your body. Your heart begins to beat more quickly and strongly, the small blood vessels in your skin contract (that’s why you look “white as a sheet” after you’re scared), your stomach stops digesting food, and your vision narrows to a “tunnel”. All of these changes make you, for a little while, stronger and quicker than you normally are – ready to run away from the leopard.

As you’re running away from the leopard, the adrenal glands start to produce a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol acts to increase the amount of sugar in your blood for quick energy, and if you have to flee for days and days without food, cortisol helps your body convert muscle and bone into energy. The combined effect of adrenaline and cortisol is to give us the energy we need to deal with dangerous situations – and that’s why we evolved the fight/flight response in the first place.

Where Does the Stress Come In?

As long as your body is reacting to a leopard in a tree, everything is fine: you run away and the stress hormones start to disappear after an hour or so. But if you can neither run away from the danger nor fight it, then the levels of stress hormones never go down. The adrenaline keeps on making your heart beat hard, and the cortisol keeps breaking down muscle and bone to keep your blood sugar high. If this goes on for days at a time, you will start to feel the effects: changes in your sleep and eating patterns, tunnel vision, abnormal tiredness, and a general anxiety and uneasiness. What we commonly call stress is your perception of your body’s physical reactions to elevated hormones.

Why Does Work Cause Stress?

“Well,” you might ask, “That’s all very nice about reacting to the leopard in the tree, but why does my work trigger a stress reaction – I haven’t noticed any leopards about.” It seems that the brain is not very sophisticated about recognizing danger: it reacts to an angry boss, or an upcoming deadline, or an office bully in just the way it would react to the leopard: it starts to mobilize the stress hormones to either fight or run away. But in the office you can’t do either one – you can’t punch people in the nose and you have to come back tomorrow, even if you don’t want to. This combination of perceiving danger and not being able to do anything about it triggers job stress, and it won’t stop until you can either fight or flee.

More Control Means Less Stress

If lack of control makes stress worse, then it follows that being in control counters stress. “Being in control” means different things to different people. For some workers, it just means getting to decide when they take their breaks, and to have some flexibility in scheduling. For others, it means getting to decide how to get the job done: what order to machine the parts or how to process the forms most efficiently. But for all workers, getting to make decisions about how and when to do their job reduces the feeling of danger, lowers stress and improves health.

Learning Conquers Stress

Many, many studies show that one of the best things you can do to reduce your stress level is to start learning something new. Ideally, it should be something new at work, but that’s not necessary. If you’re feeling stress at work, taking an evening course, or even listening to books on tape helps put you back in control of your life and, as we’ve seen, more control produces less stress.

Social Support Helps Fight Stress

The last big thing that you can do to reduce your stress level is to build up a set of friends to support you. Studies show that, when assembly line workers are allowed to talk and socialize at their work stations, their level of stress goes down and the quality and speed of their work goes up. Similarly, if you can walk down the hall and drop in on a friend for a five-minute conversation, the social contact will start to reduce your anxiety and the stress associated with it.

What Does This All Mean For You?

We started out with the fuzzy thinking that produces notions like “good stress,” and we learned that stress is inherently bad for you – very bad. We discovered that stress is not just in your head – it’s making changes in your entire body. And we learned why we have stress in the first place – it’s a leftover reaction to perceived danger, that gets triggered by modern-day situations like toxic work environments. And we learned at least three ways to reduce your stress level – take more control, start learning new skills, and develop a social support network. The bottom line is this: you need to take job stress seriously, because it can kill you; and there are actions you can take right now, on your own, to start lowering your stress.

Sources used: 

Feeling Stressed And Run Down? What Can I Do?

Whether you are in a high powered job, moving house, trying to get out of debt, managing to look after the kids whilst staying sane and having a life, day to day living can at times get very stressful. what then tends to happen is we start to feel run down and to top it all off we are then more prone to a virus or cold. Also our skin starts to tell everyone how we are feeling whether it is those tell tale spots or even worse eczema that we thought was long gone flares up once again. When we are feeling and looking this stressed and run down it makes it all the harder to perk ourselves up and get on with things. Instead we stay down and a situation that wasn’t that bad starts to get worse and our confidence start to go down.

Stress can quite simply be summed up as the pressure of having too much to handle. Stress can come from any situation or thought and what is stressful for one person may not be for another. There are many symptoms of stress including: Clammy hands, skin rash, sleep problems, alcohol abuse and depression to name just a few.

There are different types of stress. One is acute stress also named short-term stress. Acute stress can be caused by anything that for a short instance throws you off balance. This could be an instance of bad driving by another person or not being able to find your keys. These feelings of stress may be intense but will go away after a short while. Another type of stress is chronic stress also named long-term stress. This type of stress builds up over a period of time and does not go away. Chronic stress can often leave you feeling mentally and physically drained and run down. This type of stress can be caused by caring for an elderly relative or pressures of work.

You may be surprised to hear that not all stress is bad. Yes constant stress in your life can harm your health and relationships. Some stress can help you deal with change or even get through a challenging situation. Avoiding the negative effects of stress can be avoided by learning how to deal with stress better.

Once you have recognized stress what can you do? Firstly accepting that there will be times when you are going to be stressed will get you through those times a lot easier. To help you deal with the more severe stress then taking these few simple steps will help. Eating a well balanced healthy diet, exercising regularly, using relaxation techniques, spend time with people close to you and getting enough sleep.

Finally, learn how to step back and take a few deep breaths. Just by taking on board a healthier lifestyle and relaxing your body and mind can help you bounce back from stress just that bit easier. If you are suffering from virus or colds because your body is run down, because of stress or even the daily challenges of life then there are oral supplements such as aloeride available to buy that you can take.

  1. Top sources of stress / stresstips.com
  2. Ways to reduce stress / stresstips.com
  3. Reduce stress immediately / stresstips.com
  4. Secrets To Treating Stress Fracture Of The Ankle / podiatrytoday.com

 

Stress and Its Symptoms and Its Treatment

We all have experienced some form and level of stress. But what are the symptoms? Well first of all those experiencing very high levels of stress will certainly feel the adverse affect it has on their body and subsequently on their behaviour. Their mind will almost certainly be in overdrive and their sense of well being will be low. They may well have been suffering from stress for a considerable period of time before these symptoms became noticeable.

Those suffering badly tend to feel ‘less important’ than they used to feel, as their self esteem takes a sharp spiral in a downward direction. They become more and more anxious, and their mood becomes changeable and erratic. They often fear the worst as their troubled mind races away with them. They worry continuously, usually unnecessarily. They analyse over and over again all the possible scenarios that may or may not result of any given situation or situations. Their mind is in turmoil. Often their moods are very bad indeed, which leads to verbal outbursts of seemingly irrational abuse, even to those who they love the most. They seldom sit down for any reasonable period to eat and therefore their eating habits become irregular.

Their whole body becomes tense and starts to suffer as a consequence. Their muscles tense up giving pain to various parts of their anatomy. Their neck can be particularly affected, becoming very painful indeed with restricted movement. This tension causes headaches and as a result lots of pain killers are needed and therefore taken for temporary relief. However, as their body becomes accustomed to the taking of these pills etc. more and more pain killers are needed to give the same level of pain relief. Inevitably they are then on a path of either continuously increased dosage or devouring even more powerful drugs in order for them to function. If they are smokers, they smoke more and many resort to drinking excessive quantities of alcohol, often during the day in order to get some relief. This alcohol intake does help some to achieve a feeling of well being. However it is short lived as when they awake their anxiety increases dramatically as they probably suffer from dehydration. This only makes the situation far worse.

Symptoms are always noticed by others, especially those who know the sufferer well. They see them ‘never sitting still’ always ‘on the go’ and their energy levels continuously high. It is also possible, that the sufferer perspires as a result of talking rapidly and without any apparent direction. In their exited state they can become breathless as they do not take in enough Oxygen whilst speaking. Simply telling them to ‘get a grip’ or ‘pull themselves together’ can often exacerbate the situation, thus making the sufferer worse, especially with increased verbal abuse…

Their mouth becomes dry and therefore their liquid intake increases significantly as a result. It results in more visits to the toilet and they may well have bladder and/or stomach problems. This can lead to various diseases including cancers, strokes etc. if allowed to continue for a long period of time untreated. Their sex life is often adversely affected as it can lead to sexual dysfunction and that presents its own set of problems putting an extra negative effect on their marriage.

Their work ethic deteriorates and they are on a very steep downward slope, and if not rectified can have a severe adverse affect on their financial situation and that, of course, will make the problem for them and their family much worse.

There are many techniques that can be employed to help reduce stress but it would help enormously if the sufferer is aware that they are suffering and accepts that they do need help and therefore are not paying ‘lip service’ just to satisfy a loved one.

I myself have suffered high levels of stress and know just how dreadful it is. It can become quite debilitating. It sometimes takes courage to admit that you are a sufferer. But by accepting that you need help you are on the first step to recovery.

For many people, simply ‘getting away from it all’ is very helpful. Being surrounded by beautiful countryside without the general day to day problems can have a positive effect. If you are suffering, or indeed have identified that a loved one is suffering, you may consider a holiday ‘away from the madding crowd’.

I run ‘stress relief courses’ from my tranquil away from it all Villa in the Portuguese Algarve.

I have helped hundreds of individuals, especially in industry, who are experiencing hypertension, usually caused by business related problems. Sometimes, simply having a break from the grueling day to day grind of everyday living helps. With others more is needed. Therefore my approach is to find the ‘root cause’ of stress and eradicate it and not simply treating the symptoms. I run mentoring workshops in my wonderful tranquil Villa in the Algarve, Portugal.

  1. Why going for a run reduces stress – theweek.com
  2. Stress relief activities, running – stresstips.com
  3. Physical effect of stress on the body – stresstips.com

Ten Great Ways to Bust Stress

Take a look around you. Pick up a newspaper, turn on the television, and listen to the radio. The world is in trouble. Stock markets are collapsing. Global currency markets are the most volatile they’ve been in years. Food prices are through the roof. Is it the end of the world as we know it? Well, despite what a few talking heads are telling us, perhaps not. Things are pretty bad, but maybe not quite as catastrophic as the media would like us to believe. The price of a barrel of crude oil is back well below $100 and is expected to fall further still. This means that at least driving to pick up your unbelievably-expensive groceries won’t set you back quite as much as it did this time last month. Still, whether we’re on our way into a recession or not, people are undoubtedly feeling the pinch. Times do appear to be hard. And when times turn hard, folk get stressed. While it’s certainly true that some sources of stress are too broad and deep-seated for quick fixes and require significantly deeper analyses and often counselling, everyday trials and tribulations can often be countered with quite simple but often productive steps. You just have to take action. More specifically, you just have to want to take action.

Here are ten tried and tested ways to help you turn that frown upside down:

Eat The Right Foods

Many foods have properties that can take the edge off of your stressful day. Add some of these to your diet, and reap the benefits:

Almonds – Almonds are packed with vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin E, magnesium and zinc, a combination that helps increase your production of serotonin, which improves your mood and relieves stress. A handful of almonds a day goes a long, long way.

Fish – Fish, particularly the oily kind (salmon, mackerel) are packed with all manner of vitamins and minerals, including those all-important B vitamins mentioned above. Try to eat three portions of oily fish per week.

Wholegrain Pasta – Wholegrain pasta is not only extremely tasty – I put it to you that you won’t notice the difference between 100 per cent wholegrain pasta and the stuff you eat now (which is likely 100 per cent durum wheat, which is not the same thing as wholegrain) – but nutritionally very sound. White foods like white bread, rice, potatoes and pasta – the so-called simple carbs – spike your insulin levels leaving you prone to ‘sugar crashes’ later in the day (as well as going a long way to helping you pile on the pounds).

Wholegrain foods, meantime – and this includes breads and rice, as well as pasta – have a ‘slow carb’ effect which means the body digests them more slowly, ensuring your energy levels do not spike and crash, keeping you happier for a longer period of time. Other mood-enhancing foods you might try include blueberries, broccoli and lean beef.

Run!

Here’s the deal – life feels better when you are running. Furthermore, life feels better after you have run, too. When you’re out there pounding the streets (trails, track or treadmill), step by step, one foot in front of the other, there’s a certain something you’re looking for. A moment. Some people call it ‘The Zone’. Others refer to it as running Zen. It’s hard to explain unless you’ve experienced it yourself. For me, I knew I was in this zone when my body felt like it was made up of two different parts. The best way to describe it is a feeling like my upper body was ‘me’, and it (and I) was sitting on my legs, which were independent and doing all of the running work. I – the top half – was just along for the ride on the working bottom half. It was a feeling somewhat akin to being in the passenger seat of a car. Running automatically alters your mood simply through the release of endorphins. These naturally-occurring hormones attach themselves to receptors on the brain and spinal cord to combat pain, which triggers an euphoric feeling – often called ‘runner’s high’ – that is a great stress-buster.

Additionally, after a run I always go through an extended period of feeling ‘well’ or content. This, again, is a somewhat Zen-like state of mind – a feeling of being centred. I find myself feeling significantly more calm and collected than I did before I ran. It can last anything from an hour to the rest of the day. Running has all manner of positive effects on the body.

· It burns a significant amount of energy. As such, it is one of the best ways to achieve your ideal body weight

· It raises your metabolism

· It is a great way to improve cardiovascular health

· It lowers blood pressure

· Because it strengthens bones, tendons and central nervous system, it can help slow down the aging process

Have More Sex – Especially In The Morning

While this isn’t a practical option for everybody, for those that can – do. Studies have shown that people are less stressed out before important events like public speaking, meetings or sport events (the boxing thing is a myth), than if they have had sex beforehand, as opposed to those times they abstained. After sex, people feel fulfilled and energized. It makes sense that this can only improve the rest of your day.

Learn To Power Nap

By mid-afternoon, most people, especially after a typically Western meal, are naturally sleepy. It’s no coincidence that it is at these times that you will typically feel most stressed (and most likely to vocalise that feeling). It’s a total cliché, but one of the most effective ways to deal with stress is, literally, to ‘sleep on it’. As one matures into an adult, society tends to look down on those who nap; indeed, a country like Spain, which functions around a culture where the siesta is not only the norm, but actively encouraged, are often considered lazy or old-fashioned by other, particularly Western nations. In South Asia, and notably Japan, post-lunch naps are common. Many Japanese offices feature special ‘napping rooms’ that allow workers to rest after meals or periods of overtime. And for good reason, too – the power nap is a very effective way to not only decrease stress, but to increase productivity. Durations of 20-30 minutes are recommended as this prevents the napper entering but failing to complete a full sleep cycle (which can be quite detrimental to mental health).

The actual length of time required will vary from person to person, but you should wake after your nap feeling refreshed and energetic, not lethargic or dazed. Some advocates recommend a moderate intake of caffeine immediately prior to napping. These caffeine naps are considered to be doubly-effective as caffeine typically takes about 20 minutes to take effect. Hence, the person wakes from the nap with extra energy.

Blog

Writing it all down is a great way to take the edge off of your life. Yes, it’s a cliché, but it’s one that really does work – putting pen to paper (or, in its more modern sense, pixels to screen) and getting everything you’re worried or obsessing about ‘out there’ can make you far more objective and pragmatic about the steps you then need to make to take care of it all. And if you don’t fancy starting a blog yourself, try reading somebody else’s. Believe me – anything and everything that has happened to you has (and is) happening to somebody else. Find comfort in your lack of solitude. There are people who have not only experienced what you’re going through, but have come out the other side, often with fantastic advice.

Go Lift Some Weights

It’s pretty ironic that the time when you are least likely to hit the gym – when you’ve had a bad day – is the time when you most need to go. Like running, lifting weights can reap enormous benefits for body and mind. Furthermore, regular trips to the gym will ensure that you’re more capable of handling stressful situations before they get on top of you.

Like running, lifting weights releases those lovely endorphins into the body

It raises your metabolism

It fills your body with energy

It can improve your posture

Improvements in body shape will boost your self-esteem

Stronger skeletal muscles can decrease skeletal pain (i.e., your back)

Therefore, not only can a session at the gym have an immediate improvement on your mood, but the effects of a regular program can really make a difference to your life.

SHOUT!

Primal therapy is a form of psychotherapy where the patient is encouraged to relive events, often by screaming or crying to achieve catharsis. As psychological defenses are broken down, the individual experiences a feeling of calm and well-being. During periods of high stress, it is very easy for a person to resort to raising their voice in an often vain attempt to make their point or position understood. In an argument the person who begins shouting first is often considered to be admitting defeat – that their hope is by raising their voice they can somehow overpower their opponent, even after the logic of their reasoning has failed. However, shouting or screaming, in and of itself, can be an excellent way to rid the body of stress. Here’s the best way to do it:

1. Get into your car.

2. Drive to somewhere as far away as possible. Make sure it’s a safe place, but it’s important to be as isolated as you can be. You needn’t even leave your car if that is an issue – just make sure you are out of earshot.

3. Scream. Vent. Shout. Rage. Yell. Cry.

4. Once it’s all out of your system, drive back.

Believe me – you will feel a lot better. And nobody else needs to know.

Play Golf

Wait a second. Hear me out on this one. I know lots of people think golf is boring. And I know lots of those same people have never played golf. That doesn’t matter. Very few things on this earth are as therapeutic and calming as going to a driving range and whacking away at hundreds of balls. It doesn’t matter if you have a scratch handicap or you’ve never picked up a pitching wedge in your entire life – hitting those little white balls feels great. Particularly on those rare moments when you connect perfectly with the sweet spot on the face of the club. Indeed, it’s those once- or twice-a-round occurrences – where you feel like a pro – that keep all club players coming back for more.

Laugh

This might include watching a movie or a sitcom, reading a book, playing with your kids or simply entering the word ‘jokes’ into Google and lapping it all up. Laughter really is the best medicine. It completely detoxes the feeling of stress. While the idea of popping one of your favourite comedies into the DVD player seems like the last thing you want to do during those moments when you’re feeling at your most stressed, it can reap almost instant benefits.

Smash, Like Hulk!

Smashing stuff is a really effective way to take care of your bad day. There’s something about destroying harmless inanimate objects that really hits the spot. The problem is, while storming into our own living rooms and destroying everything in our path might feel like a great idea for, oh, about two minutes, the after-effects of such a decision is inevitably going to make us feel a whole lot worse.

So, what can we break? Here are some ideas:

· Glass – The sound of glass smashing at a bottle bank is very satisfying.

· Wood – We all have an old chair we hate. Its time has come. The good thing about this option is you can even use power tools.

· Cardboard – Save up cardboard boxes for your angriest days. Take them out to the yard. Stamp on them.

· Clothes – Declutter your wardrobe and find all the old clothes you’ve kept that you know you’re never going to wear again. Filter out anything that even the charity shops won’t touch. Now tear it into strips, Hulk-style. Ripping up an old t-shirt feels great. Tip: It’s even better if you – or your partner – are actually wearing it at the time.

· Sand – Go to the beach and spend hours building a sandcastle that is both technically impressive and formidable in size. Stand back and admire your work. Now smash it to bits. Really get in there, like you’re a wild animal or something. (Important: smashing up somebody else’s sandcastle is bullying and does not have the consent of this blog. Look out for those skinny guys – they fight until they’re burger.)

So what are you waiting for? Pick one or two things from the list above and de-stress yourself. And if you’re really stressed – if you really think the global economy is going down the toilet – maybe you should try them all?

  1. The Benefits of Running – Reduce Stress, Feel Better - thinkentrepreneurship.com
  2. How to De-Stress – stresstips.com
  3. Best Stress Relief Techniques - stresstips.com
  4. Stress Buster - stresstips.com