Stress is one of those diseases that I find amazing. Of the millions who will die every year from stress related illness, many are unaware they suffer from the disease, while many of those who know, actually brag about it as if it were an admirable achievement. It's kinda' like an alcoholic bragging about how much he can drink...in fact...it's exactly like that. In addition to being a life-threatening condition, stress produces addictive chemicals, like adrenalin, making stress a double threat. To combat this threat, let's take a look at the main causes, health effects and the stress management techniques that will help us relax and live longer. For more detail, see these top-selling books on stress management and and relief.
Stress is caused by both physical and psychological factors. The main physical causes of stress include poor diet, health problems, not enough exercise and being overweight. Psychological causes include addiction, overworking, relationships, grief, marriage, smoking, retirement, new baby, new job, debt, phobia, anxiety, mental illness, problems at work or home, etc. As you can see, almost anything can cause stress, which makes it essential to understand the potential harm and ways to manage this disease.
Let's start with negative impact of stress on your general health, wellness and quality of life. We don't have to go through life grinding with grinding teeth or white knuckles. In the area of mental health, I have a friend who, in a matter of months, went from normal, to suffering from anxiety, to months of medical leave, to depression...all due to the stress in his life. Stress contributes to eating disorders, like anorexia, bulimia and compulsive eating. When it comes to physical health, stress contributes to hypertension, stroke, ulcer, heart attack, asthma, baldness, allergy, colitis, impotence and constipation. Stress also weakens our immune system, lowering our resistance to cold, flu...even cancer. No you know why I said millions die every year from stress, and why it's so important to manage this disease.
Let's start with what are called "coping techniques." These are methods you can use to induce relaxation to let the stress flow out of your system. Physical manipulation (massage, acupuncture, sexual activity) can greatly relieve stress and help you relax. Psychological coping techniques are numerous. Meditation, the most popular, involves spending a few minutes to an hour each day, to imagine a peaceful, relaxing setting...pushing out stressful thoughts. Other psychological coping techniques include reading positive stories, listening to relaxing music, avoiding violent programs and movies, etc.
Other stress management techniques, we'll call "capacity techniques" because they increase our ability to handle the stress we can't avoid. The most successful of these are aerobic exercise and a low-fat, low-salt diet. Also, planning your events in a calendar increases your capacity for stressful activity by taking control of your time. Or try adding relaxation to your schedule...5 minutes every work hour, one hour every day, one day every week...to relax, will increase your capacity for productive work and stressful activities.
Once we've learned the causes and effects of stress, we begin to understand how important it is to make some lifestyle changes to reduce and manage stress. By using the relaxation and stress management techniques listed above, we're taking positive action that will help increase both the quality and quantity of our lives. As an added benefit, we'll be easier to live with, too.
If you're looking to improve your health and fitness, you probably want a healthy life...including mind, body and spirit. You can renew your mind and spirit with God's help. He can heal the stuff your diet doesn't control. If you want His help, go to Healing From God.
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