Ninety percent of us consider stress an inevitable part of our lives-but it doesn't have to be that way! We all know what it feels like to be under stress, yet most of us don't know why we experience this condition. Let's look at how stress works. Doctors call the body's reaction to stressful events general adaptation syndrome. During tense times, our bodies release adrenaline and corticosteroids. This reaction, the fight or flight response, was designed to help man defend himself. The fight or flight response is healthy-in small doses. Unfortunately, exposure to A. continuous stressors, like traffic jams or B. piles of work, causes many of us to remain in this heightened state for hours, or even days. The result of this constant tension includes both short-term effects, like tense muscles and rapid heart rate, and long-term ones, like high blood pressure, a weakened immune system and depression. The good news is, we've got ten tips that can help. Let's start with diet: Research has shown that B-complex and C Vitamins, and the minerals magnesium and zinc, can help to ease stress symptoms. Vitamin C and magnesium lower stress levels because they help the brain produce serotonin, a hormone that regulates mood. Zinc and Vitamin B-complex fight free radicals, a term that refers to toxins found in the air and to harmful byproducts of digestion. Fresh vegetables, fruits, almonds, fish and whole-grains contain these essential vitamins and minerals and are great stress-busting foods. You can also combat stress with a supplement. St. John's Wort, is an herb that inhibits stress hormones and increases serotonin levels in the brain. Your approach can help too! Remembering that tension is a natural part of life can help curb your response to it. Take a minute to remind yourself that, This, too, shall pass. Sometimes a gentle touch, or acupressure, can relieve stress. One point, Lu 1, is prized for easing emotional stress and tense breathing. Find Lu 1 by sitting in a comfortable chair with your back straight. Use your thumbs to press the outside of your upper chest, just below your first rib. Maintain pressure for one minute. Another effective way to end your stress response is with simple meditation. For the best results, set aside 10 to 20 minutes for calm reflection. If you prefer a more formal approach, try this yoga meditation technique. Sit quietly with eyes closed. Pick a short phrase or word that calms you, like Ohm or Peace. Repeat the word as you clear your mind and relax your muscles. When mediating, always remember to breathe! Deep, relaxing breaths in and out through the nose help relieve stress. Even without meditation, just five minutes of deep breathing can be quite beneficial. And finally, if you're feeling stressed, take a time-out to do something you enjoy. Your body and mind will thank you. Stress is no fun, but with a little know-how, you can control your response to it, ensuring a calmer, happier you!
Stressed? Meditation Changes Your Genes
Which Meditation Type is Right for You?
Can Mindfulness Help Loneliness?
Don't Forget to Take Your Vitamins & Minerals
Meditation: Strength Training for the Brain
On the Job Stress
Staying Positive with Fibromyalgia
Stressing Out Over IBS
Last Updated:December 20, 2012