Stop stressing and start living! NOW!

  

We certainly cannot avoid all of life’s little stressors, but we can definitely outsmart them!  Listed below are five tips to decode the body’s natural stress responses and get started on the path to contentment.

Many of the stressors we experience come from an accumulation of stressful events in a our lives.   Many people have been living under extreme stress for a long time, therefore they do not even realize they are experiencing stress.

We often talk about the cave man days when our primary goals are to find dinner or to avoid being dinner!  Our nervous system could handle this brief period of stress followed by a restful period of time which provided needed recovery.  Today, life is very different.  We have exposure to large amounts of stress daily with minimal to no down time, therefore not allowing the body to recovery.

Women are prone to superstress because women have a greater number of chemical stress receptors, which enable women to be hyperaware of the potential threats to their children.

A key factor to our stress response is the level of cortisol, a hormone excreted by the adrenal glands during events of high stress.  When a person is under stress every day cortisol levels continue to stay high.  When the body can no longer respond to the stressful events, eventually minimal amounts of cortisol is produced minimal to no cortisol.  When the body cannot provide proper cortisol amounts severe fatigue, weight gain and forgetfulness occurs.

Unfortunately, we cannot eliminate stress completely in our lives but we can control our response to stress levels.  Here are five suggestions for handling the biggest stressors.

  1. The warning bell rings!  This is a signal to stop doing what you are doing.  You need a change in lifestyle. This is usually triggered by an illness, anxiety, depression or a list of possible events.
  2. Find a solution to the problems.  It is easier to find a positive solution then focus on the negatives of the problem.  Realize that the solution to a problem does not have to be found immediately.  Many chronic life stressors can be put aside until you can find a positive way to deal with them.
  3. Know when to say “NO!” In today’s society, women especially, have a difficult time saying no.  We take on much more than we can actually accomplish causing more stress.  Our children do not need to be in every activity.  We do not need to be part of every committee.  Most of us are taking care of our parents too.  Our responsibilities for our families are first of course but we still go to work and take in even more projects there!  We need to look at what is important and learn to balance our time accordingly.
  4. Set up rituals that provide enjoyment.  Many of us no longer have fun! We have forgotten how.   It is important to find fun in your life, regardless of how minimal it may seem.  If you enjoy playing in the garden, or taking a causal Sunday afternoon walk.  These are things that should be done to provide you with relaxation thereby help to restore your body.

Keep friends and family close.  Those that do not add to your stress level!  Family and friends can be very helpful to your busy lifestyle.  Sharing chores with family and friends makes life easier and assists in reducing the stress.

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Dr. Muth interviewed for US News & World Report, "5 Ways to Mitigate the Financial Downside of a Disability" Click here to read the full interview. (PDF)
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