Tag Archives: relieve stress

9 Intriguing Things to Know About Stress

Intriguing Things to Know About StressWe have written about holiday stress, summer stress, vacation stress and even tax time stress. There are foods that can help reduce stress as well as relaxation techniques.

We know that stress is bad for our health and can interfere with finding balance in our lives. At this point, you may feel like you know everything there is to know about stress.

Here are 9 interesting and intriguing things you may not – but should – know about stress:

Big or small – your body feels stress
Your body doesn’t know the difference between a big stress and a little stress. Whether you were just in a car accident or if you’re panicking over get a report finished on time, your body reacts in the same predictable ways. When you are stressed, your system is cascaded with 1,400 biochemical events in your body. Left unchecked, this stress reaction can cause damage over time.

Contributes to top-most causes of death
Chronic stress is interconnected with some of the major killers: accidents, cancer, heart disease, suicide, lung disorders and cirrhosis of the liver. Stress is often called the “silent killer” because we spend so much time in a state of stress that we may not even realize how seriously it affects us.

Stress can make you do stupid things
Researchers have found that stress causes something called “cortical inhibition.” This reaction helps explain why sometimes smart people do dumb things. When stress interferes with your brain, you aren’t able to function and think like normal.

Your pupils dilate when you’re stressed
When you’re in a stressful situation, your pupils will dilate. It’s your body’s way of trying to gather and process more information about what is happening.

Stress can make you lose your hair
While there’s no proof that stress can make your hair turn gray, it may contribute to hair loss. Studies have shown that you may experience hair loss as much as three months after a stressful event occurs.

Being stressed affects your blood
Stress can lead to physical problems like high blood pressure, irregular heart beat, chest pain and heart disease. Being stressed can also thicken your blood. Your body is naturally preparing for an injury and makes your blood more sticky. Your capillaries also constrict so that you won’t bleed as much if you have a wound.

Stress makes you prematurely age
How much stress you experience and how well you handle it can be a factor in the aging process. Stress speeds up the wear and tear on your body, making you look older and feel more run down than your actual age.

Simple things can help control stress
Little things like laughing, eating dark chocolate and listening to music can help you relieve stress. Chewing gum may ease stress as well. Of course, playing with a pet, hugging a child or spending time with friends and loved ones are also good stress relievers. Getting enough sleep can help you feel more rejuvenated and combat one of the side effects of stress – insomnia. Exercise is a natural way to alleviate stress, too.

Live in the moment
To a large extent, stress is all about mind over matter. A positive attitude goes a long way toward combating stress. Stress is often brought on by over thinking and worrying about things that are beyond your control. If you can spend more time living in the moment – rather than obsessing about the past or what might happen in the future – you can instantly create a more relaxing state of mind.

How do you cope with stress? What are your tips for avoiding it or changing your reaction to it?

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12 foods that reduce stress

Citrus fruits help alleviate stressWhen I feel stressed, I want to indulge in food choices that are bad for me. I start craving comfort foods like candy bars, potato chips, cookies or even iced coffee.

Those foods we like to grab when we’re having a rough day can actually increase our stress levels. You should avoid too much coffee and other caffeinated drinks. They can cause anxiety and make it harder to concentrate. Salty snacks and sweet treats can be full of simple carbohydrates that will spike your blood sugar, and then cause you to be tired and unmotivated when you come down from the sugar rush.

The good news is there are foods that can help you lower your stress levels. Here are 12 healthy foods that can alleviate tension and are good for you:

Turkey
Turkey contains tryptophan, which is a feel-good amino acid that triggers the production of serotonin and melatonin. These chemicals have a calming effect and can help you feel more relaxed.

Citrus fruit
Oranges, grapefruit and other citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C and can help boost your immune system. The vitamin C also brings down your blood pressure after a stressful situation, helping relieve anxiety.

Nuts and seeds
Nuts are packed with Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential fatty acids and can help reduce stress. Almonds have B and E vitamins, which are good for your immune system. Walnuts and pistachios help lower blood pressure. Sunflower seeds have that feel-good tryptophan.

Salmon
Salmon has Omega 3 essential fatty acids and helps boost your serotonin levels. Salmon and other fish also help keep the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, at a steady level.

Avocados
Avocados sometimes get a bad wrap because they are high in fat. But, it’s a good kind of fat. They also contain potassium, which helps decrease blood pressure and has a relaxing effect.

Spinach
Spinach gives you magnesium – a mineral that helps you feel more calm. Magnesium can also prevent headaches and a feeling of fatigue. Spinach is also a good source of fiber and can boost your energy levels.

Oatmeal
Oats have magnesium, which we know is calming, and potassium to help lower blood pressure. In addition, the complex carbohydrates in oatmeal can help you produce more serotonin.

Sweet potatoes and carrots
These orange, root vegetables can help you boost your serotonin levels with fiber and carbohydrates. They also have beta-carotene and other vitamins that are good for boosting immunity.

Green vegetables
Green veggies, such as broccoli and kale, are great sources of vitamins. These nutrients can help replenish your body in times of stress.

Bananas
Bananas are known for potassium which helps fight fatigue and are good for your blood sugar. Bananas are also a great source of carbs and can help produce serotonin. Choose a banana over other sugary or starchy options.

Whole grains
Brown rice and whole wheat choices are better for you than white rice or bread. Whole grains are full of B vitamins and serotonin, which help you relax without feeling fatigued.

Dark chocolate
If you’re hit with a chocolate craving, opt for a dark chocolate snack. Dark chocolate contains magnesium which helps alleviate tension. It also has theo bromine and can naturally elevate your mood. Just remember to indulge in moderation.

The next time you feel like hitting the vending machine or ordering french fries, consider one of the healthy options above. Not only can you help reduce your stress levels, you will also feel good about making a healthy food choice.

Myths and facts about stress

Myths and facts about stressI drive from one kid’s sporting event to the next, talking on the phone (using Bluetooth, of course), and thinking about a looming deadline for work. The dog is sick. My son’s ball pants need to be washed for the game tomorrow. We have no food in the house.

I can’t help but wonder if the rest of America is in a constant state of stress. Stress seems to be a part of our lives. As much as we all deal with it, we may not completely understand the impact it has on us.

Here are some myths and the facts about stress:

Myth: All stress is bad
Stress is not necessarily bad. It is just a condition of our lives and can be healthy in moderate amounts. However, if stress is making it hard for you to function, then it is not healthy for you. Managing stress is the key to leading a more balanced and productive life.

Myth: No symptoms means no real stress
You may have no noticeable systems that you are stressed. On the other hand, many of us experience stress in a physical way, such as tension headaches, insomnia, weight gain or stomach problems. You may medicate these health issues, but you are not treating the underlying cause. You can also feel overwhelmed, mentally sluggish and physically run down from stress. So, while you may not be noticing symptoms, stress is still working on you physically and mentally.

Myth: Stress makes you perform better
You may think that stress is what is motivating you to meet deadlines and perform your best at tasks. The truth is that stimulation and engagement is what motivates us, not stress. Stress is the negative emotion mixed in with a positive drive to succeed.

Myth: Too much work causes stress
Stress is not tied to the number of hours you work. Work stress is more likely to be related to how you feel while you are working. If you are overwhelmed and worried about getting everything done, you will feel more stressed. If you don’t really enjoy your work, feel unappreciated or have conflicts with coworkers, you are more likely to be stressed. Stress caused by work has more to do with how you feel about your job than how many hours you work.

Myth: You choose to be stressed
Stress is a product of how your mind deals with situations, how you were taught to deal with stress and even your personality. I am a worrier. I will always worry – even about things that are out of my control. While I do create some of my own stress, it’s not necessarily something I can control. I can work on changing my beliefs and perceptions so that I can better deal with stressful situations.

Myth: You can’t avoid stress
Feeling stressed is not inevitable. While stressful situations will happen, you do have the power to control how you react to them. As we mentioned above, you can change the way you handle stress so that it doesn’t have as much impact on you emotionally and physically.

Myth: Stress is the same for everyone
We are all unique individuals and so is our response to stress. We do not experience stress in the same way or even get stressed by the same things. For example, some people get stressed by family gatherings, paying the bills or speaking in public, while others do not.

Myth: Being stressed is a weakness
Your response to stress does not reflect your strength or weakness. You may also recognize that you are stressed and that it is affecting your health more readily than someone else. This does not make you weak or a whiner. It just means you may be more in tune with your body and more willing to recognize the effects of stress.

Myth: Stress gives you ulcers
The majority of ulcers are not caused by stress. Stomach ulcers are caused by a common stomach bacteria. However, stress can increase your levels of stomach acid, which can contribute to digestive issues.

Myth: Deep breathing alleviates stress
Stress is the result of how we view things in our lives and how we process stressful situations. Breathing and relaxing do not really get rid of stress. You need to reframe your thoughts and reactions to stress. Deep breathing techniques and relaxation can help you get in a better state of mind so you can be more prepared for stress, but they don’t really remove stress once you’re in the situation.

Myth: A few drinks reduce stress
After a stressful day, it may seem like a good idea to have a few mixed drinks or glasses of wine. Alcohol actually stimulates the release of the stress hormone cortisol. Alcohol and stress have also been found to create a vicious cycle. You drink to relieve stress and stress dampens the effects of alcohol, so you drink more.

Myth: Stress and anxiety are the same
An anxiety disorder is a diagnosable mental disorder. Anxiety is chronic and can get worse over time. Stress causes worry but you can learn to overcome it with time. Stress may lessen with time while an anxiety disorder won’t go away on its own.

Now you know the myths and facts about stress. It’s within your power to change your mindset and cope with stress more effectively!

Kissing: It’s good for your health!

couple kissingDo you remember your first kiss? I do, but I’m not one to kiss and tell. Whether you’re kissing your date goodnight after an evening out or giving your spouse a smooch before you head to work in the morning, kissing is good for your health.

Spend some time kissing this Valentine’s Day and reap the following health benefits:

Perk up your heart
Kissing makes the body produce adrenaline. Adrenaline causes the heart to pump harder and increases blood circulation. Frequent kissing can stabilize cardiovascular activity, lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol.

Burn calories
A simple kiss can burn six to twelve calories. A steamier kiss will burn even more calories. While it’s not quite as effective as going for a walk or running on the treadmill, it’s definitely a more fun way to burn calories!

Live longer
People who kiss more seem to live longer. Research shows that kissing your spouse or partner can add years to your life. A regular good morning kiss may add five years to your life.

Prevent illness
The increase in saliva while kissing produces natural antibodies. This extra saliva can help the immune system fight off disease and infection. Saliva can also produce a natural anesthetic that has more powerful pain relieving effects than pain killers like morphine.

Relieve stress
Kissing is a stress reliever. It can clear the mind, decrease anxiety and help you relax. Kissing increases oxytocin. Oxytocin is a calming hormone and promotes feelings of tranquility. When we feel loved, it gives us a sense of well-being and improved self-esteem. Kissing just makes us feel better!

Tone facial muscles
Kissing is a workout for your face. You use 30 different facial muscles while you’re kissing. Working these muscles can tighten up your cheeks. A kissing session can tone your face and keep the blood circulating. Good circulation in your face can help you stay young looking and reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles.

Fight tooth decay
Smooching with your honey may help fight tooth decay. That extra saliva we talked about can also help prevent and reduce plaque build-up. But, don’t forget to keep up with your brushing and flossing. For good dental health, brush, floss and kiss every day!

So, this Valentine’s Day grab that someone special, pucker up and smooch your way to improved health.

7 reasons we need friends

best friendsDo you remember your first friend? I do. Her name was Jennifer. We met on the school bus on the first day of kindergarten. We were among the first kids on the bus and usually the last ones off, so we formed a bond. We were friends all through school, but then lost touch after graduation. I haven’t seen her in over 20 years.

Friendships come and go. Sometimes they form out of convenience, like riding the bus together. You may also be friends with co-workers, but those friendships can fade when one of you moves on to a different job.

Then, you have the friendships that can last the better part of your lifetime. These are the friends who will be with you through a bad break-up, divorce, miscarriage, illness or death. They will also share your joys: a promotion, marriage or a new baby.

So, what are the benefits of having good friends?

Fight illness and depression
Friends are important to your overall health. Studies have shown that people with a good network of friends are better able to fight diseases, such as cancer. In fact, friends may have a bigger impact on your physical and emotional well-being than your family relationships. It’s also harder to become depressed when you have friends to listen to you and help you through the tough times.

Live longer
Research shows that older people who have a large circle of friends have a greater chance of living longer than those with fewer friends. Your friends will encourage you to get out and do things you might not do by yourself. They can provide emotional support, a mental challenge and keep you physically active.

Relieve stress
Have you ever called a friend when you’ve felt like you couldn’t deal with one more thing? Our friends have our backs. If you’re mad at someone, they will be mad with you. If you’ve had a bad day, they will lift your spirits. If you just need someone to listen to you unload, they will listen. One of the best stress relievers is to get what’s bothering you off your chest and have someone listen unconditionally.

Boost your confidence
When you need a boost, your friends will tell you that you look fantastic. They will tell you that you are right and your spouse or significant other is being a jerk. They will agree that you deserved that promotion. Knowing your friends are behind you can give you the confidence to face your challenges and make changes in your life.

Tell it like it is
On the other hand, your friends will let you know when you are out of line. They will call you on your bull. True friends will be honest when honesty is what you need. They may tell you that you are putting on weight. Then, they’ll give you some healthy recipes or offer to exercise with you.

Test your limits
Good friends will push you to test your limits and try new things. It may be something as simple as eating sushi or going to a Zumba class. They may talk you into skydiving or taking a road trip to Vegas. Your friends will push you out of your comfort zone and make you a more well-rounded person.

Feel loved
Our friends love us. And while you may not tell each other all the time, you know. Your friends will be there with you through the good times and the rough patches. That’s what makes them your friends.

I’m going to call my best friend now. Who will you call?