Tips For Stress Free
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What exactly is stress? Stress is the
response an organism makes to events that disrupt equilibrium and tax its
ability to cope. To your body, anything, that causes a change in your daily
life, be it good or bad, is considered stress. Imagining changes that
have or have not occurred (worrying) is also taxing on our physiological
Stressors include: (1) emotional distress
(arguing, disagreements, conflicts); (2) illness (3) overdriving yourself
(working or playing too hard); (4) environmental factors (climate, high
altitudes, pollution); (5) hormonal factors (puberty, pregnancy, premenstrual
syndrome, menopause); (6) allergies; and (7) trying to take responsibility for
anothers actions when you do not have control. All of these stressful
situations tax our physiological system, and pose a challenge to our
We already know that stress contributes to
a lower immune system, which in turn makes us more susceptible to colds and
flus, some cancers, heart disease, eating disorders, depression and anxiety
disorders, other mental illness and cognitive deterioration just to name
In order to manage our stress, it is
important that we first learn to identify our stress factors. There are
basically two types of stressors: things that affect you from the external
environment (external stressors) and those behaviors that are created within
ourselves (internal stressors).
The daily external stressors are those that
we all face, such as traffic, a broken refrigerator, misplacing important
things, and so on. Other external stressors include dealing with your
bosss temper, your mates annoying habits, your best friends
attitude, and major life events, such as the death of a loved one, a marriage,
a new birth and so on.
The internal stressors are things that we
have more control over and can alter if we so desire. These include: negative
self-talk, living an unhealthy lifestyle, mental traps (cognitive distortions)
and personality makeup.
What one person finds stressful, another
person may find challenging and exciting. Before you can minimize the stress
levels on your body, you must know where the stress is coming from! Keeping a
stress journal (diary) is one of the best ways of pinpointing exactly what
causes you stress. So, this is a list that you prepare specifically for your
Pay attention to events as they occur. Each
hour, record the time, the amount of stress you feel, what happened, where it
occurred, and how you handled it. Review this journal after a couple of weeks
to find patterns of your behavior. What worked? What didnt work? How will
you handle the stressor next time around?
Stress can cause a variety of eating
challenges. As many folks turn to drugs, the food addict turns to food for
comfort. There are other activities you can learn to engage in to help prevent
- Make your life more
regular. Give yourself a regular time to go to sleep and wake up.
It will set a frame of reference for your body.
- Give yourself a break. Write a list
of things to accomplish each day, and take a break before you complete
everything. If you dont feel you have time to accomplish everything,
- Learn to say no to
others who expect you to do everything. Let others take responsibility to
prepare meals, clean and do errands.
- Do not make any unnecessary changes
in your living environment.
- Manage your time. One third of our
time should be spent on leisure and play.
- Exercise to rest your mind.
Exercise allows the nerve cells in the brain to relax, and in turn,
reduces our worrying. Any activity you can find to focus on, other
than lifes problems, will rest your mind so the nerve cells will be able
to function normally the next time they are needed.
- Keep your blood sugar steady. Refer
dietitians for additional information concerning how often you must eat.
- Using food or drugs will prolong
your problems and could lead to a potential cycle of addiction.
- Eliminate trigger foods that cause
bad reactions. Any food that you crave is a brain-active food, which means you
are craving it because it is directly affecting your brain. Use other
activities in place of bingeing.
No one is stress free. Change is one thing
that is held constant! However, we can all learn to manage our stress levels in
order to live a long and healthy life.
Dr. Susan Mendelsohn is a licensed
psychologist who works with a variety of addictions and specializes in managing
eating disorders. In addition to teaching and maintaining a private practice,
she counsels eDiets members online. Got a question for the doctor? Feel free to
email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.