by: Elmer Palomata, MD - AVP for Provider Relations and Claims Administration
Stress is a difficulty that you cannot do anything about, at least immediately. It may be due to major life changes including financial trouble or a relationship struggle or it may be as simple as misplacing a car key.
Stress is simply a fact of nature -- forces from the inside or outside world affecting the individual. The individual responds to stress in ways that affect the individual as well as their environment. It is not all that bad, too, because a job promotion and winning the lotto are also considered as stressors. It is called Eustress, or positive stress, if it motivates you to accomplish things (harmful stress is called Distress).
Our body reacts by producing hormones which give us the energy to fight the stress – or run away from it. The headache, faster heartbeat, acne, constipation/diarrhea, irritability, and eating or sleeping problems are among the expected bodily responses. The risk of developing (or worsening) Diabetes and Hypertension may be manifested during the exhaustion phase when there is already a lowered ability to fight or recover from illness.
Dealing with it through Stress Management is a wise recommendation. It is a set of techniques used to help an individual cope more effectively with difficult situations in order to feel better emotionally, improve behavioral skills, and enhance feelings of control.
The following are some Lifestyle Modification tips proven to relieve stress:
• Cut down on caffeine (coffee, tea, cola, chocolate). Don't smoke. Reduce alcohol intake. They all exacerbate stress.
• Regular Aerobic Exercise for 30 minutes at least three times a week, to drain off ongoing stress.
• Well-balanced diet. One that is salt-free and with plenty of fruits and vegetables. It also means eating the right amount of food depending on how active you are. Cut down on junk food.
• Adequate sleep. It makes you feel better and more resilient and adaptable in dealing with day-to-day events. The usual sleep requirement is seven to eight hours average.
• Work-Leisure balance / Relaxation. Leisure time and levels of distress are inversely proportional - the less leisure, the more stress.
• Realistic Expectations. People often become upset about something, not because it is innately stressful, but because it does not concur with what they expected.
• Ventilation / Support System. A problem shared is a problem halved.
• Time and Money Management. Focus on your priorities.
• Sense of humor! This will not resolve the problem, but it gives you a break and a chance for your stress levels to decrease.