How to Cope With Stress

Stress can be managed! There will always be stress in life, and really what we have to look at is our reaction to it rather than trying to make the stress go away. Leon Chaitow, noted health writer.

Take Care of Yourself

     Watch what you eat. A healthy diet includes proteins, fruits, vegetables, cereals and other grains, and dairy products. Be wary of refined white flour and saturated fats. Watch your intake of salt, refined sugar, alcohol, and caffeine. Improve your diet, and you may become less susceptible to stress.

Exercise. Moderate but consistent exercise some recommend three times a week strengthens the heart, improves circulation, lowers cholesterol, and reduces your chances of a heart attack. More than that, exercise promotes a sense of well-being, likely because of the endorphins that are released during strenuous activity.

Get sufficient sleep. Lack of sleep leads to exhaustion and decreases your ability to manage stress. If you have trouble sleeping, try keeping to regular times for going to bed and getting up. Some recommend that naps be limited to 30 minutes so that they do not interfere with a good nights sleep.

Get organized. People who manage their time are much better able to cope with stress. To get organized, first determine which responsibilities deserve priority. Next, make a schedule so that these will not be neglected.          

Maintain Healthy Relationships

     Get support. During stressful times those who have a social network gain at least a measure of protection against becoming overwhelmed. Finding just one trusted friend in whom to confide can make a difference.

     Resolve conflicts.  The wisdom of quickly settling differences rather than harboring anger is shown in a study of 929 heart-attack survivors. Those with high hostility rates were three times more likely to die of cardiac arrest within ten years of the first attack than their mild-tempered counterparts. The authors of the study point out that while anger seems to be the strongest factor, any intense negative emotion that sends strong surges of stress hormones through the body can have the same effect.

     Make time for family.  One study revealed that some working couples spend an average of just 3.5 minutes playing with their children each day. Yet, your family can be a tremendous resource when you face stress. Family gives you an unconditional charter membership in an emotional support group that really knows you for who you are and likes you anyway,  says one book on stress.  Family teamwork is one of the best means of reducing stress.

Create Balance in Your Life

     Be reasonable. A person who constantly pushes himself to the limit physically and emotionally is a prime candidate for burnout and possibly for depression. Balance is the key.  Learn to say no to demands that exceed what you can reasonably handle.

Make time for relaxation. Balanced pleasures can refresh the body and help to offset stress.

Adjust Your Viewpoint

     In your coping with stress, the most important thing is not where or how you live or work. Nor is it how much exercise or sleep you get. It is how you view life and its problems or stresses.

A three-year study of air-traffic controllers shows a very high incidence of hypertension. But not all suffered ill effects. Dr. Robert M. Rose found that what seemed to increase the incidence of illness was the attitude the men had toward their work. Similarly, after decades of research in stress, Dr. Hans Selye wrote:  Rather than relying on drugs or other techniques, I think theres another, a better way to handle stress, which involves taking a different attitude toward the various events in our lives.

You need to learn to evaluate your priorities in life. Perhaps you face a situation that will involve stress a new job, a social function, having another child, taking out a loan for a major purchase. Before deciding what to do or how to respond, ask,  Am I willing to accept the stress involved? Is it worth it? Just how important is this to my life?  Such sane evaluation will help you to realize your limitations and priorities, resulting in your being a happier person.