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According to the World Health Organization, "85% of all deaths in the United States can be attributed to unrelenting stress!" Chronic, unmanaged stress will eventually lead to high blood pressure; not just brief elevation of blood pressure, but chronic high blood pressure. Additional problems commonly associated with stress include digestive problems, ulcers, headaches, backaches, rheumatoid arthritis, insomnia, overeating and obesity, alcohol and drug abuse, accidental injuries, and certain skin diseases.

Hans Seyle, the famed scientist and "the Father of Stress Research," said, "Stress plays some part in the development of every disease." However, according to Dr. Seyle, "without stress, you would be dead!" Dr. Seyle put stress under a microscope and discovered that too much or too little stress is a liability and contends that our challenge in life is to balance stress. In fact, he demonstrated that managed stress can actually optimize health and performance and radically changed the world’s perception of stress, saying, "stress is the spice of life."

The question is, how can a stressful situation creates negative feelings one person and the same situation not trigger negative feelings in a different person? The answer is, each individual responds to stress in an entirely different way. An individual’s perception of a stressful event will determine their response to that event. For example, if a milk bottle falls out of the refrigerator, you can respond by saying, "oh shi......," or you could simply say, “oh well.” In both scenarios the end result will be the same, eventually you'll have to pick up the mop to sweep up the mess. However, the way you perceive the event will make a big difference in how you feel afterwards. The moral of the story is, don't cry over spilled milk. If you do you'll end up with two messes: one on the floor and one in your head.

Here are some tips to help manage the stress in your life.

1. Be Selective
When an unpleasant situation rears its ugly head, make the decision not to let it stress you out. But remember, Rome wasn't built in a day. If you have acquired a lifelong habit of responding to stressful events in a negative fashion, be realistic; it may take several weeks to break this life-destroying habit. Be sure to change the way you respond to even little stressors and remember, blowing out someone else's candle won't make yours shine any brighter. If you are upset by every little annoyance that occurs, by the end the day you will be exhausted. Save your energy for stressful events that are really important. When they do occur you will be much better prepared to resolve them in a constructive manner.

2. Get Up Earlier
            Wake up in the morning thirty minutes earlier than usual. Give yourself some extra time to get ready for the day ahead. Spend ten minutes just relaxing, reading uplifting material, praying or meditating, or just preparing a list of the things you want to accomplish during the day. After you take this quiet time for yourself, you will be better equipped to take on the responsibilities of the day in a peaceful manner. Use the rest of the time to eat a healthy breakfast, take a good multiple-vitamin supplement, or spend time with your loved ones.

3. Take a Dose of Exercise.
Exercise is the antidote to stress. Physical activity is a great way to relieve tension and can turn frowns upside down. Exercise improves blood circulation, resulting in increased uptake of oxygen and nutrients into the cells. It also improves lymphatic circulation to help remove toxins. Whether it’s walking, running, playing tennis, or working in your garden, find an activity that you personally enjoy and release the pressure of irritability, anger and frustration. Remember, the body and mind work together.

-- Dr. James D. Krystosik