by Michael Reynolds (1993)
Stress is usually unavoidable in the world around us. Sometimes, it can really get us down, but stress can be a positive thing. It can stimulate us and encourages us to evolve to meet our challenges. This article will discuss some of the causes of so-called “bad” stress, as well as offer a couple of “remedies” and even some tips on prevention.
We all feel stress occasionally due to situations not being as we desire. Our stress level can rise depending on how we react emotionally. For example, any anger we may feel about a situation can turn inward and result in feeling angry at ourselves for being in the situation. This can have long-term effects on us.
Stress causes muscles to tighten, resulting in neck or shoulder pain and headaches. Circulation of blood (and therefore oxygen) becomes limited throughout the body. Notice this lack of circulation when your hands and feet feel cold. Also, when we feel stress, our brain does not receive the oxygen it requires to function at peak efficiency; the result being decreased mental ability which can lead to further stress!
So what can be done to release the effects of the stress, or at least limit its effect on us? Try breathing. It is a fact that most people breathe very little in times of heavy stress. Imagine the effect on the entire body when we limit the circulation of blood, and further limit the amount of oxygen being inhaled. If you can take time out to take a few very deep breaths, it can help give you immediate relief.
Possibly another way to relieve some of the stress is to take a moment to determine how much control you have over the situation. If there is nothing you can do about it, try to accept the situation. However, if you CAN do something about it, try focusing your energy on that goal. Sometimes, it can be quite beneficial to remember the Serenity Prayer:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Now, what about preventing stress? Probably the best (and possibly even the hardest) is by maintaining a positive attitude. We may not be able to control the situations around us, but we have ultimate control over how we react to them!
When we feel stress, our body works harder to meet the demands we place upon it, which can result in nutrient depletion. Let’s consider improving our diet. Eating mostly whole foods, plenty of vegetables, and fruit will help satisfy our nutritional needs. (“Whole foods” are those which have not been refined, such as whole wheat flour or brown rice.) Due to an imbalanced diet, many people need to turn to stimulants to get them through the day; such as caffeine, nicotine, and sugar. These trick the body into believing it is getting what it needs, but actually, they drain the body of its reserves. Feed your body well so it can serve you well.
Herbs are a wonderful addition to the diet. They contain essential nutrients in a natural plant form which can make them easier to assimilate than vitamin pills (which are sometimes necessary). Herbs can enhance the rebuilding of healthy tissue as well as cleanse toxic materials from the body. In capsule form, it is very easy to include them in our daily routine.
Whatever method you choose to handle stress, it is vital that some program be adopted. It can be the difference between controlling stress, or having it control you. Make the choice today!