Stress related illnesses are, by far, the number one reason for visiting a doctor. Their advice to avoid stress seems laughable in today’s frantically paced existence, but with the correct diet, exercise and a few minor adjustments to our normal routine it is possible to greatly reduce or, possibly, eliminate a condition that is known to have severe repercussions for our physical and mental well-being. Below are some useful tips for achieving a healthier mind and body.
Communication ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’, is a good philosophy to live by. Talking to someone about the way we are feeling lightens the load. Left to its own, stressed, devices the mind imagines wholly unrealistic and extremely negative reactions occurring should we confide in others. The brain experiences these scenarios as reality and goes into immediate survival mode. Chemicals are released which are intended to ready us for battle. Blood pressure rises; the heart races and the palms sweat as the body prepares itself to see off a threat. It is meant as a temporary measure until the threat has been averted, but constant stress sees these chemicals being constantly released and this state of high alert being maintained. The reality is that we are far more likely to find sympathy and a huge load of empathy when we confide in others. Everyone has at some time or other experienced feelings of inadequacy and, after listening to another’s woes will probably have a few confessions of their own to make.
Attitude Mental attitude goes a long way in determining how we cope with difficulties; positive thinking is a practised attribute. A point should be made of associating with people who talk and think positively, as this has a habit of rubbing off.
Light Relief It should also be remembered that sensationalism is what fills the media’s coffers. If listening to the news has a depressing effect, then it should either be avoided, or balanced with something uplifting and humorous soon after. Laughter also causes chemical reactions in the brain and nervous system, which have a feel-good effect; the more you laugh the longer this feeling will be maintained.
Keeping a journal Stress does not promote clear thinking and a jumble of thoughts and emotions are like an untidy closet; nothing is easily found. Keeping a journal not only has a similar effect to confiding in a friend, the ability to read back what is written creates a sense similar to that of listening to a friend confide. Having expressed our fears and insecurities in writing it allows us to see them more clearly and to more easily provide a solution.
Healthy Living Diet, fresh air and exercise play a vital role in mental and physical health. A minimum of 30 mins of exercise a day will, again, have the brain reacting favourably and releasing those all-important, feel-good hormones. Comfort eating usually involves rewarding ourselves with what tastes good, but is known to be bad for health. Stress burns energy and high energy snacks and drinks can compensate. Alcohol prevents that deep sleep that is necessary for the body’s revival and should be avoided or limited to one drink before bed. The recommended 8 hours of sleep a night will be more easily accomplished if time is taken for a little self-indulgence before bed: Relaxing in a bubble bath while listening to soothing music works wonders and a few scented candles lend a luxurious and exotic air. Meditating on the finer things in life is always beneficial and learning to do this instead of focusing on things like heavy traffic, which you cannot change, will pay huge health dividends.