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Chicago Anti-Aging Stress Relief Tips

Chicago Anti-Aging Stress Relief Tips

Understanding Stress

What Is Stress?

Stress is the result of how you react to bad, unpleasant or even normal, everyday situations. It can upset you mentally and emotionally. Stress is a natural part of life, but it can affect your health by making your more irritable and depressed and increasing your heart rate, making your muscles tense and raising your blood pressure.

Can Stress Be Controlled?

Stress has two parts:

1. The event or situation that triggers stress, such as a demanding boss or a traffic jam.

2. Your response to the event or situation.

You can't always control the situation you're in, but you can control how you respond. For example, Chris and Eva work in the same office, with the same tight deadlines and with the same demanding boss. Chris responds to the stress by drinking more alcohol at night. Eva responds by exercising during work breaks.

What Are The Physical Symptoms Of Stress?

Abdominal cramps
Chest pain
Cold feet and hands
Difficulty sleeping
Flushing or sweating
Heart palpitations

What Are The Mental Symptoms Of Stress?

Mind racing or going blank
Poor concentration
Poor memory

What Are The Emotional Symptoms Of Stress?

Short temper

Isn't Some Stress Good for You?

Yes. Some stress can provide an incentive, motivating you to study hard before an exam or deliver a better presentation at work. In fact, stress can be the spice of life — think of a thrilling roller coaster ride. But while some stress can be helpful, too much can damage your physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Dangers Of Stress

How Does Stress Affect My Body?

Stress triggers an automatic response in your mind and body called the "fight-or-flight" reaction. This reaction shifts your body into high gear so it can protect you from the threat.

What Is The Fight-Or-Flight Reaction?

Imagine that you're walking along a quiet street when a mugger suddenly approaches and tells you to hand over your wallet. Immediately, adrenaline and other stress hormones flood your body, giving you the strength to either fight the threat or run from it. These stress hormones trigger various changes in your body:

1. Your heart beats faster, your blood pressure rises, your breathing quickens and your muscles tense. As a result, more blood flows to the organs that are critical in dealing with danger — the muscles, brain and heart. Less blood travels to lower-priority organs, such as the kidneys, liver, skin and digestive tract.
2. More sugar, fats and cholesterol enter your bloodstream to give you extra energy.
3. Blood-clotting elements increase to help prevent excessive bleeding in case you're injured.
4. You become more alert and your senses sharpen so you can assess the situation and act quickly.

Few of us confront life-threatening events on a regular basis, but all of us encounter less dramatic types of stress everyday — work deadlines, family conflicts and money hassles, to name a few. In response to these daily strains, your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing and metabolism increase. In other words, ordinary events can trigger the fight-or-flight response. If you don't make adjustments to counter the effects on your body, you'll soon feel "stressed out."

Is Stress More Dangerous For Heart Patients?

Yes. Stress makes your heart work harder, which can worsen your symptoms.

Can Stress Cause Medical Problems?

Possibly. Many researchers believe that intense anxiety can cause life-threatening changes to your heart rhythm (a condition called ventricular fibrillation) as well as a multitude of medical problems.

Some experts believe that over the long term, stress hormones in the body can speed the buildup of fatty deposits (called plaques) in the arteries leading to the heart and brain. Plaque can clog the arteries, causing diseased arteries and slowing blood flow to the heart and brain, and may eventually lead to heart attack and stroke.

Can Stress Cause Chest Pain?

Yes. Stress can keep your heart from getting all the blood and oxygen it needs. (In medical lingo, this is called ischemia.) When not enough blood gets to the heart, you feel chest pain (known as angina). Ischemia is more common in heart-attack patients who experience wide emotional swings over the course of an average day, compared with those who stay on a more even keel.

Managing Stress

Can Reducing Stress Improve My Cardiac Health?

Evidence suggests that the answer is yes. In one study, people with heart disease who went through a stress-reduction program significantly lowered their risk of further heart problems compared with those who did not participate. Participants in the stress-reduction program had lower stress levels and reported feeling less angry and better able to function. They even had fewer episodes of chest pain.

How Can I Control My Body's Reactions to Stress?

Practice getting in touch with your emotional and physical reactions. To start, become aware of how your body feels when you’re angry or stressed out. You'll notice that your heart beats faster and harder, your muscles tense up and your breathing quickens.

Consider joining a biofeedback program. Biofeedback teaches you to become aware of your heart rate, skin temperature, blood pressure and muscle tension. Then biofeedback training shows you how to control these functions. For instance, when your muscles tense up, the biofeedback device detects electrical signals, which then activate a flashing light. To relax your muscles, you must try to slow down the flashing light. With training, you can control your body's reaction to stress even when you're not hooked up to a biofeedback device.

What Are The Best Ways To Manage Stress?

For most people, exercise and relaxation work best. Exercise helps you become physically fit — and the fitter you are, the better you'll be able to handle stress. Once you have the OK from your doctor, try to exercise 15 to 30 minutes every day. Choose an activity you enjoy. Work with your doctor to find out which activities and exercise level are right for you.

Relaxation takes your mind off stress and eases your body's response to stress. Types of relaxation include meditation, deep breathing, muscle relaxation, listening to relaxing music and picturing pleasant scenes. For best results, use one of these activities for 15 to 20 minutes once or twice a day.

How Can I Better Deal With Anger?

Whenever you feel yourself becoming angry, take a few deep breaths and slowly tell yourself to stay calm. If someone says or does something that angers you, count to 10 before responding.

If you get angry often, try to find a release. Do something physical, but not strenuous, such as taking a relaxing walk. Whenever possible, avoid situations and people that anger you. If you hate rush-hour traffic, for instance, change your schedule or find a different route.

Expressing your emotions can help, too. If you keep things to yourself, you carry an unnecessary burden. Talk to your friends and family and ask for support. If you don't have an adequate support system, work to develop one so you'll have someone to talk to when you're upset.

Consider joining a support group. There are groups for heart patients, men, women, retired persons, single parents, and other many other types of people.

Also, consider keeping a journal to record your thoughts and feelings. If you have a lot of pent-up feelings, but have trouble expressing them, consider seeing a therapist.

I Never Seem To Have Enough Time. What Can I Do?

Establish realistic goals and priorities. Eliminate low-priority activities, especially if they cause stress. When you feel overwhelmed, focus on one task at a time and give yourself enough time to do each task.

Can Changing My Lifestyle Help Me Reduce Stress?

Yes. Diet, exercise, sleep and rest are great stress busters. Exercise helps you work off "stress energy." Try to exercise every day.
Eating a balanced diet gives you the physical stamina to handle stress better. Don't turn to drinking, smoking, drugs or overeating to cope with stress. These responses can mask your stress, making it worse.

Be sure to get adequate sleep and rest. When you're tired, you can't cope well with stress. Pace yourself during the day. Get away from the things that bother you by taking frequent breaks and engaging in fun activities. Although getting away won't fix the situation, it will decrease your stress level. When you return to deal with the situation, you'll feel rested and in a better frame of mind.

Can Changing My Thinking Help Me Reduce Stress?

Certain styles of thinking — perfectionism, all-or-nothing thinking and negative thinking — can lead to feeling stressed out. If you're a perfectionist, try to lower your expectations of yourself and others and learn to accept things you can't change.

If you see things in all-or-nothing terms, you may take things personally and react in an exaggerated way to normal, everyday events. For instance, if a colleague doesn't say hello when you pass by her at work, you may think she doesn't like you. You can challenge such thoughts by examining whether they are rational. Usually, you'll see that the other person's actions aren't about you at all; this colleague, for example, is probably wrapped up in her own concerns.

If you're a pessimist, try to focus on the good, not the bad, and try to look at problems as opportunities. Instead of saying to yourself, "Things are going badly," tell yourself, "I can cope with this situation." Above all, keep a sense of humor.

A technique called reframing can help many people. Reframing helps change the way you view things so you can feel better about them. It centers on the idea that the same situation can be seen in many different ways. (A glass half empty is also a glass half full.) Reframing won't change reality, but it helps you find less stressful ways of looking at a situation.

What Should I Do If I'm At The End of My Rope?

If you can't cope with stress on your own, get professional help. Ask your doctor, clergyperson, family or friends to recommend a therapist. In a crisis, call your doctor's office or a "Hotline" immediately.

Family Stress

Family Stress is something almost everyone has had to deal with or deals with on a daily basis. One of the problems with family stress is the fact that your this type of stress knows where you live. After all, it tends to show up exactly where you live: at home. This tends to be a bad thing, since working people generally try to come home in order to relieve their stress. Of course, it is even worse for those who are full-time homemakers, since the source of stress is there all the time. In fact, even going to a job every day seems like it would be a nice stress relief. Thus, when family stress starts rearing its ugly head, it is time to take stock of things and figure out a way of lessening it.

The first thing to do, when dealing with family stress, is to let go of the illusion that the home is somehow a place a rest and tranquility that is utterly free from any sort of stress. Let's face it, it's just not true! Though you love your family and enjoy spending time with them, home life can be very stressful. After all, you have many people there who have a lot of expectations of you and you cannot fulfill all of those expectation all of the time. So understand that stress can enter your home and you will be halfway there.

The next step in lessening family stress is to actually spend time with your family. One of the best ways to spend time with your family is at the dinner table. Just sitting down with your entire family and enjoying a meal is a way to connect with everyone. Do not eat dinner in front of the television but, rather, sit in the dining room or kitchen and just share a meal. At first, it may be quiet and there may not be much to talk about, but this will come in time. As it slowly sink into your family members' minds that there is nothing to do but talk to each other, conversation will start flowing.

The next step in alleviating family stress is to have fewer expectations of your family members. Yes, you expect your spouse to be absolutely devoted to everything you say and do, you expect your kids to be straight-A students and you expect your home to be immaculate all the time every day. Tip for you: Not going to happen. Homes are not perfect any more than people are perfect. As in, not at all. Imperfections are part of home life and you will need to learn how to deal with them. Accept the bad, enjoy the good, and let everyone be human. Then everyone will have much less stress and, as a result, everyone will be much happier.

Next, accept the fact that you are not a superhero. Despite the fact that you want to be able to work hard every day, spend plenty of time with your kids, drive them to every sports/music/dance practice and be there for every game/recital/performance, it is not going to happen. Yes, you can make every effort to be there all the time and it is very important that you try, you cannot be everyplace all at once. Learn to appreciate the fact that you are not going to be perfect. You may try and you may be largely successful, but you cannot be everything you wish you could be. So accept your own humanity and allow yourself to be human too.

Finally, when you want to relieve family stress, do not force it. Yes, you want everything to come easy and you want to be able to connect with your kids all the time, but that is not always possible. Children change, often in surprising ways, and you need to learn how to accept that. This is especially difficult with teenage children, since they tend to be moody, elusive, and sometimes even obnoxious. However, by accepting them for who they are and dealing with the fact that they are not ready to open up to you all at once, you will relieve a great deal of family stress. This is especially true if you have not been able to reach them for some time, since they tend to be closed off and reluctant to open up to their parents. So accept that it will take some time for you to make some connections and understand that things may not always be as easy as you hope. After all, if something was easy, it wouldn't be worth doing, would it?

Family stress is difficult to deal with, but it is not impossible. By accepting your own limitations, as well as those of your family, you can save yourself a lot of worry and concern by simply understanding that your family is composed of different people. Different people who have their own lives, their own concerns, and their own unique way of seeing things. By accepting that, you can understand their points of view and come to grips with the fact that family stress is usually just a fact of life.