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Eliminate Daily Stress for a Longer, Healthier Life
AUGUSTA, Ga. - March 4, 2008 - If a wild animal was chasing you, you'd be grateful your body has a natural response to stress that pushes you to your physical limits. But ongoing stress will wreak havoc on your body, according to University Hospital Nurse Practitioner Victoria Burt. Ms. Burt, an ongoing guest on the NBC Augusta Healthy U segment, recently addressed a viewer's question, "How can I de-stress my life?"
In moderation, stress is a natural, normal response of hormone and chemical secretions that increases your heart rate and blood pressure, but too much or constant stress isn't good for your physical or mental health," Ms. Burt said.
Some health problems from stress may include headaches/migraines, heart attacks, high blood pressure/strokes, ulcers, cancer and an increase in colds and infections because of a compromised immune system.
"Seventy five percent of all visits to the primary care physician are for stress-related complaints," Ms. Burt said.
People need to first understand that stress is both physical and mental, Ms. Burt said. To address stress physically, try the following:
- Slow deep breathing.
- Progressive muscle relaxation, starting at your scalp and working your way down the body to your toes.
- Going for a walk.
To reduce the mental aspects of stress, try the following:
- Visualization (close eyes and focus on something positive-organized daydreaming)
- Talk to someone supportive/encouraging such as a friend or spouse
- Listen to relaxing music
And most people need to examine their lives to discover the source of their stress, and then manage those major stress triggers. Here's how to start:
- List areas that need to be changed.
- Write a plan for improving your situation.
- Ask others for help.
- Get enough sleep.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol.
- Eat healthy snacks.
Avoid future stress by:
- Setting priorities.
- Managing your time.
- Not taking on too many tasks.
- Approaching things in a positive manner.
Finance is often a source of stress. If it is in your life, try this:
- Plan ahead.
- Know the cost for basic needs and take care of them before extra spending.
- Go easy on using credit cards.
- Seek consumer credit counseling services.
If your workplace is stressful, consider this:
- Maintain sense of humor.
- Get enough sleep.
- Take advantage of your breaks to rest and relax.
- Develop positive relationships with your co-workers.
- Seek assistance from a supervisor, friend, pastor or counselor.