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4 Natural Ways To Manage Stress

Focusing on one task for a significant period of time can be challenging at the best of times, let alone if you’re stressed. Here are 4 natural ways to manage stress written by Erlanger Turner (PhD) for Psychology Today. In the Western World we’re living in a fast paced and competitive world, in an economic climate that can be regarded as unfavourable to say the least. It’s no wonder that cases of stress are on the rise. Stress is harmful to our mental health and our physical health as a whole. It leads to illness and disease as well as unhappiness, which is why it’s so important to learn how to manage it, before it manages you. These tips are great, and will take only a few minutes of your time to digest.

4 Natural Ways To Manage Stress

  1. Manage Stress Before It Manages YouUnderstand how you stress.  Stress is experienced and managed differently by each individual. Some things that may be stressful for some may serve as a trigger for others to become productive. It is important for you to know what types of situations make you feel different than you do most of the time. For example, stress may be related to your children, family, health, financial decisions, work, relationships or something else.
  2. Find healthy ways to manage stress. The ways in which you cope with stress are unique to your personality. Consider healthy, stress-reducing activities that work best for you such as exercising or talking things out with friends or family, listening to music, writing, or spending time with a friend or relative. Keep in mind that unhealthy behaviors develop over time and can be difficult to change. Don’t take on too much at once. Focus on changing only one behavior at a time

Click here to view the whole article on Psychology Today

Unsurprisingly, exercise was featured several times among these 4 natural ways to manage stress. Exercise is the number one activity for emotional renewal according to Tony Schwartz who wrote The Power Of Full Engagement. On a personal level, I cannot think of a better way to alleviate and manage stress. I didn’t start really properly exercising until I was doing my finals at uni in 2003. I’d occasionally play tennis or go for a cycle, but nothing too regular. I got incredibly stressed when revising for these exams and this is when I started running. It was like a miracle cure. I’d reach stalemate when sat at my desk, tear my hair out (those were the days), and after a run I’d feel remarkably refreshed. Exercise is the no. 1 stress reliever for me. It also induces creativity, problem solving, improves your intelligence, makes you happier, slows aging of the brain, slows aging of your organs, fends off disease – to name just a few of the plethora of benefits!

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How To Deal With Stress

We know that stress inhibits our ability to focus, but are you aware of how detrimental it is to your body and health as a whole? Stress is very harmful and leads to illness, disease and in extreme cases, death. This is why it’s so important to get a hold on it before it gets a hold on you. Here’s how to deal with stress written by Heidi Stevens for Chicago Tribune Health.

How To Deal With Stress

Before we look into how to beat stress, here’s what J. David Forbes, director of Nashville Integrated Medicine says about stress:

“Stress drives all kinds of biochemical changes in our bodies,” Forbes says. “It instantaneously increases our heart rate and blood pressure, makes our guts not function well and creates damage to our blood vessels and organs.”

This sounds scary doesn’t it? The good news is, that even in today’s fast paced world where we are surrounded by a myriad of stress-inducing situations, you can manage it. Here’s how to deal with stress, or at least one main method:

Break a sweat

Exercise, widely touted as a healthy outlet after stress hits, also protects the body from flying unnecessarily into crisis mode at the first sign of trouble.

“Exercise is a good stressor,” Singer says. “It gives your neurons a tiny little assault and they thicken in response, so they can better withstand a bigger assault.”

So hitting the treadmill will make life’s unexpected traffic jams less taxing on your brain and organs.

It also trains your brain to relax, says Seaward.

“When athletes engage in exercise they have a parasympathetic rebound,” he says. “When they stop, their bodies say, ‘It’s time for relaxation’ and they kick in a chemical called acetylcholine, also known as a relaxation hormone. If you look at our culture, we’re not exercising regularly. We’re training ourselves for stress, but we’re not training ourselves for relaxation.” Continue reading full article

Once again we see just how important exercise is in our lives. Not only is exercise the no.1 stress buster, but it’s fuel for our bodies, and is as important as food and water. It makes you feel amazing too!

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How Stress Affects Your Health

Stress would appear to be the subject matter of the week – apologies for another one on this topic but I feel it’s so important to emphasise how important it is to reduce or eradicate the bad type of stress from your life. Here, Dr Peter Lind explains how stress affects your health For The Washington Times Communities. He starts by explaining how small doses of stress can be good for us, and get us out of trouble. However, when it’s sustained for long periods of time, it becomes detrimental to our health.

How Stress Affects Your Health

Manage Stress Before It Manages YouStage I. Alarm Reaction. This is caused by stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system and the  adrenal gland. This first stage is immediate and short-lived. The adrenal gland releases hormones such as cortisol (hydrocortisone, the infamous “stress hormone”) and adrenaline that rush throughout the body. Tremendous amounts of glucose and oxygen are sent to the muscles and organs. You become immediately more alert, your heart pumps furiously, and fat and protein are released from your liver. Breathing rate increases, sweat increases, and digestion decreases. You are ready to flee or to fight!

These immediate effects of stress are normal, useful, and not harmful when when the stress is managed and short-lived. This is the challenge in life.

Your body’s responses in this alarm reaction are designed to increase circulation rapidly, make energy available to the brain and muscles, and decrease all nonessential activities so that you can concentrate on dealing with whatever caused the stress. But if the stress is too great and this reaction is too extreme or persists too long, it can cause catastrophic damage, severe illness, and death. We see this all the time and wonder what happened. “He was so healthy.” Apparently not.

Continue reading on Washington Times

Please share Dr Peter Lind’s article on how stress affects your health. It’s no wonder that people have strokes early or develop cancers / brain tumours and other illnesses. Many people endure very stressful jobs for their entire lives, and never address the fact that they’re stressed, as they become used to it. Manage it before it manages you! Simple tips like quitting your job (ok, not quite so easy), exercising, healthy eating, getting in touch with nature, listening to happy music, watching comedy, spending time with friends, more time with friends, and in happy environments are all very natural and effective ways to reduce stress. As you know, exercise is my favourite but this is daunting for some. Start off slow if you’re not used to it, then pick up the pace and get the blood flowing around your brain, release those endorphins into your brain and feel that happy high! You’ll never regret doing exercise. Ever.

 

 

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Stress Causes Your Brain To Shrink

If that’s not a catchy title then I don’t know what is. Since creating this site, I’ve read numerous articles and reports about how stress is detrimental to your health, and written many posts that link stress to poor brain performance. The idea that stress causes your brain to shrink, is quite a scary thought, given the ridiculously fast-paced and competitive world we live in today.  Researchers at Yale University wanted to test how stress can cause brain synapses in humans and their findings are described below.

Stress Causes Your Brain To Shrink

Beat Stress Before It Beats YouMajor depression or chronic stress can cause the loss of brain volume, a condition that contributes to both emotional and cognitive impairment. Now a team of researchers led by Yale scientists has discovered one reason why this occurs — a single genetic switch that triggers loss of brain connections in humans and depression in animal models.

The findings, reported in the Aug. 12 issue of the journal Nature Medicine, show that the genetic switch known as a transcription factor represses the expression of several genes that are necessary for the formation of synaptic connections between brain cells, which in turn could contribute to loss of brain mass in the prefrontal cortex.

Continue reading on EurekAlert.com

Now you know that stress causes your brain to shrink, what are you going to do to manage your stress levels? Stress is so incredibly dangerous to your health but the majority of people are not aware of this, or indeed how to deal with it if they do feel stressed. High levels of stress lead to illness, disease and brain disorders. It’s quite frankly, something that we need to do without. In small doses, it’s fine, and can be highly effective when we need to get something done.

One of the most effect ways to reduce stress is to exercise, get outdoors and in touch with nature and to eat healthily. When you exercise, endorphins are released into the brain which give you a natural high. Your worries disappear and you are able to think more clearly and creatively. Exercise is also proven to expand your hippocampus – the part of your brain responsible for memory and recall. If it’s your job that makes you stressed, then make changes! My longest employment was 16 months where I developed Insomnia – which is also detrimental to your health. Thankfully, I was made redundant and I’ve only been happier since. Get creative, take time off, exercise loads, meditate, do yoga and ideas will start to flow. Read self-help books, attend seminars, revisit your true, core strengths and work towards them. Think outside the box! Ignore society, stop watching the news and do what makes you happy. You only live once.

 

 

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Ways To Focus On Beating Stress

Stress has its evil ways of affecting how we think, focus and concentrate, let alone its detrimental effects it has on our bodies. Here are 8 ways to focus on beating stress written by Dawn Klingensmith for Omaha.com. You’ll have seen some of these before but there are definitely some original suggestions like loosing your loafers, hugging a loved one and chewing gum!

Nuts To Reduce StressLaugh

Watch talking-dog or dancing-baby videos on YouTube, or whatever strikes you as laugh-out-loud funny. Stress constricts the arteries by as much as 35 percent; laughter opens them again for increased blood flow, said Dr. Kathleen Hall, founder and CEO of the Stress Institute in Atlanta.

Lose your loafers

“Rubbing your bare feet on the floor stimulates over 200,000 nerve endings, one of the densest concentrations on the body,” Hall said. “Our nerve-dense soles are our tactile contact with the physical world, and without direct contact we lose equilibrium and become disoriented.”

Go nuts with your diet

Nuts, seeds, dairy products, legumes, soy products, tuna and turkey all contain tryptophan, an amino acid that helps the body produce the brain chemical serotonin, which plays an important role in healthy sleep and mood, said Dr. David Sack, president and CEO of Elements Behavioral Health in Long Beach, Calif.

Go outside

Several studies have indicated that “people who are in frequent contact with nature and the outdoors experience fewer stress-related symptoms than those who routinely stay inside,” said Brant Secunda, director of Dance of the Deer Foundation of Shamanistic Studies in Soquel, Calif.

“The fresh air, sunlight, scents, green views and having contact with the earth beneath your feet all have stress-reducing benefits,” he said.

Continue reading…

I was surprised not to see exercise emphasised in these ways to focus on beating stress. Exercise has got to be the best way to experience an endorphin release, not to mention the countless other benefits. Listening to music that you love is also an excellent way of beating stress – and it takes you to a happy place. What’s your favourite way of beating stress?

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Ways To Focus By Decluttering Your Life

How cluttered is your life? These ways to focus by decluttering your life from Psychology Today, are highly relevant in today’s ridiculously hectic world. We’re surrounded by distractions in every direction, with so many choices for everything we do, be it TV shows, films, video games, reality TV, shops, supermarkets, technology, gadgets, email, messages, internet, social media (how many platforms are there now?) No wonder so many people struggle to focus! Take time to read this whole article – it’s thought-provoking and so very true.

Look at your life:

  • Schedule: Too many activities and appointments ;
  • Garage/storage: Too many boxes filled with stuff that you will never use again;
  • Closets: Too many clothes, equipment, tchotchkes, and just plain junk that will never see the light of day;
  • Purse or wallet: Too many credit cards, membership cards, and receipts;
  • Toys: Too many for children and adults;
  • Refrigerator: Too much food.

Stuff, of the cultural, technological, spatial, temporal, psychological, and social varieties, do so much more harm than good in our lives. It makes us stressed, claustrophobic, overloaded, overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, and lonely.

So here’s what you can do to tackle this growing concern:

Ways To Focus By Decluttering Your LifeHere’s what you should do. De-clutter your life!:

  • Popular culture: Watch, play, and listen less, don’t buy stuff you don’t need, don’t believe anything it tells you, don’t care too much about it;
  • Technology: Opt out, delete, uninstall, don’t update, don’t click, don’t save, don’t friend, follow, or like, disconnect, unplug;
  • Your world: Throw out, empty, clear, sell, donate, give away, reuse, recycle, reduce;
  • Time: Un-schedule, don’t plan, don’t over-commit, say no, do nothing, slow down, take off your watch, be spontaneous;
  • Your social life: Be selective, choose quality over quantity, spend time alone.
  • Your mind: Clarify, prioritize, simplify, tune in, zone out, read,meditate;
  • Your body: Eat nutritiously and in small portions, exercise frequently, go outside, relax often, nap regularly, go to sleep early.

Ah, your life uncluttered. Enjoy! Read whole article here

I couldn’t agree more with these ways to focus by decluttering your life. If you’re close to someone who never throws things out, give them a gentle nudge. Clutter affects your subconscious mind too, sending mixed messages to it that there are things to do which aren’t complete, and this makes it more difficult to focus using your conscious mind, think clearly and make good decisions.

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5 Ways To Beat Stress At Work

Feeling stressed? Ever feel your near burnout? I’m sure most of us have been there and it’s a horrible feeling. Stress can seriously hinder your ability to focus. Here are 5 ways to beat  stress at work written for Forbes.com by Sara McCord of which I have excerpted the first (and my favourite) point. It’s so easy to sit at your desk for hours on end without realising where the time is going, and to get stressed that you’re not achieving much. Too much time in front of the computer is counter-productive as your brain actually needs a change of scene.

1. Take a Lunch Break (Or Better Yet, a Walk)

Ways To Beat Stress At Work When you’re exhausted, it can be tempting to just stay at your desk through lunch or spend that extra 10 minutes you have browsing Facebook. But save being glued to your computer screen for the times when it’s unavoidable—and make yourself get a change of scenery. I promise, it’ll be much more refreshing, and it will probably even make you more productive when you get back to your seat.

Better yet, if you have some degree of flexibility in your hours, take advantage of it. Can you work from home one day a week, or from a coffee shop? At my last job, I found a lunchtime yoga class and negotiated coming in a half hour earlier two days each week to attend it. It helped me get physically out of the office, not to mention stay sane—and my zen attitude totally benefited the office.

Continue reading whole post from Forbes.com

The reason this is my favourite of the 5 ways to beat stress at work is also down to people have ‘light bulb’ moments when they’re away from the task in hand. If you’re trying and trying and trying to focus on a task but struggling to find a solution, the best solution to that is to take a break. The answer often just springs to mind when you’re not putting all your energy into finding that answer. It’s the subconscious working in the background, as you may have understood from previous posts.

Leaving the office at lunch I think is so important as well. I’d often see people bring packed lunches and sit in the work canteens or even at their desks. How can your brain refresh in such an environment? Your brain needs oxygen just like the rest of your organs to going for a brisk stroll at lunch in the fresh air is an excellent way to recharge.

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3 Simple Ways To Beat Stress

If you’re struggling to focus, it may just be that you’re stressed. You may not realise you’re stressed though, until you have identified with a few telltale signs which are outlined in this article. This excerpt called 3 Simple Ways To Beat Stress is from Yahoo Lifestyle and is well worth a read. Some telltale signs examined are an inability to stop shopping, making snap decisions, a loss of interest in sex, eating lunch at 3pm and being exhausted but not being able to sleep.

Exercise To Help Relieve Insomnia 3 Simple Ways To Beat Stress

1. “Don’t avoid fat,” counsels nutrition therapist Sue Zbornik. “Just choose the right type.” Essential fatty acids are important for brain function, especially mood regulation, so incorporate good fats into most meals. “It’s as simple as adding an avocado to your sandwich and flaxseed oil to your salad dressing,” says Zbornik.

2. “If you know you’re about to enter into a stressful time, start taking vitamins B and C,” suggests performance coach Bev Carter. Vitamin B offers protection from adrenaline overload and keeps you brimming with positive energy more consistently throughout the day.

3. “If you’ve been frantic all day, you can’t expect the body just to shut down and go to sleep,” says psychologist Melissa Podmore. “You really need to start slowly moving into the restful state a couple of hours before bed.” So turn off the TV, switch off your mobile and run a bath – the change in body temperature will also help trigger your sleep hormones, helping you to get the best rest possible.

Read the full article here

I was quite surprised to see that exercise wasn’t incorporated in these 3 simple ways to beat stress. If you read the whole article you’ll have seen that the author does talk about exercise in the 5th “Red Flag” regarding stress leading to an inability to sleep. Exercise is highly recommended to incorporate into your daily routine in some form or other. The benefits are enormous as it helps to burn off that relentless energy that can keep you awake and it of course releases the happy hormone, endorphin (as well as a million and one other benefits). As a previous insomniac, I can wholly relate to the importance of exercise if you are unable to sleep. But don’t go  for hours in the evening as that will get the adrenaline going which is exactly what you don’t want!

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10 Natural Ways To Focus On Reducing Anxiety

I thought this was a fitting post continuing from the previous post about stress.  Here are 10 natural ways to focus on reducing anxiety written by adult psychiatrist, Sheenie Ambardar for the Huffington Post.  I’ve excerpted four of my favourite points although just about every one of them is brilliant.  Doctors are often a little too quick to prescribe medication, but like many conditions, there are natural ways to address the route cause rather than treat the symptoms.

10 Natural Ways To Focus On Reducing Anxiety

Set goals to focus1. Limit Your Time on Facebook
A recent cover article in The Atlantic magazine asked, “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” and confirms what I have been seeing in my own practice over the last several years. When Facebook is used as a casual tool to keep in touch with friends or stay in the social loop, it can be a useful distraction. However, when Facebook is used to keep constant tabs on others or to promote a certain self-image, it can lead to an unconscious need to compare ourselves to everyone in our social network. This frequently leads to jealousy, insecurity, misplaced feelings of superiority or alternatively, feelings of inadequacy. Limiting time on ubiquitous social media sites like Facebook may be hard at first, but it may be one of the best things you do for your mental health.

2. Stop Living Someone Else’s Life 
Often, depression occurs when we wake up one day and realize we aren’t living our own dreams but are instead trying to please our parents, our spouse, our children, or our friends. Your life is yours; you are the sole creator or destroyer, no one else. If you need to set boundaries or disengage with certain negative influences in your life, so be it. Developing the courage to follow our own personal lodestar has a way of lifting our spirits and reducing feelings of being trapped and “stuck,” two of the leading causes of depression and anxiety.

3. Write It Out 
Keeping a private diary or a written record of your thoughts can be one of the most effective ways of dealing with mood disorders. The mere act of writing down our thoughts and feelings can serve as a profound catharsis, and is especially helpful if we are uncomfortable expressing ourselves verbally. Often we simply feel better and less stressed after systematically sorting through our emotions on the written page. In fact, there is an entire field of psychotherapy called Journal Therapy, developed by Dr. Ira Progoff, which specializes in helping patients write their way to better mental health.

7. Pick a Goal, Any Goal
It doesn’t really matter if you have a small goal or a big goal or a medium-sized goal, but whatever it is, try to work towards it, day by day, little by little. A life spent wandering aimlessly and without purpose creates a sense of unease and frustration, contributing significantly to feelings of depression and anxiety. Even a goal as simple as “I want to lose four pounds in two months” is a great way to bust out of the blues. If you dedicate yourself to something that has personal significance to you, your life will have more direction and focus. Pick achievable goals that are easy to bite off and chew, and watch your mood lift over time.

Click here to view the original source of the article

Of these 10 natural ways to focus on reducing anxiety, the first point about Facebook was an interesting one. I’d never considered it like that, although sometimes when I see (what looks like) the majority of my friends pushing out babies, I say to myself, I need to hurry up. That’s a slight lie, I just tell everyone to stop having babies and get on with my work.  The last point about setting goals is a great one too.  Goal setting is a sub category on this site as one of the great ways to focus. Without goals in place, we’re coasting, directionless, and hoping for the best that something great will happen.  One important part she missed was regular exercise – which in accordance with numerous high quality articles from reputable sources on this site, is a key ingredient for your brain and other vital organs function properly.  To conclude, I just loved the point from no.2:

Your life is yours; you are the sole creator or destroyer, no one else.

 

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Manage Stress In Order To Focus

If you suffer from stress, it’s highly likely that it’s inhibiting your ability to focus and concentrate.  This is why it is necessary to manage stress in order to focus.  Stress is not only detrimental to your ability to focus, make decisions, concentrate etc, it’s actually dangerous for your health when sustained for lengthy periods of time.  Here, psychologist, author, and philosopher, Neel Burton, for Psychology Today, explains how to identify with stress and then how to manage it.

Manage StressEmotional symptoms: Anxiety, fear, irritability, anger, resentment, loss of confidence

Cognitive symptoms: Difficulty concentrating or making decisions, confusion, repetitive or circular thoughts

Physical symptoms: Dry mouth, tremor, sweatiness, pounding or racing heartbeat, chest tightness, difficulty breathing, muscle tension, headache, dizziness

Behavioural symptoms: Nervous habits such as nail biting or pacing, drinking more coffee or alcohol, eating too much or too little, sleepingpoorly, acting brashly or unreasonably, losing your temper, being inconsiderate to others, neglecting your responsibilities

It’s often not easy to identify with the fact that you may be stressed which is why these pointers are particularly handy.  Here are a few of Neel Burton’s tips on now to manage stress:

Other general strategies that you can use for reducing stress include listening to classical music (for example, Bach or Chopin), taking a hot bath, reading a book or surfing the internet, calling up or meeting a friend, practising yoga or meditation, and playing sports.

Lifestyle changes can help both to reduce stress and to increase your ability to cope with stress. Lifestyle changes to consider include:

—Simplifying your life, even if this means doing less or doing only one thing at a time.

—Having a schedule and keeping to it.

—Getting enough sleep.

—Exercising regularly (for example, walking, swimming, yoga).

—Eating a balanced diet.

—Restricting your intake of coffee or alcohol.

—Taking time out to do the things that you enjoy.

—Connecting with others and sharing your thoughts and feelings with them.

—Changing your thinking style: having realistic expectations, reframing problems, expressing your thoughts and feelings, maintain a sense of humour.

Read the full article here

If these tips on how to manage stress in order to focus were useful for you, please share with friends, family and colleagues.  Tackle stress before it tackles you.  If you want to read more about stress, there are a number of articles on this site under the category of Dealing With Stress, such as Stress Causes Your Brain To Shrink.

Neel Burton wrote The Art Of Failure: The Anti Self-Help Guide and Hide And Seek – The Psychology Of Self Deception.

 

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