Stress in the 21st Century

The Good, the Bad and the Importance of Taking Care of Yourself

Stress is the natural response of the body when a demand is made on it. Changes, whether good or bad, and our desire to attempt to control every aspect of our life can be stressful. Dealing with conflict, having to make choices, facing uncertainty at work, and money or relationship problems are all part of our daily lives that cause stress. Stress in itself is not bad and can actually help us be alert and perform with more energy, but when it happens too often or lasts too long it takes a toll on our body, both physically and mentally. Stress can make us feel fatigued, moody, and impatient. Prolonged stress may cause serious health problems such as anxiety and depression, and if left untreated can result in high blood pressure, heart problems, and ulcers.

“Having facilitated trainings over the past 25 years in both the military and civilian communities, I have gained a perspective that not all stress is bad for you. Changes in our lives can be positive or negative and it’s how we deal with those changes that determine to a great extent our quality of life.” – Sergio Rosas, Director of Programs at Mental Health America of San Diego County

Tips for reducing stress that take less than five minutes:

  • Laugh out loud. Every time you laugh, increased oxygen flows to your organs, blood flow increases, and stress evaporates. In fact, just thinking about having a good laugh is enough to lower your stress hormone levels. Another way to increase oxygen flow is to breathe deeply, exercise, or to take a short walk.
  • When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Or just smell a lemon. The act of deep breathing sends oxygen surging through your blood, helping calm your body. Breathing is even more healing when combined with calming scents. Researchers found that linalool, a substance found in lemons, may reduce stress. You can also try basil, juniper, and lavender scents for relief.
  • Sing a song and listen to music. Music has been used for hundreds of years to treat illnesses and restore harmony between mind and body. Calming music can help slow the pulse and heart rate and help with relaxation. On the other hand, singing (or shouting) along can also be a great release of tension. To incorporate music into your life, sing in the shower, listen to music during moments that are particularly stressful, or put the stereo on instead of the TV.

For more information about stress and tips visit: www.MentalHealthAmerica.net/Live-Your-Life-Well.