Stress is your body's natural chemical reaction "fight or flight" response to threats, challenges and physical dangers. We react to circumstances which frighten, excite, confuse, surprise, anger, or irritate us by feeling stressed. This is your body's normal response to things beyond your control. But not all stress is bad and just because you feel stress does not necessarily put your health in danger. Stress is a part of life and life can be stressful. The important thing is how well do you respond to stress? One key aspect of living a healthy life entails learning how to adapt to stress. There's always going to be stress in life. Get used to it! There's good stress called eustress that occurs when you get a job promotion or get married. There's also bad stress called distress that occurs when you must deal with an impending deadline or have to withstand traffic from hell. Ideally, living a life of moderate stress can be healthy for your body. Whereas too much or too little stress can be harmful to your health.
Here are five stages of stress:
Here are four breathing exercises you can do right now to relearn how to perform deep breathing:
Physical activity will inevitably reduce your stress level and should include anaerobic and aerobic exercise. Anaerobic exercise includes bodyweight movements (i.e., squats, crunches, deadlifts, etc.) as well as resistance training (i.e., weight training). Be sure to warm up before exercising and perform static stretches immediately following your workout. Aerobic exercise includes any activity that you can perform for long durations (i.e., 20 to 50 minutes) and includes biking, jogging, swimming, etc. Again, be sure to warm up before exercising and cool down afterwards.
Bad posture may increase the stress your body feels. Good posture entails level shoulders, scapulae and hips as well as a normal spinal curvature. Any muscular imbalance can cause bad posture. Many people exhibit round, slumped shoulders. This is usually a result of tight (shortened) chest and front shoulder muscles and weakened (overstretched) upper back and rear shoulder muscles. In this case, the tight anterior muscles should be stretched and the weakened posterior muscles need to be strengthened. Recommended exercises may include: scapulae squeezes by clasping the hands behind your back and lifting your arms; the doorway stretch; v-bar rows; v-bar front pulldowns; and rear bar pulldowns.
Eating healthier foods may lessen your stress levels. A poor diet may increase stress. A good diet consists of all the essential vitamins and minerals and helps to maintain a healthy body weight. Consider what you eat, when you eat, and how much food you eat. Here are some diet tips to reduce stress:
Here are tips on how to relieve body pain as a result of stress:
Here are other stress-managing tips:
As you can see, there are many ways you can reduce stress in your life. You can relax by performing deep breathing exercises, be active by performing weight training and cardio activities, improve your posture, get at least seven hours of quality sleep per night, eat a well-balanced diet, avoid alcohol and drugs, and set realistic goals and accomplish them. The important thing is for you to enjoy life, take control of your destiny, fulfill your own expectations, maintain your self-esteem, keep learning, and most of all keep a positive attitude.
Brian Danley, CFT
"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."
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I'm a personal trainer who loves to help others fulfill their health and fitness goals. I consider myself a bodybuilder in that I live the lifestyle of eating healthy food, working out regularly, and sculpting my body.