Essential tips on living a stress-free life
Stress exists when the adaptive capacity of an individual is overwhelmed by events. The event may be an insignificant one when objectively considered and even a favourable change (eg promotion and transfer) requiring adaptive behaviour can produce stress. Stress is subjectively defined for each individual and the response to stress is a function of each person’s personality and physiologic endowment.
People with fast paced lifestyle encounter exhausting work situations on a daily basis, therefore most professionals (eg officer workers, business executives, athletes) and other people with physically demanding lifestyles are predisposed to the risk of
• Imbalanced diet
• Irregular eating habits
• Poor supply of essential nutrients
• Poor physical and mental activity
Research, investigations and in-depth market surveys among professionals (both men & women) have clearly confirmed that unyielding work pressure produces stress at a point and such stress invariably result in irregular, inadequate and an imbalanced food intake.
It is important to identify the following issues in stress management
• How to spot the physical signs and symptoms of stress
• The importance of a healthy diet
• Identify and stop unhealthy habits
• How to exercise for stamina and strength
Physical signs & symptoms of stress
The physical stress response is merely the body gearing up for immediate action. The many physiological changes equip the body to respond instantly in the face of a threat. The sign of some physiologic changes that accompany stress are the early warning signals of stress:
• Fast breathing (difficulty catching your breath)
• Dry mouth and throat
• Clammy palms
• Feeling hot
• Tense muscles
How to cope with the physical signs & symptoms
• Consciously work to calm down
• Work on the physical symptoms directly
• Take slow and deliberate breaths
• Take a glass of water
• Make sure the room is well ventilated, go into the rest room and wash face with cold water
• Let your muscle and body relax
If the stress response is not given proper release (normally through a physical action) the body can remain at a heightened level of arousal. Repeated stressful events can prolong the state of stress.
The importance of a healthy diet
Healthy eating is part of stress management. A healthy diet may not solve all the stress problems, but it will make your body resistant to the effects of stress, leaving you with more energy to concentrate on the real issues.
One reason why we need to eat properly, particularly in times of stress is that under stress the body uses up more energy. A number of the physiological effects of stress (such as a rise in cholesterol levels, thickening of blood) can also be held in check by sensible eating.
• Drink adequate amount of water (8 glasses a day or 1.5lt): the physiologic effects of stress include dehydration and consequent thickening of the blood, undernourishment of the skin and digestive disorders. Increase intake of fluid does not mean just drinking more tea or coffee: these are diuretics and actually increase the rate at which liquid is lost.
• Eat plenty of unrefined foods: unrefined food is the whole food, with nothing taken out e.g whole wheat, when refined, the bran and the wheat germ are removed.
• Keep processing to a minimum: preparing food can sometimes diminish its nutritional value. High heat applied to any food tends to damage (denature) protein
• Be careful about fat: a certain amount of fat is essential in our diet to store energy, protect and insulate body organs, transport vitamins and supply essential fatty acids. However, too much fat, particularly if combined with lack of exercise, can lead to excessive weight gain.
• Cut down on sugar and salt: for most people, the sugar and salt we require are readily obtainable in our diet. It is not necessary to have added sugar and salt, so use them sparingly in cooking
Identify and stop unhealthy habits
• Eat regular meals rather than numerous snacks: snacks eating are difficult to monitor and therefore easy to get out of control. Snacks also offer a bad balance of vitamins. In many snacks, all you really get are empty calories and simple carbohydrates - grossly inadequate. Regular meals help you to monitor what you eat, and you can be more disciplined about avoiding snacks. Make it a habit to have breakfast, take your lunch break and do not forget to have something in the evening.
• Eat slowly: many of us eat too quickly for our own good. If you eat too quickly, you create a sudden load on your stomach. Allow one bite to be fully disposed of before you take the next. Chew your food thoroughly. It makes things easier for our digestive system.
• Take a proper break for your food: consider it an early warning signal that you are under stress if you cannot manage a proper break to eat. Meal times are natural breaks in the day, they provide an opportunity to slow down and take your mind off work. Taking a break maximizes the usefulness of a meal: you eat better and returm to work refreshed and better able to tackle what lies ahead. So, take a break for your meal.
• Sit down to eat: many people eat on the move or while they are working. They always eat and do something else at the same time. This is more harmful to the body.
• Eat less rather than more: eat a light lunch, if your stomach is full and your digestive system is working overtime, more of your energy will be diverted to that process. You will have less energy to perform. Eat sensibly and before major events, eat well in advance.
Exercise for stamina and strength
How do you feel when you are stressed?
Do you feel restless and want to get up and pace about?
Have you ever walked down the corridor for a cup of drink you really did not need?
These are early warning signs of stress. Your body is telling you that it is geared up for action.
What can you do?
• Move about when you feel the stress level rising. Go for a walk
• Incorporate a regular routine exercise into your everyday life
• Exercise for stamina: always work within your capabilities, start off with easy sessions and gradually move on.(e.g aerobics, running, cycling and swimming). These exercises help you use up oxygen faster and use more efficiently. Aim for as little as 15-20mins sessions, 3 or 4 times a week, plus anytime you are stressed.
• Exercise for strength: these help to keep muscle tone good and firm. They help release muscle tension. They require a greater amount of work that stamina exercises but the duration is shorter e.g weight training in the gym, press-ups.
Last Updated: 13-Jul-2017 10:09 AM