Perceiving and dealing with stress

·3 min read

In this article, Diana Tan Villanueva discusses the importance of educating oneself about stress. She is a lifestyle medical consultant at Diana Villanueva Wellness Center, a certified health and wellness coach, and a member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine.

What is stress?

Stress is a non-specific reaction of the body that’s triggered by something new or unexpected. It usually threatens or overwhelms the body’s sense of control.

How common is stress?

The Global Organization for Stress reports that 75 percent of people experience moderate to high level of stress, and stress is the number one health concern of high school students. Seventy percent of physician visits are related to stress.

What are the causes of stress?

Money is the number one cause of stress in the world today—credit card debts, mortgages, student loans and car loans.

What happens to the body when there is stress?

When the body perceives stress, it produces hormones that trigger the fight or flight response. According to the American College of Psychological Association, chronic stress is associated with the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung illnesses, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide.

Stress is everywhere. Even the happiest moments of one’s life—like having a baby or weddings—could be very stressful. And since there is no way to avoid it, everyone should learn more about what it is and how to manage it.

How does one manage stress?

  1. Recognize stress signals

  2. Identify stressors

  3. Plan ahead on how to combat stressor/s

What lifestyle changes can one make to manage stress?

1. Eat healthy

Eat anti-inflammatory food. One of the hormones that are being released by the body during stress is cortisol, which causes inflammation. Magnesium-rich food is anti-inflammatory. It relaxes the mind and body and increases melatonin to help regulate sleep. The food rich in Magnesium are: Nuts, spinach, banana, avocado, beans and peas.

Eat a balanced diet, and avoid alcohol, caffeine, and sugary food.

2. Muscular mediation or exercise.

Regular daily exercise—especially using large muscle groups—in a repetitive, rhythmic fashion like walking were found to be effective in combating stress. During exercise, endorphins are released, which act as natural painkillers and are responsible for the feelings of relaxation, optimism and being happy.

Endorphins also reduce levels of stress hormones.

3. Sleep early

According to the American Psychological Association, those who sleep less than eight hours a night experience ore stress than those who sleep at least eight hours. This is because sleep reduces cortisol levels.

4. Forgiveness and acceptance of things one cannot change

The Journal of Behavioral Medicine studied forgiveness and showed that forgiving is associated with a decreased risk of dying. During the study, it was found that forgiving oneself eliminates the link between stress and mental illness. Forgiveness puts the body into relaxation mode and turns off the flight and flight response—which is harmful to the body.

5. Spend time in nature

A study in Japan showed that people who spend at least 40 minutes in nature or do forest bathing have lower stress hormone levels. The study concluded that spending time in the forest induces relaxation.

6. Breathing exercises

Slow deep breathing for two to three minutes tells the brain to relax the body—to enter relaxation mode. This technique can be performed anytime and anywhere.

For more information about healthy living, visit The Diana Tan Villanueva Wellness Center at Kibalabag, Malaybalay, Bukidnon 8700. SPONSORED CONTENT.

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