Monday, May 21, 2007

The Symptoms Of Stress

While it is impossible to predict how stress will affect an individual there are some common symptoms that identify that someone is probably experiencing sudden or chronic stress.

Sudden stress is a one-off occurrence, like your car breaking down in rush hour traffic or having to give a speech. Some of the symptoms of sudden stress are

  • higher blood pressure - higher blood pressure cannot always be detected but bulging veins are an obvious sign of high blood pressure.
  • clenching of the jaw or grinding of the teeth.
  • clenching of fists and tightening of muscles in the arms.
  • shallow breathing.
  • headaches.
  • profuse sweating.

Chronic stress is regular and unrelieved sudden stress. A typical example of chronic stress would be meeting monthly mortgage or credit card payments knowing that you don't have the money to afford them. Meeting tight or unrealistic deadlines at work would also be another example of chronic and unremitting stress. By it's very nature, chronic stress is potentially harmful to a persons health unless treated or managed. Some of the common symptoms of chronic stress are

  • heart disease - an increased level of amino acid plasma homocysteine caused by stress is thought to increase the risk to heart disease.
  • Strokes - blood is thought to become thicker due to the changes in the biochemistry in the blood which lead to an increase in blood clots and strokes.
  • Catching colds, flu's and other ailments often and struggling to shift them - it is thought that stress affects the white blood cell count.
  • Stomach problems such as diarrhoea, constipation, cramping or bloating.
  • Sleeping disorders - the full gamut of sleeping disorders from insomnia to inability to stay in deep sleep.
  • Reduced brain functions - memory, concentration and learning functions are all thought to suffer when under chronic stress.
  • Sexual problems - for men, temporary impotence. For women a loss of sexual desire, intensified PMS or a shut down in menstruation.

Some or all of these symptoms could affect the individual. It is often hard to pinpoint stress as the direct cause of, say, catching a cold but by changing simple aspects of your lifestyle you may find common complaints and odd aches and pains diminish. Incorporating a regular exercise routine, for example, could improve your stress levels and health. The body is a remarkable system. If you can ensure that the components can run in harmony then the body will take care of itself.

If you feel that you might have some of these symptoms then find out how to deal with them by visiting . There are some ideas on how to reduce stress and relaxation techniques that can help you. Adrian Whittle writes on issues related to stress including stress management for stress relief and how stress affects the immune system.

6 Natural Ways to Relieve Stress

Stress is a natural and necessary part of life, but, when we encounter a stressful situation, our bodies undergo a series of hormonal and biochemical changes that put as in a "fight-or-flight" mode. Our heart rate increases, adrenaline rushes through our blood stream, and our digestive and immune systems temporarily shut down. If the stressors continue and we stay on high alert for a prolonged period of time, we experience exhaustion and burn out. To avoid this, try one of these 6 natural ways to relieve stress and return to a state of calm and relaxation.

1) Deep Breathing. When you’re facing a stressful situation, you can reduce your stress simply by deep breathing. Deep breathing involves not only the lungs, but also the abdomen. To experience abdominal breathing, sit comfortably with your back straight. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Inhale through your nose and the hand on your stomach should begin to rise. Your other hand should move very little. Exhale as much air as you can while contracting your abdominal muscles. Once again, the hand on your stomach should move in as you exhale, but your other hand should move very little.

2) Progressive Relaxation. You can combine deep breathing with the controlled contracting and relaxing of muscles to achieve an additional level of relief from stress: To experience progressive relaxation, loosen your clothing and get comfortable. Tighten the muscles in your toes. Hold for a count of 10. Relax and enjoy the release of tensionFlex the muscles in your feet. Hold for a count of 10. Relax. Move slowly up through your body--legs, abdomen, back, neck, face--contracting and relaxing muscles as you go. Breathe deeply and slowly.

Meditation. When you meditate you bring together all of the mind’s energies and focus them on a word, a sound, a symbol, a comforting image, or your own breathing. People typically meditate sitting on the floor or in a chair with their eyes closed in a quiet, clean place. All meditation practices involve the development of mindfulness--being fully engaged in whatever is happening in the present moment, without analyzing or otherwise “over-thinking” the experience.

Cardiovascular exercise. If you’re trying to manage or relieve stress, you should try working up a sweat on a regular basis because vigorous exercise helps the mind as much as it benefits the body. You can start with as little as 15 minutes, twice a week. However, 20 to 60 minutes, five or more times a week is recommended for optimal stress management.

5) Yoga. Yoga is a broad term for a series of practices, which unite your physical, mental and spiritual resources with the goal of attaining a state of wholeness and completeness. Yoga postures are designed to balance the different systems of the body, including the central nervous, the endocrine (glandular), and the digestive systems. By slowing down your mental activity, taking your mind off the causes of stress, and having you gently stretch your body in ways that massage your internal organs, yoga helps you create dynamic peacefulness within yourself.

6) Tai Chi. Tai Chi is a series of slow, gentle, flowing body movements that emphasize concentration, relaxation, and the conscious circulation of vital energy throughout the body. Tai Chi is primarily practiced today as a way of calming the mind, conditioning the body, and reducing stress. As in meditation, Tai Chi practitioners focus on their breathing and keeping their attention in the present moment.

You can select one or more of the above natural ways to relieve stress according to your lifestyle and preference. Stress is unavoidable, but being stressed out isn't. Implementing these practices into your daily routine can go a long way toward reducing stress in your life and leaving you healthier and happier.

Seamus McGillicuddy writes about reducing and managing the stress in our lives at his blog Stress Relief. To learn about a revolutionary easy-to-follow program that will kick stress, depression, and anxiety out of your life FOREVER, visit his website Incredible Discoveries.

6 Ways to Release Stress

We are currently living in a capitalist society where money and power rule. Therefore, many of us have become workaholics and often overlook signs of tiredness in order to stay on track. I am not saying that people should stop working hard to achieve their goals. However, there is a slight problem we do not know how to manage our stress, which is definitely not a good thing! Stress has been linked to mental/emotional (depression, anxiety, and anger) and physical illnesses (weakens the immune system). Therefore, it is more than important that you constantly work on reducing your stress level in order to maintain your overall health. The bottom line is, if we are not healthy there is no money or power that will make things better. So, take care of yourself. Below, I have added six stress releasing tips.

Exercise: even if you go for a walk for 15-25 minutes four days a week it will help your body to get rid of adrenaline and produce endorphins (a natural tranquilizer). Not to mention you will not only feel better, you will also look the part.

Yoga: Many ramble that practicing yoga is the best way to manage or release stress. It focuses on breathing techniques, exercises, connecting with the universe on a spiritual and mental level. If this option seems interesting to you I suggest you do some research in order to learn the principles and decide if it is for you.

Stretch: People often stretch before and after a workout. However, learning stretching and flexing exercises to use as a way to relieve tension on many different areas of the body can help a great deal.

Massage: We all know how massages can help us relax and release tension. Prices start around $40 for 30 minutes; it all depends on what extra relaxation techniques you would like to add to the massage such as aromatherapy, oils, etc. There are also different types of massages so this will also affect the price. I actually found a therapist that charges $33 for a 30 minute session. It sounds pretty good to me. We waste money in so many different ways so investing on a massage once in a while will not kill our pockets.

Laugh it off: Rent a funny movie and laugh out loud. Go out with friends or host gatherings. Tell everyone to bring a platter. Remember the key is to release tension not, add to it. Use paper plates and plastic cups to reduce the amount of work.

Take a break- Take time to relax, sleep, and maybe even take a vacation if you can. Your body does not only need it; you deserve it.

Is Stress Killing Your Health

Many people constantly talk about stress all the time. You know I often feel those who talk about stress all the time and such, are trying to cope with a problem internal. I think that stress in life is a matter of your experiences and what might stress some out, certainly has little affect on others.

Back when I use to race motorcycles I saw that what was once stressful in a high-speed corner on a street bike, eventually turned into a reflex. It is like practicing cross-wind landings in a tail-dragger, after a while it is natural. It is like deleting the fear of heights walking across a plank after you do it a lot, no more fear. Gymnasts often talk about such fears.

It seems much of this is conditioning. So, if you are conditioned to work hard to be the best in everything you do then you have mastered that. Stress and hardship is a good thing and those who go around avoiding it at all costs will be sorry in the end. Avoidance is not always the answer, as that which does not kill us makes us stronger.

Adversity builds character and part of your personal character growth does involve stress you see? Is stress killing you or are you killing yourself by acknowledging it and dwelling on it so much. Stop using stress as an excuse, start winning and stop complaining, is the advice I most often give on this subject.

Lead by example and move beyond those psychological artificial barriers that are preventing you from being everything that you want to be in life. By over coming hardship and stress you will be helping those who watch you, do the same.

L. Winslow is an Economic Advisor to the Online Think Tank, a Futurist and retired entreprenuer. Currently he is planning a bicycle ride across the US to raise money for charity and is sponsored by and all the proceeds will go to various charities who sign up.

Stress Can Rule Your Life

Everyone can suffer from stress at some time in their life but how do you identify when it’s hit a danger point in your life? Feeling a bit anxious, or stressed, when you’re trying to meet an important deadline at work, or when you need to get up and give a speech to the PTA, is really normal. But if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by life’s most ordinary tasks, too much stress may be to blame.

Stress can and does impact the body physically, emotionally and even behaviorally. A few danger signs to look out for are:

Emotional Distress.

When you find your emotions running rampant, it may be time to evaluate the stressors in your life. Sudden mood changes, unreasonable anxiety, finding it difficult to get to sleep or staying asleep, trouble concentrating, and even excess worry and feeling tense all of the time, are sure signs of stress.

Behavioral indicators.

Do you notice that you tend to overreact? Do you act on impulse or withdraw from relationships with friends, family, or even your co-workers? Are you using drugs or alcohol more frequently than ever before? It may be these stresses in your life are having a negative effect on the manner in which you deal with the pressures around you.

Physical Symptoms.

Stress is known to have a negative effect on an individuals health. As stress builds up over time, with very little release, anxiety can turn inward, causing both annoying physical complaints like fatigue and headaches, to more grave problems like diabetes and strokes, among others. Too much stress has also been linked to some strains of cancer.

When somebody starts to show these signs, chances are stress has already begun to impact their lives in a negative way. They could be feeling overwhelmed or seriously tired, or have a list of more serious health complaints.

Depression too has been linked to chronic stress, especially for those with a family history of the disease. Special care should be taken when the stress factors in life start to impact you so greatly that intense feelings of melancholy ensue. Depression, like stress, can be treated with medication and therapy and must never be ignored.

Stress has a place in everyone’s life. It is a great source of power and can help us to overcome great obstacles and face emergencies with clarity and focus. Too much, however, can turn us inward, strip our confidence, and overwhelm us so greatly that we find it difficult to complete the most basic tasks. Stress can give us strength, or it can deplete us of our reserves, leaving us exhausted and overwhelmed. Learning how to recognize when you've got too much stress, and discovering a means of dealing with it are vital if you want a healthier lifestyle.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

deal with stress (personal experience)

A rocket-propelled grenade screeched by, just missing David Roan.

Over his head, sparks flew from a shot-up transformer. He quickly realized a fellow soldier was dangerously exposed, lying prone with a bulky machine gun. He dragged the soldier to the cover of a trash can.

It was late summer 2003, during street-to-street fighting in the Tigris River city of Samarra. Roan was a young infantry squad leader trying to survive in Iraq's Sunni Triangle -- a haven for insurgents.

He can recall many tense times during his year in Iraq. The experiences accumulated. He developed a common anxiety illness among returning soldiers, post-traumatic stress disorder.

Now 28, Roan has just moved to Wichita to establish himself as a general contractor. He is staying temporarily with Micah Frayne, one of the men who was under his command in Iraq.

Frayne, 24, also has been diagnosed with PTSD.

The two friends receive counseling from the VA.

They say they have learned to cope with PTSD and are moving ahead with life after Iraq.

Nearly four years after they experienced a war together, they and other members of their close-knit platoon stay in touch. They have become their own informal support group.

Sitting in Frayne's living room Thursday, Roan motioned to Frayne and said: "He comes back, this kid is not the same. None of us are."

Coming back from the war, Frayne interjected, "I had zero emotion."

As members of the 4th Infantry Division, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, based in Fort Carson, Colo., they arrived in Iraq in early April 2003. It was just days after the invasion.

Frayne had been determined to go, even though he had injured his knee. He went to Iraq wearing a leg brace.

From a camp at a former Iraqi air base south of Samarra, Roan and Frayne rode the same Bradley fighting vehicle.

In combat, when a Bradley's rear ramp goes down, six heavily armed infantrymen wearing body armor rush out to confront whatever threat lies before them. Time after time, Roan and Frayne went down the ramp with an us-vs.-the-world mentality.

Every day, they stalked door to door, city to city, looking for insurgents. They went on patrols. They ran checkpoints. They worked, Roan said, "in the middle of a city that is actively trying to kill you."

When one of their squad members squatted to defecate in the dust -- becoming a vulnerable target to the enemy -- a fellow soldier would stand guard over him.

They developed an aggressive, unsympathetic attitude toward Iraqis. "We knew we were not wanted," Roan said.

It wasn't just Samarra. They got the same reception in Tikrit and Fallujah.

At least three men -- out of about 90 infantrymen in their company -- died in Iraq in 2003 and 2004. During the time Roan was there, about 25 wounded soldiers in his unit received Purple Hearts.

A rocky return home

After seven months, Frayne's service in Iraq ended. On the flight back to Colorado, he cried -- something against an infantryman's code. He felt guilty for leaving his platoon behind.

His first months back, he drank abusively.

"I'd drink a bottle of vodka before I'd go out to the bar," he said. "I was drinking to cope."

He also enjoyed simple pleasures that civilians sometimes take for granted. Sometimes, he took three showers a day.

But certain triggers pulled his thoughts back to Iraq: the smell of diesel fuel or something burning, the sound of someone speaking Arabic.

He had a relative who'd served in another war, who had PTSD. "I knew what it was," he said.

About a year and a half ago, Frayne sought help from the VA in Wichita.

"The motivation for going to the VA was if I kept going down this road, I was going to die," he said.

Many returning soldiers are reluctant to seek help, said Jeremy Crosby, lead psychologist in the PTSD clinic at Wichita's Dole VA Medical Center.

"Usually people have to hit bottom or have a major life event before seeking treatment," he said.

Veterans often don't recognize they have PTSD, he said. PTSD sufferers tend to isolate themselves.

PTSD symptoms include depression and having suicidal thoughts; local VA officials said they couldn't release any information about whether any returning soldiers have committed suicide.

Feelings of being alone

For awhile, Frayne isolated himself.

Then he sought counseling. He receives individual counseling from the VA center in Wichita, which has encouraged him to join a group of other Iraq war veterans. He hasn't, he said, because "I feel weird" talking to someone outside his old platoon.

"Are these guys going to think I'm full of crap?" he asked.

The counseling has helped, he said. Part of his coping is tuning out the bad thoughts.

He stopped drinking abusively.

For now, life is pretty good for Frayne. He has been promoted to crew chief with Cessna. "I love my job," he said, "and that's my main focus."

He's engaged to be married.

Roan, who reached the rank of staff sergeant after serving seven years in the Army, returned to Colorado after about a year in Iraq. Like Frayne, he had bouts of heavy drinking. (About half of men with PTSD have problems with alcohol, the VA says.)

At home, Roan couldn't relax, couldn't sleep. If he heard a noise, he had to investigate. It was as if he was back on patrol.

"I have cleared my house probably 20, 30 times.

"It'll hit me in traffic. It'll hit me at home.... I'm still on point."

Roan also has received help from the VA for his PTSD.

Because of the stigma attached to mental illness, "some guys are afraid to seek help," Roan said.

He thinks his PTSD has kept him from getting jobs.

"You get weeded out, man," he says.

For the time being, he's feeling some sense of accomplishment by making things with his hands. He is working to build a business as a general contractor.

It helps his mind to stay busy. "Basically," he said, "I've got a never-ending supply of work."