20 May “Can Stress Do That?”
My knee-jerk response to that question is “yes.” I am not aware of any medical condition or organ system in the body that stress cannot antagonize. Stress can trigger headaches, tics, seizures, hives, dry mouth, trouble swallowing, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, incontinence, panic attacks, and accentuate the symptoms of almost any underlying medical condition. Recognizing this reality is of some value, being able to reduce one’s stress level is often times “easier said than done.”
Start by realistically evaluating your lifestyle. Do you get enough sleep? Are you eating healthy food on a regular basis? Are you getting some regular exercise? If you burn off some adrenaline with physical exertion you may have less left over with which to feel anxious. Are you caring for the known medical conditions that have already been identified? Are you allowing regular time for reflection and to feed your creative side? Are you listening to some good music and reading or listening to some well written encouraging material? Consider getting a massage or taking a warm bath. All these things are important and will not happen without some discipline and planning. Many people pay more attention to regular care and maintenance of their car than they do their lives.
Don’t overlook the value of music in your life. It is affordable and quite helpful for stress relief. Music has the ability to calm your breathing and heart rate. It can promote the release of endorphins which act as your natural painkillers and reduce muscle tension. Its ability to calm the nerves should not be overlooked. Its beneficial effects can be used in a wide variety of applications and transcend even language barriers. Young and older individuals are both responsive to its benefits.
Finding a balance in your life will help you cope with the inevitable ups and downs of daily living without getting “stressed out” as often. Many studies have confirmed that sharing struggles with close friends or family members regularly allows for more satisfaction and perhaps even longer lives. Read and listen to things that you find encouraging and carefully carve out times you can care for yourself. Learning to be kind to yourself is not selfish but rather essential. Your family and friends will thank you. Feeling stressed out or overwhelmed doesn’t help anyone.