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How to manage stress

By Charles Hopkins Published 08/8/2006 | Health

The best way to treat stress and its related problems is to manage it effectively. There are numerous ways through which stress can be dealt with.

The first thing to do is to pinpoint the causes of stress, which can be physical, emotional or mental. We must remember that our body is equipped by nature to fight stress to a certain degree. For instance, under stress our body releases endorphins that produce a feeling of well being.

The endorphins also counteract the effects of stress hormones by bringing down the blood pressure and the increased heart rate to normal. The blood circulation in the brain is increased allowing us to think clearly. This is commonly referred to as the relaxation response that is initiated by the body when it encounters stress.

Unfortunately, we are so deeply affected by stress that we fail to take advantage of the relaxation responses that are initiated by our body. As a result these responses become pointless. Instead, we allow our minds and body to be overtaken by restlessness, anger, anxiety, migraine and sleeplessness. Over a period of time these stressful reactions result in the development of chronic ailments. Excessive stress has an adverse effect on the normal functioning of our organ systems especially the immune system. Hence, we become vulnerable to infections, which, in turn, add to stress.

Most psychiatrists and doctors believe that laughter is a great way to treat stress. It takes your mind off unnecessary tensions and provides temporary respite. It has a calming and soothing effect on your mind. Studies have revealed that a person who is able to inject humor into a stressful situation is in a better position to deal with the problem than his counterparts. This is because humor reduces stress to a more realistic size that can be fought with.

Laughter is also beneficial for the health of the person. It increases blood circulation in the body, which in turn flushes the accumulated toxins. Increased blood circulation also removes the accumulated lactic acid from the muscles allowing them to breathe. It normalizes the blood pressure and the pulse rate, and stimulates the production of endorphins that makes a person feel good.

The immunity levels improve since there is a marked increase in the white blood cell count. Laughter also removes stale carbon dioxide from the lungs and fills it with fresh oxygen making you feel healthier and fresher. The mind is declogged from pent up feelings and energy. It becomes more focused and clear, and helps you handle emotions better.

Depending on the stressor you need to build a stress management plan. You should write down all those activities that can help you unwind. These can include having a game of tennis, listening to music or simply taking a walk. Sometimes talking to a friend or a family member can provide relief. You can also take the help of a counselor or your family doctor. Your goal should be to release all the stressful feelings and negative energy from your system.