Stress & Anxiety – Lifestyle Changes

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Stress Management

Everyone has coping mechanisms for stress but most people do not realize their behavior is a coping mechanism. Some coping mechanisms are good and some are bad. The bad ones can exacerbate the problems and create a downwards spiral of more stress, anxiety and depression.  The good coping mechanisms really can help reduce anxiety and depression.

These are the bad coping mechanisms:

  • Smoking.
  • Drinking too much.
  • Overeating or under-eating.
  • Blobbing in front of the TV or computer for hours on end.
  • Avoiding socializing.
  • Taking pills or drugs to relax.
  • Oversleeping.
  • Putting things off.
  • Filling every second of the day to avoid problems.
  • Taking stress out on others as angry outbursts, and even physical violence.

These are good coping mechanisms:

  • Going for a walk.
  • Spending time outdoors.
  • Calling a good friend.
  • Writing a diary.
  • Taking a long bath.
  • Playing with a pet.
  • Working in the garden.
  • Getting a massage.
  • Sitting quietly and reading a good book.
  • Listening to music.
  • Watching a comedy.
  • Dancing.
  • Exercise.

You’ll find great information on the four As (Avoid the stressor, Alter the stressor, Adapt to the stressor, Accept the stressor) method of stress management here:  http://www.helpguide.org/mental/stress_management_relief_coping.htm

Debbie Lawrence and Sarah Bolitho’s Stress, exercise your way to health is also good info.  http://www.amazon.com/Exercise-Your-Way-Health-Improve/dp/1408131803

Diet

If you are going through a period of high stress the general rule is eat healthily and eat little and often.  This keeps your blood sugar levels stable and helps you to avoid having peaks of high blood sugar with dips that are too low because the body is over compensating. Avoid excess nicotine and caffeine as they mimic the body’s stress response. Switch to decaffeinated drinks or restrict yourself to three cups a day. The exception to this is black tea which does have a calming effect. Cut back on processed foods and ready-made meals as well as sugar and salt.  Alcohol should be limited to one or two units a day as a maximum.

Good info on foods to eat can be found here http://www.stress.org.uk/files/Combat-Nutritional-Stress.pdf

 

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