Women - Reduce Stress to Feel Better
Every woman has a point where stress starts to take a toll on her health. When stress is excessive it can express itself as nervousness, mood swings, an inability to concentrate or episodes of fear and panic. Few women realize that stress exacerbates every female cycles beginning with preadolescence through post menopause. Because chronic stress leads to overproduction of adrenaline, cortisol and estrogen hormones, it triggers unpleasant physical symptoms, from the bloating and cramping of PMS to the hot flashes and night sweats of menopause.
Many studies show that extreme stress increases susceptibility to virtually every major category of disease and is at the bottom of an estimated 80% of all illnesses. The overproduction of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol promote arterial inflammation and is one of the top risk factors for heart disease. Too much estrogen triggers tumor growth. There is also ample evidence that stress increases the risk of developing infectious disease and is implicated in the recurrences of genital herpes and bladder infections. Researchers even see a relationship between stress and occurrences of psoriasis, a chronic skin disease.
Take Steps to Reduce Stress – The best thing you can do to enjoy better health is to practice relaxation techniques. Reducing stress lets your body release tension and allows time to repair and rejuvenate. The method you choose depends on your own needs. Some people see stress as a challenge and take it in stride. It takes a lot to affect them. Still others become overwhelmed easily and end up physical wrecks. Power walking and vigorous exercise may suit the former while yoga stretches or meditation may suit the latter. In either case it is helpful to know how you handle stress and when you need to harness resources to relieve it. In fact it is not the stress so much but the way you handle it that is more important to your physical and emotional health.
Stop and Take a Deep Breath - The most effective and least complicated way to relieve stress is through deep breathing. When you are stressed, your breathing becomes shallow or rapid causing muscles to tense and your heart to beat rapidly. Your body is literally preparing for “fight or flight”. Taking slow, deep breaths signals the mind to relax. The lungs fill with oxygen dispersing energy throughout the body. Muscles relax, the heart rate normalizes, breath is calmed and balance is restored.
Breathe From the Diaphragm - Learning the correct deep breathing technique is important for maximum benefit: Sit or lie down comfortably. Loosen all tight clothing. Place your hand on your lower abdomen and feel it rise and fall as you breathe. Next take slow deliberate breaths. When you inhale imagine you are blowing up a balloon. Your stomach should rise. This allows the diaphragm to contract, and oxygen to fill the lungs. As you exhale, imagine deflating the balloon or letting the air out. Continue to inhale and exhale slowly. Visualize clearing toxins, fatigue and worry as you exhale. Repeat for three to five minutes.
Take time out several times a day, between activities, to relax. With daily practice you will find you can quickly slip into relaxation mode. And reap the rewards. The first thing you will notice is that you have more energy throughout the day. You will also have a slower pulse, lower blood pressure and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Women who take time out to practice relaxation during the day significantly reduce their risk for stress related disease.