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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Stress & Exercise: How do I make it Work for Me?

by: Tanja Gardner


Everyone knows that exercise reduces stress levels. Doesn’t it?

Actually, some of the research is a little conflicting. For a start, vigorous exercise is actually stressor itself. On a physical level, exercise causes the tiny muscle fibres to actually tear, and then grow back stronger as they heal. Not exactly relaxing for the muscles in question! Quite apart from this, one study showed anxiety levels increase in the first 5-10 minutes of exercise as adrenaline – one of the key stress hormones – kicks in. So how can it be that exercise reduces our stress and anxiety levels over time?

The quick answer is that while exercise is a short-term stressor, lack of exercise is a long-term one. As we mentioned in last week’s stress newsletter, our bodies are built for movement. When we’re sedentary day after day, all the systems that have evolved to service a body-in-motion start to break down, which causes waste-products to build up.

Our stress response originally allowed us to either fight a potential threat get as far away from it as possible. These are both fairly physical activities. All the biochemical changes – the stress hormones released – are based around this response. They allow us to get into action – and quickly! It’s no surprise, then, that unless we do what our bodies expect and get moving, those hormones have nothing to do but hang around in our bloodstream, making us feel jumpy, irritable and just plain stressed. As soon as we start moving though, the hormones have done their job. Our body as a whole can return to normal, and relaxation can ensue.

There’s more to the de-stressing effect, though, than just clearing hormones from your bloodstream. First there’s the well-documented release of endorphins– nature’s opiates – into your bloodstream. These act to both deaden pain and make you feel wonderful. On top of this, regular exercise actually strengthens your body – improving your sleep, boosting your circulatory and immune systems. Since these are the very things that the stress response attacks, regular exercise becomes a form of preventative maintenance.

Then there are psychological buffers that exercise offers against stress. As we set ourselves exercise plans and goals, and stick to them, we start believing in ourselves more. This can translate directly into the way we deal with the stressors in our life. If we feel more in control of them, the stressors become less powerful.


So what do the experts recommend when it comes to controlling stress with exercise?

First and foremost, don’t overdo it. Too much exercise, or exercise sessions without enough rest time between them, lead to overtraining, and overtraining is as dangerous a stressor as anything the work world can throw at you. The current ACSM guideline for a healthy lifestyle is 30-45 minutes, 3-5 times a week. If you haven’t exercised for some time, check with your doctor first, and then start small. Even 10 minutes three times a week is better than nothing. If you want to do more than this, feel free, but if you start waking up tired, getting injury prone, or losing ground instead of gaining it, you need to cut back, or you’ll just increase your stress.

Secondly, make sure you enjoy what you do. Exercise performed because you have to is not going to keep you motivated to do it, and the resentment you feel won’t help with your stress levels. There’s a wealth of exercise options – from walking, swimming and cycling, through to aerobics, martial arts and team sports.

In fact, you don’t actually need to ‘exercise’ to exercise. All you need to do is get active – so if walking the dog, digging in your garden, or playing with your kids appeals to you more, they’re just as valid. And if you need a little help making the commitment, consider the services of a personal trainer.

Lastly, be aware that whatever is causing the stress, simple activity is not going to magically deal with it. If you’re not sure where your stress is coming from, you might benefit from one-to-one coaching with a stress management expert. If you know the root cause, however, getting active will put you in a far better frame of mind, body and spirit, to manage it yourself. And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the true miracle of exercise.

About the author:

Optimum Life's Tanja Gardner is a Stress Management Coach and Personal Trainer whose articles on holistic health, relaxation and spirituality have appeared in various media since 1999. Optimum Life is dedicated to providing fitness and stress management services to help clients all over the world achieve their optimum lives. For more information please visit check out,or contact Tanja on

How to Relieve Stress

by: Trevor Dumbleton

One question that is not asked enough by people under stress is how to relieve stress. Unfortunately, people who are under stress tend to simply take it as a matter of course and simply accept its existence as though it was some sort of natural occurrence, or even a boon! Thus, people who are feeling the effects of stress do not actually take the time to notice that they are under stress and need relief. And when people are under stress, the first part of tackling the problem of how to relieve stress is actually realizing that there is stress that needs to be relieved.

Are you having trouble concentrating? Are you struggling with a project that doesn't seem to be going anywhere? Are you dealing with people who simply will not listen to sense? Are you frustrated with the way things are going? Congratulations, you have stress. Okay, this is not really something to be congratulated on, but it is important to understand this fact. After all, the beginning of the "How to relieve stress" problem begins with recognizing the warning signs. Then, once the warning signs are seen, healing can begin.

The first thing to do when you want to know how to relieve stress is to learn how to walk away. That's right, get up, go someplace else, and just cool off. It is often vital to hit that reset button and take a few deep breaths away from the action. The work will still be there when you get back, but being there beyond your breaking point will not get it done. An overabundance of things to do will not be helped by a clouded mind, so give your mind a break. Then, once your head is clear again, you can head back and bang out the projects with the greatest of ease. Or at least more ease than when you were sitting in front of a pile of work and wondering how you would get through it all.

Okay, so you need a break, you have walked away, but you are still so stressed that you are ready to pop. Unfortunately, the previous lesson on how to relieve stress has not worked and you need something more powerful. Well, you need to pull out a better method. This means that you need to simply concentrate on nothing.

When stress is way too much for a simple period of walking away, you need to practice an exercise in meditation. This means sitting down, closing your eyes, and thinking about absolutely nothing. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to think about nothing, so you should think about your breathing. Take a deep breath in and feel the air moving through your nostrils, down your windpipe, and into your lungs. Then push that breath out and feel it moving all the way up from your diaphragm, up into your lungs through your windpipe and out of your nostrils. Feel every motion of the air and notice how it feels as it exits. Imagine your tension flowing out with the air, evaporating into the endless space of the atmosphere, diluting into a complete dilution of oxygen. Think about nothing but breathing and notice every moment of the experience. Then, after about 3 or 4 breaths -- or as many as it takes -- open your eyes. You should feel as refreshed as though you just took a quick, refreshing nap. If you don't repeat the exercise until your mind is clear and you are able to concentrate on your work again.

These activities are very effective for a short period of time, but you will also need a method for relieving stress in the long run. After all, it is taxing to notice that you are under stress and it takes a great deal of will to make that leap and push away all those feelings. Thus, you need a way to relieve stress in the long term.

In the long term, the best method to choose, when you want to know how to relieve stress, is to do what you always say you are going to do: eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep at night. Yes, we all say that we will do it, but none of us every actually follow through. But, if you eat right, you will feel better during the day, if you exercise, you will feel better during the day and sleep better at night, and if you sleep enough, you will actually clear away all that fogginess that can lead to stress. So do your body and your mind a favor by taking care of those little things that you keep telling yourself you will do tomorrow. After all, today was yesterday's tomorrow.

When you want to know how to relieve stress, you should begin with a few simple methods as you slowly build up your will power to tackle the larger work of exercising, eating right, and getting the sleep you need. By doing all of these things, your mind will be cleared up, you will feel better during the day, you will sleep better at night, and you will not have to worry about stress nearly as much. After all, once you are relieving stress routinely, you won't have to worry about how to relieve stress.

About the author: for everything to do with stress. Get a free ebook to help with your stress levels:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Discover the Common Causes of Anxiety Attacks

By Gerry Restrivera

Millions of people are suffering from anxiety disorder, this condition is very disabling that it affects even their daily activities. It is an extreme fear over something without a rational reason that can result to symptoms like trembling, sweating, feeling of unreality, feeling of losing your mind, chest pains, dizziness and fainting. Imagine experiencing these symptoms in the middle of a crowded place or while driving. This condition could be really disabling and it is important to know the causes of anxiety attacks to prevent it from happening.
Here are some of the common causes of anxiety attacks:
Genetics. If this disorder runs in the family, you have high tendency to develop the same disorder but this does not automatically mean that everyone in the family will have the disorder. People who have no family history of anxiety disorder can also have this disorder.
Stress. Emotional stress and distressing experiences can affect ones physical and mental health. It is one of the most common causes of anxiety attacks. If there are things and happenings that keep bothering you, it is best to learn how to deal with it. If you cannot deal with it on your own, it is important to talk to somebody or seek professional help.
Lack of rest. If you are physically and mentally exhausted, you will easily get anxious and it will aggravate your anxiety disorder. Get enough rest and sleep to make your mind and body healthy and strong. A healthy mind and body is capable of preventing anxiety or panic attacks.
Unhealthy diet. If you have poor diet and lack the necessary vitamins to keep you healthy, an imbalance in your mind and body could occur and it may lead to anxiety attacks. Poor diet and vitamin deficiency are other common causes of anxiety attacks.
Knowing the causes of anxiety attacks will help you prevent and lessen your attacks. Anxiety disorder is a treatable condition and if you want to totally eliminate anxiety or panic disorder using natural remedies visit Cure Anxiety and Panic Disorder
To know more about natural remedies visit Great Discovery-Health and Beauty
Gerry Restrivera writes informative articles on various subjects including Discover the Common Causes of Anxiety Attacks. You are allowed to publish this article in its entirety provided that author's name, bio and website links must remain intact and included with every reproduction.

A Real Look at Anxiety Treatment

By Diana Ketchen
The proper anxiety treatment is just one of those things that are necessary for an individual suffering from anxiety. Anxiety disorders are the most common amongst all mental disorders in the United States. Approximately 40 billion people in the United States suffer from an anxiety attack at any given time.
Treatment for anxiety costs the United States more than $42 billion dollars per year. Suffering from this type of disorder can wreak havoc on every aspect of a person's existence. People quit their jobs, lose their friends, and some even lose their spouses because of this life altering disorder.
Symptoms of anxiety include chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, a feeling that one is losing control, racing thoughts, and a racing heartbeat. There are many things that can trigger anxiety disorder. If an individual is having financial problems or family issues, they are much more likely to become a victim of anxiety than someone who is not.
Experiencing a death of a close friend or relative may also heighten your chances. Getting a divorce or losing your job also make you a likely candidate. Anxiety disorder seems inevitable, and unfortunately, we all experience the symptoms from time to time. The right type of anxiety treatment can help to alleviate the symptoms and help the individual be able to cope with the illness much better than before.
Prescription medicine is only one of the ways to treat anxiety. There are plenty of people who cannot tolerate this type of anxiety treatment because it does more harm than good. For each anxiety symptom they have, they'll end up with a side effect from the medication. That is definitely not what people want to obtain from anxiety treatment.
Proper treatment for anxiety will work to treat the symptoms without added side effects. One treatment available for anxiety that does not have side effects is Passion Flower. Originally used as a sedative, Passion Flower is known for it's ability to soothe and calm the individual's body and mind. It helps to soothe a nervous stomach� and lower high blood pressure.
Another natural anxiety treatment is Humulus lupulus, which is known for its bitter flavor and aroma as well as its calming effects on the central nervous system. Valeriana officinalis is also a natural remedy used to calm and soothe the mind and body. It has sedative-like properties and can also help ease panic attacks, which are often associated with anxiety disorder.
All of the treatments listed above have no known side effects. There is nothing worse than knowing the medicine you are about to take could possibly kill you. It seems harsh, because it is. The side effects of prescription medications can sometimes turn deadly. Many of the most well-known anxiety medications have a very bad reputation for causing people to overdose. But you have a choice.
If you have been diagnosed with anxiety disorder or suffer from similar symptoms, you must know that there is always a way to get your life back. If you choose to take the prescription medication route, then always keep in mind what the possible consequence are that may occur. Other than that, there is an endless world full of just the right anxiety treatment for you. Put in the time and effort to research the various options available to you. After all, it is your health!
Diana is a Natural Health Consultant and is currently taking classes to earn a certificate in herbalism. Her website, Natural Health and Herbal Remedies, offers the knowledge, insights and experiences she has gained from her journey into the world of natural health and her quest to share it with others. Learn more about anxiety at her website.