In coping with stress and in order to ensure that you take preventative measures (prevention is better than cure!), there are a number of things you can physically do. Remember though, that:
- “Rome wasn’t built in a day” (ie., results won’t happen overnight), and
- Self-discipline is not a dirty word! (it’s an asset to success)
Watch Your Diet
Feeding the body healthy food can directly help the rehabilitation process. You are what you eat!
It’s a good idea to reduce your intake of fats, cut down on sugar, salt, food additives, and so forth and anything deep-fried or burnt (eg., burnt toast, overcooked chops or meat at a barbecue). Also avoid, if possible, salted, smoked or preserved fish and meat.
Instead, you should eat fruit and vegetables (preferably fresh and ripe) and increase your fibre (eg., eat whole grain foods rather than refined ones and stop peeling vegetables like potatoes and cucumbers). The less processed food we eat, the better, because processing is inclined to strip away important content like fibre.
Fat, especially animal fat, is the most damaging of all foods. Cholesterol is obtained only from products derived from animals such as meat, prawns, oysters, organ meat and caviar as well as from dairy products such as eggs and cheese.
Instead, chicken with the skin removed or lean meat cooked without fat is fine up to three times a week and certain kinds of fresh fish are thought to help in reducing fatty substances in the blood. Polyunsaturated fats are definitely not as destructive as animal fats, but they, too, should be used sparingly. Skim milk, though, is also seen as a valuable source of protein.
With fluid intake, don’t underestimate the goodness in water; it really is a healthy drink. You use about 2.5 litres/day in fluid — food and digestion supplies about 1.5 litres, so that leaves a litre short; watch what is in the other litre that you drink!
Much has been written and said about what constitutes a healthy diet and not everyone agrees with all the specifics, but the information listed above ought to be some guide.
Arguments for and against vitamins continue.
Sometimes, it can be worthwhile to take a vitamin and mineral supplement. Of course, if you are eating properly, there is generally no need to look at a supplement, but there is some evidence to suggest that a higher does of Vitamin B, C & E may help in your general health.
Vitamin B, sometimes promoted as an “anti-stress” vitamin, does not prevent distress, but it does replace the loss of this vitamin caused by distress and so in that way, it can be helpful. Furthermore, there is a general consensus that diets high in Vitamins C & E also assist health.
Resist Use of Drugs
With drugs, some people need an immediate relaxant for a short period of time to get over the crisis period. Others may need an anti-depressant for a period of time to help them over the feeling of being down. Occasionally, some individuals also ask for sleeping tablets. These drugs are prescribed by your general practitioner and taken under his/her direction.
It must be said, however, as a general rule, don’t take medication unless you consider it absolutely necessary. Drugs do suppress your natural emotional states and do affect your sleep patterns which may not necessarily be to your advantage when you are trying to work through stress or trauma.
Clinical experience shows that physical exercise does help reduce the effects of stress. The kind of exercise though depends on the individual person. While some like walking, others like jogging, bike riding, playing squash or working out in a gym.
Irrespective, research shows that the minimum amount of time for effective fitness is three times a week for 20 minutes. There is no need to feel exhausted at the end of it; the aim is simply to increase the pulse rate moderately as well as your breathing rate and depth. Healthy exercise is not meant to be painful.
Nevertheless, regular exercise does help to “work off” a stress reaction.
Use Your Brain to Cut Stress
This hint comes from a piece of interesting information from a nutritional consultant in Canada. It is suggested that you can relieve stress by understanding which hemisphere of your brain is stressed.
In other words, if you feel depressed or emotionally overwrought, your stress is in the right hemisphere – ie., the creative, emotional, holistic side of the brain. What to do? Switch to your matter-of-fact left hemisphere by doing arithmetic, writing factual prose or organising. The emotional right brain will calm down.
If you feel time-stressed and over-burdened, the left hemisphere is involved. What to do? Switch to your right brain by singing, exercising or playing a sport.
Remember, don’t wait until you feel like doing these things – if you wait until you feel like it, you’ll never do it. As the Nike slogan says. “Just do it”!