A Fundamental Blueprint for Coping with Stress

Keys to Coping:  A Blueprint for Stress Management

You sit with your hands clutched to the steering wheel, your stress level rising by the minute.  You have exactly ten minutes before you have to get to the daycare center, and there’s an accident blocking traffic.  

After you pick up Jolene, you’ll have to go to the supermarket, the dry cleaner, and the library.  

Then it’s time to rush home for dinner, bathe Jolene, put her to bed, then collapse onto your bed.

You may find that your days are highly stressful—and your nights might be as well.  The good news is that there are techniques you can use in order to bring your stress level under control.  One of these is rehearsing your behavior.  

Say, for instance, you are preparing for a job interview.  You can role play, with your spouse playing the part of the interviewer and you portraying the interviewee.  

In this way, you can practice your answers to likely questions.  Knowing what to expect in advance can help you to control your stress level.

Another effective technique is to reframe debate.  For instance, suppose you have had a disagreement with your co-worker.  You’re worried that you will never be able to enjoy camaraderie with your co-worker again.  As a result, your stress level has hit the roof.  

You’ll be much better off if you see the disagreement as a challenge you must simply work your way through.  Look at the debate as a discussion between two intelligent people.  

Try your best to see the other person’s perspective.  In this way, you’ll be engaging in problem-solving rather than complaining, and your stress may be reduced because of it. 

Yet another stress management technique you can use is learning to control your anger.  It is often not a particular situation, but your reaction to it, that causes your stress level to climb.  When you find yourself becoming angry, redirect your energy.  

Think of something relaxing, such as a forest or a seashore.  Let the waves or the trees carry your anger away.  The old adage, “Don’t go to bed angry,” is a motto you should live by.  

The less anger you experience, the less stressed out you will feel.

 You might also try to stop your negative thinking.  Whenever a negative thought comes to mind, say “Stop!” to yourself.  

Or imagine putting a stop sign in front of your negative thought.  The idea here is to put an end to negative thinking—to, in effect, put it on the shelf so that you don’t have to worry about it.  

You’ll be surprised how relaxed you feel, once you stop engaging in negative thinking.      

 Another stress reliever is to find ways to boost your self-esteem.  Being hard on yourself can produce a great deal of stress.  

Once you recognize that you are a person worthy of love, you will be better able to cope with the stressors that come your way.  

Exercise is one route you can take in order to feel better about yourself.  It’s a proven fact that individuals who exercise have better outlooks on life.

 You may also want to set goals for yourself.  Perhaps you’ve always wanted to knit.  

Now is your golden opportunity.  Or maybe you’d like to run a marathon by the end of the year.  

The important thing is to set realistic goals and to commit to them.  Once you reach your goal, you will likely feel on top of the world.  

As you make progress toward your goal, you could find your stress level subsiding.    

 Stress relief is an on-going process.  You can’t expect to reduce your stress-level permanently in one day.  

But, by taking the steps listed above, you might find yourself better able to deal with stress on a daily basis.  

Remember that you may not be in complete control of what happens to you on any given day, but you can control your reaction to it.  

By focusing on the positive, putting an end to negative thinking, and setting goals for yourself, you should find your stress level declining.  

With less stress to worry about, you’ll find that life is more enjoyable.  Even that daily commute to the day care center might become more tolerable.  

Combating Anxiety:  The Alternative Way

Perhaps you break out into a cold sweat when you have to deliver a talk before a group of people.  Or perhaps you become nervous when you have to take a test.  

There are certainly numerous causes for anxiety.  Similarly, there are a number of treatment options for those afflicted with the illness.  If you don’t like the idea of medication, you might try an alternative approach to battling your anxiety.

It is estimated that nearly seven percent of Americans suffer from anxiety and panic disorders.  

While prescription drugs are routinely offered as a remedy for such illnesses, they can be dangerous if administered over a long period of time.  Some of the more popular anxiety drugs include Diazepam and Wellbutrin.

However, increasingly, Americans are turning to alternative medicines in an effort to soothe their anxious feelings.  In just the last decade, the demand for alternative medicine has skyrocketed 300 percent.  

This is partially the result of the fact that many alternative medicines offer relief from symptoms without the side-effects linked to prescription drugs.   

It should be noted, however, that natural remedies are not meant to be long-term treatments, although they can offer relief in the short-term.

 Before you buy a natural remedy, it is important that you do your homework as far as your knowledge of herbs and vitamins is concerned.  

It is also imperative that you consult your family physician in order to ensure that the alternative treatment is safe for you. 

 A number of herbs offer relief from the symptoms of anxiety.  For instance, St. John’s Wort is one of the most popular anti-anxiety herbs on the market.  

After taking St. John’s Wort for as little as two weeks, you should notice a difference in your anxiety level. Valerian Root is another alternative option you might try.  It is especially helpful in combating insomnia because of its sedative quality.  

In other words, it helps to lull the central nervous system to sleep.  Research indicates that Valerian Root is effective in improving sleep 90 percent of the time.  

This is important, since much of anxiety is linked to sleep disorders. 

Vitamins can also provide an effective treatment for anxiety.  They can be quite important in enabling neurotransmitter synthesis and maintenance.  

For instance, B-complex can help produce neurochemicals, which in turn assists in the synthesis of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.

Yet another aid to combating anxiety is Passion Flower.  It helps to calm the central nervous system, leading to feelings of peace.  Meanwhile, Ashwagandha Root can make you feel stronger so that you are better able to handle the effects of anxiety.

But perhaps no herbal remedy is quite as effective as Kava Kava.  This is considered to be one of the strongest anti-anxiety remedies in the world.  

A number of studies indicates that Kava Kava is highly effective in relieving the short-term symptoms of anxiety.  It is also considered quite safe to ingest, making it one of the most popular herbs available on the market today.

An herbal remedy called PureCalm is being marketed as a safe way to deal with general nervousness and worry.  You may feel relaxed after taking only a few drops of this natural substance.  

However, if you suffer from severe anxiety, including panic attacks, you might consider a remedy called MindSoothe, which combines St. John’s Wort with Passiflora.   

Mindsoothe has been linked to good sleep, greater concentration, and better memory.  Therefore, it is particularly effective in treating the symptoms of anxiety.

We all have feelings of anxiety from time to time.  But how can you tell if your anxiety is out of control?  If you experience racing thoughts, rapid heartbeat, extreme difficulty resting or concentrating, you probably need to get help.  

If you do not like dealing with the side-effects of prescription drugs, an herbal remedy may be in order.  You should know in advance, however, that some herbal remedies carry their own risks and lead to significant side-effects.    

The more you know about herbal remedies, the better consumer you’ll be.  Don’t allow yourself to be a human guinea pig.  

Take herbal medication only after you have thoroughly studied its effects upon the human body.

Camille McClellan, MD, DNM, MBS
Naturopathic practitioner
McClellan Natural Health, Wellness & Nutrition
Free Naturopathic/Homeopathic Consults Available

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