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Stress? What stress? Run it off, cry it out, sleep it away

Stress? What stress? Run it off, cry it out, sleep it away

There are so many ways to relax over the holidays it's surprising there's any stress at all. OK, maybe that's an overstatement.
And we can see it's stressing you out.
So read on.
"Different people swear by different things," says Kathryn Bishopric, a registered nurse working with the program. We talked to Bishopric and to Dr. Miguel Almunia, a psychiatrist consulting with it, about methods of stress relief and how they work:
n Exercise: It helps the body process and excrete adrenaline and cortisol, two chemicals the adrenal gland creates when the body is under stress. And it stimulates the pituitary gland and hypothalamus to create those feel-good peptides we fondly call endorphins. Endorphins reduce pain and induce a sense of well-being.
n Distraction: See a movie. Go fishing. Stop and smell the roses. Doctors aren't sure what goes on chemically, but PET scans can measure how it moves your brain waves into the relaxed alpha state. You're wide awake, but no longer hyper-alert, no longer obsessing about the problem at hand. Computer fans call it rebooting the brain.
n Laughter: It's more than distraction; it has an almost instantaneous effect of relaxing the brain that can be measured by EEGs, Bishopric says. "A good laugh literally affects the entire brain; very little else does that," she says.
n Crying: Tears of sadness or frustration contain-and thus excrete-toxic chemicals that do not occur in the tears from, say, chopping an onion, Bishopric says. "Laughing is still better than crying - unless you really need a good cry."
n Sleep: It also reboots the brain. A good eight hours is essential, according to studies comparing the performance of rested people to that of tired people pumped up on coffee. Tired folks have less intellectual ability, more irritability, even depression.
n Diet: Stressed people become hungry for the comfort of high-sugar, high-fat foods. But these burn off quickly - leaving you edgy, irritable and even more stressed. Fight stress with a balanced diet of fruits, veggies and protein. Supplements - especially B vitamins and minerals - can help if you have an incomplete diet. But a good diet is better. Yes, your mother was right.
n Meditation: In "agnostic mindfulness meditation," people are taught not to empty their minds but to focus them, to pay more attention to the task at hand.
n Yoga, tai chi: These combine meditation and exercise plus another crucial factor - social support. Some say we have three families - a family of origin (parents, siblings), a family of nurture (spouse and kids) and a family of choice (yoga class). The latter is made up of people who are unrelated but those we like to be with. An American Psychological Association study said people with the most supportive relationships rebounded best from the traumatic stress of 9-11.
n Wine: "In measure, it can help you relax and enjoy the holidays, but it's not recommended as a medication," Almunia says. Chemically, it's a depressant. It will sedate you and later have a rebound stimulant effect. So it'll put you to sleep, wake you an hour later. Use with care.
n Herbal teas: A nice brew of ginseng can relax you, Almunia says. "I do believe they have a calming effect; it's been documented through the ages."


Updated : 2021-03-01 07:01 GMT+08:00