Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Quelling Stress & Anxiety Attacks

Three years ago, the American Psychological Association (APA) conducted a survey about stress, and found that 1/3 of all Americans reported feeling "extreme" levels of stress, with 1/5 of Americans experiencing this stress 15 days or more a month.

As of 2010, more than 75% of Americans are suffering with some form of stress-related condition, which may manifest as anything from slowly increasing blood pressure, or irrational emotional agitation to a full blown stress attack that makes life unbearable. Add to this the fact that 121 million people worldwide suffer from depression, and that anxiety frequently co-occurs with both stress and depression, and the epidemic of stress in America becomes clear.

Many Houston-area doctors and psychiatrists recommend courses of drug treatments or cognitive therapy to cope with these stress or anxiety attacks, and in some cases, these can be beneficial tools for healthy living. From a whole-health wellness perspective, however, there a number of non-medical techniques that can be employed in order to reduce stress and anxiety attacks.

First, consider your diet. The way in which Americans consume foods, and the types that they eat, has changed significantly in the last century. Often lacking in a typical American diet can be essential vitamins, especially those of the "B" complex. A lack of vitamin B1 can produce symptoms such as aggressiveness and agitation, while using a supplement of B3 can have a calming effect. Just remember to consult your doctor before considering “alternative” uses of supplements for medical conditions.

Another area to review would be your levels of exercise. Exercising can reduce the level of so-called "stress hormones" such as cortisol, and increase endorphin levels in the body, leading to a "natural high". However, too much of a good thing can also be bad. So use common sense and moderation when choosing your form of exercise.

While physical exercise is beneficial – it is still a “stressor” to the body. Attempting to do too much at once will result in more stress than was originally present, and may make attacks worse. For help in determining your optimum level of exercise and formulating a program the best suits your needs, consider hiring a professional personal trainer, wellness coach or massage therapist. These professionals can identify and address the habits that lead to stress, and help you change them gradually over time.

And always remember: Wellness is not a luxury, it's a neccesity.

Live Life Well,
John Aaron


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