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Wipeout Stress In Record Time


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Eliminating Unnecessary Stressors

The better you can siphon off stressors, the more likely it is that you will be able to manage the stress in your life. You would think, if you could eliminate all stressors in your life, you would never experience stress and, therefore, never become ill from it. Since that goal is both impossible and undesirable, your attempt at stress management at the top level of the stress model should be to eliminate as many distressors as possible.

Nutrition and Stress

The relationship between nutrition and stress remains unclear. However, we know that certain food substances can produce a stress-like response, that other substances provided by foods can be depleted by stress, and that certain stress-related illnesses can be exacerbated by dietary habits.

In addition to being malnourished, ingesting too much or too little of particular nutrients can lead to illnesses that can cause a great deal of stress. An example is obesity. Although it is desirable to control your body weight, an overemphasis on dieting can itself be unhealthy. Sometimes, for instance, obesity can be in the mind of the beholder. That is, we are bombarded with media images of the ideal body type as being thin with all the curves in just the right places. Consequently, when our bodies do not measure up to this ideal, we become distressed and we vow to put that extra weight off.

If you find you are obsessive about your own weight (although you really need not be), you might want to consult with a counselor at your campus health center or with your personal physician.

Furthermore, certain food substances have particular relationships with stress. For example, a group of food substances can actually produce a stress-like response. These substances are called pseudostressors, or sympathomimetics. That is, they mimic sympathetic nervous system stimulation. Colas, tea, coffee and chocolate that contain caffeine are examples. Nicotine is another.

Sugar is another stress culprit. To break down sugar, the body must use some of its complex vitamins. We now know what that means. This results in a diminished ability to produce adrenal hormones in response to stressors. Sugar ingestion has other stress implications. Ingestion of large amount of sugar in a short time, or missing meals then ingesting sugar, can result in a condition called hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is low blood sugar that is preceded by elevated levels of blood sugar. This condition may be accompanied by symptoms of anxiety, headache, dizziness, trembling, and irritability. Subsequent stressors are likely to provoke an unusually intense stress response.

Another food substance that has a relationship to stress is salt. Some people are genetically susceptible to sodium and will develop high blood pressure when they ingest too much of it. The federal government recommends no more than 5000 milligrams of salt, which translates to 2000 milligrams of sodium per day.

Now that we have an appreciation for the relationship of nutrition to stress, here are ways to manage stress better by reducing stressors in our diet.

  • Eat a balanced diet that includes the amounts recommended in the food pyramid.

  • Limit the amount of saturated fats in your diet and increase the amount of fiber.

  • Add cruciferous vegetables to your diet and limit the alcohol you ingest.

  • Limit the intake of processed flour. However, some experts believe that, if the flour is enriched with vitamins and minerals, it need not be avoided.

  • Be more realistic about your weight. That is, lose weight if you need to, but don’t expect to measure up to the ideal projected by the media.

  • Limit your sodium intake.

Noise and Stress

Anyone who has roomed with a noisy person, worked in a noisy office, or tried to study with a party going on in the next room can attest to the effect of noise on one’s level of stress. Noise can raise blood pressure, increase heart rate, and lead to muscle tension. Noise has been found to be related to job dissatisfaction and to result in irritation and anxiety. Most disturbing is noise that constantly changes in pitch, intensity, or frequency.

Noise is measured in decibels. At 85 decibels, stress responses usually develop, and prolonged exposure to sounds above 90 decibels can result in hearing damage. Of course, depending on one’s level of concentration and the task being performed, even low levels of noise can be bothersome.

In spite of its potential for stress, noise can at times be soothing. In fact, on many stress management audiotapes, you will find noise to help you relax. This is called white noise, and its purpose is to drown out other sounds that may interfere with relaxation. Sounds such as surf rolling onto the shore, birds chirping, or the wind rustling through the leaves can all serve as comforting sounds.

So you can see that noise can be stressful but certain sounds can be relaxing. You can take greater control of your life by limiting disturbing noises and seeking out relaxing sounds. Walk through the woods; recline on a beach. Noise or relaxing sound – it’s up to you.

Hassles, Chronic Stress, and Success

Everyday hassles are daily interactions with the environment that were essentially negative and, because of their chronic nature, could take a significant toll on health. Losing a wallet, smoking too much, and having troublesome neighbors are examples of these hassles. Although the absence of uplifts has not been found to be related to ill health, the presence of hassles has. Hassles have been shown to be predictive of psychological distress and the dynamics of stress and aging.

Success is multifaceted and, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder. What you view as successful, others might not. Some consider themselves successful when they achieve independence and their success charts reflects this viewpoint, with successes such as owning their first car, getting their first job, or moving into their own apartment.

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