Sunday, February 28, 2010

And you thought you were de-stressing.

Here is a list of things people commonly turn too to de-stress but actually amp up the stress levels, according to a study published by a University of Ottawa student. Whole article found here.

  • Cigarettes can actually heighten your stress level. When you smoke, the chemicals that you inhale act as stimulants for your body. Your heart rate, blood pressure, and hormone levels increase. Cigarettes also rob the body of certain vitamins and minerals, which must be replaced. The cost of cigarettes and the diseases which they can cause might also add to your level of stress. Although trying to quit smoking can be stressful in itself, it can often result in an overall reduction in stress levels in the long run.

  • Caffeine is another physical stressor that can be very damaging, especially if it is consumed in large quantities. Caffeine can speed up your system for up to 20 hours. Although it might relieve headaches in some people, it can cause them in others. It can also cause sleeplessness and stomach upsets. Caffeine is a drug, and you can become addicted to it. Withdrawal symptoms include headaches, nervousness, grouchiness, and a rapid heartbeat.

  • Sugar is used in many foods, and in small quantities it can be harmless. Often, however, it is easy to lose track of your sugar intake. Whether you use white/brown sugar, honey, or fructose, you will experience a quick energy boost, which will later be replaced by a shortage of energy, since it depresses your system. Eating sugary foods leaves you less hungry for more nutritious ones, and you end up missing valuable vitamins and minerals. A lack of some B vitamins has been linked to depression as well as other mood disorders.

  • Drugs and alcohol are also stress enhancers. You might think that turning to these substances will relieve your stresses and problems, but you must understand that drugs and alcohol are poisonous to your system, eventually causing serious mental and physical damage. Over a period of time (which is quite short in some cases), addiction develops and you can end up spending all of your energies just trying to get more of the drug of your choice. In the end, you will have even greater amounts of stress in your life as a result of losing friends and causing pain for your family.

  • You might also think that using tranquilizer-type drugs will help you to calm down and relax, but the effects of these drugs are short-lived and they never solve the underlying causes of stress. A physician might prescribe them for a short-term problem, but you must take them as prescribed and never use a higher dosage than that recommended. In the end, it is better to discover the sources of your stress (possibly with the help of a counsellor) and find more natural and permanent "tranquilizers"
Take a ride on your boat instead. It will help you to take a  moment for yourself, and it won't put a dent in your wallet.


Brett said...

To relieve stress I often will play the guitar. Nothing like playing a tune to take your mind off the stress.
Also, I find any physical activity helps me de-stress. Whether it is hockey, rugby or just taking a run, I just need to take my mind off the stressful situation.

chrissyelizabeth said...

I think it is safe to say I am addicted to coffee. I had a horrible headache Friday afternoon, and a coffee seemed to help :) I probably should start limiting myself to 1 cup a day, but I always need 2 cups ahaha. This post was really insightful though :)

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