Why do we worry and stress ourselves out so much? Well, in a nutshell we live in stressful times. The economy is stagnant, house prices are declining, the price of food, clothing, utilities, and fuel are rising quicker than a loaf of bread, and there’s the constant threat of losing one’s job and not being able to find another one. We fret about what we have or don’t have, how we look, our weight, our clothes, our hairstyles, the mortgage or rent payment, and the bills. We’re constantly rushing around, and never seem to stop and ‘smell the roses’. Wow, it’s no wonder we’re stressed out!

We worry about the past, the present, and the future—and what’s the point. We can’t change the past. What’s done is done, and the present and future are what we make of them. We can choose to look and react negatively at things, or decide to look and react positively at things, creating a happier today and tomorrow. The choice is ours.

What exactly is stress, and what can we do to get stress under control rather than let stress control us?

According to Wikipedia, “Stress is a term in psychology and biology. It refers to the consequence of the failure of an organism – human or animal – to respond adequately to mental, emotional or physical demands, whether actual or imagined. Acute stressors affect an organism in the short term; chronic stressors over the longer term.”

Stress occurs when we expericence change to our normal physiology brought on by stressors. Stressors can cover a wide range of situations. Anything from a sudden traumatic experience or a perceived threat, to smaller ongoing pressures that seem uncontrollable, stressors can wreak havoc on our lives and our health.

Our body responds to stressors by activating the nervous system and specific hormones. When we experience a stressful situation, the adrenal glands (located just above the kidneys) release cortisol and adrenaline, preparing our body for a fight-or-flight reaction. This is how our body reacts to a shock or perceived threat. Our muscles tighten, our blood pressure rises, our breath quickens, we become anxious, and even aggressive (such as in the case of road rage). The involuntary fight-or-flight response is our body’s way of protecting us against real danger and physical threats.

Small doses of stress in our life can be useful. If we have a deadline to meet, a presentation to make, or a game to win, stress can give us the edge to get the job done. Beyond a certain point though, stress can seriously affect our health. Long-term and chronic stress can affect practically every system in our body and lead to serious health problems. It can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, suppress our immune system, and speed up the aging process. It can also lead to anxiety and depression. Excessive stress over a long period of time can affect the adrenal glands’ ability to produce hormones properly, leading to adrenal fatigue and making us feel ‘burnt out’.

So what can we do to help cope with stress, or better yet avoid it in the first place? There are many helpful steps we can take, and choices we can make, to reduce stress or help manage the stress in our lives.

Exercise – regular exercise helps to decrease the production of stress hormones. Studies are showing that exercise can help combat anxiety and depression, and help with sleep. Walking, running, dancing, biking, hiking, swimming, gardening and yard work can all have a significant effect on decreasing stress levels. Pick an activity that you love and have fun doing it.

Massage – getting a massage is not only a great way to pamper ourselves, but can also help to decrease the stress hormone cortisol in our body.

Deep Breathing – can help calm the nerves. Relax in a comfy chair and take a few deep breaths to help clear the mind. Deep breathing also works well in any stressful situation.

Meditation and Relaxation Techniques – are known to have lasting and beneficial effects on health, as does yoga.

Take Time to Unwind – one of the key elements in reducing stress is taking the time for ourselves. Read a good book, watch a movie, take time for a hobby, or have a nice relaxing soak in the bathtub. Say ‘yes’ to yourself.

Rest – getting enough sleep helps our body and mind rejuvenate and better equips us to handle any negative stressors that may come along. Seven to eight hours of uninterrupted rest is the required amount of sleep for most adults.

Diet – under stressful conditions our body needs healthful foods full of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Junk foods, fast foods and highly processed foods are all stressors that can add to stress levels. A healthy diet that includes fresh colorful vegetables and fruits, rich whole grains, unprocessed oils and fats, lean meats such as poultry, fish, dry beans, free-run eggs, and nuts, organic-low-fat dairy products, and clean water will provide most of the nutrition our body needs to help combat the effects of stress.

Laughter – learn to laugh at stressful situations that may arise. A healthy dose of optimism can quickly turn a stressful circumstance into an opportunity for the better. Sometimes, laughter really is the best medicine.

Nature has also provided us with many botanicals that can help strengthen our ability to cope with stress. There are a variety of botanicals that work well to combat stress. What I like to take when I’m feeling stressed out, anxious, or need help sleeping is AIM Composure®.

AIM Composure® is a combination of three soothing herbs – valerian root, passionflower and hops flower. These three herbs work synergistically to provide a safe and effective way to help relax and calm nerves and muscles, alleviate feelings of anxiety, reduce restlessness, and promote restful sleep. All three of the botanicals in AIM Composure® have been approved in the Natural Health Product Directorate Monographs from Health Canada, and AIM Composure® has been issued a Natural Product Number (NPN). (An NPN indicates Health Canada has assessed the product for its safety, claim, and quality, and has authorized it for sale in Canada.)

By becoming aware of how stress impacts our lives and our health, and by learning to accept change and everyday challenges as a normal part of life, we can reduce and manage stress, learn to cope, and maybe even eliminate it from our lives altogether. We’re meant to live a happy, fun and enjoyable life so the next time stress comes knocking at the door, take a deep breath, relax, smile, and sing a few bars from that cute little song that came out in the late eighties by Bobby McFerrin. You know the one…. Don’t Worry, Be Happy! And if you need a little extra help, try some Composure.

The mind is an extremely powerful tool that can either drive us to the depths of despair or motivate us to reach for the stars. ~ Psychiatrist Adam Stein

For more information about AIM Composure®, please visit our website at www.followthegreen.com where you can read more, download datasheets and watch videos. As with any nutritional supplement it is always recommended to read the literature thoroughly to find out if the product is right for you, and consult your health care practitioner if you have any medical conditions or concerns.

Author's Bio: 

A Member of The AIM Companies for over twenty-three years, Joanne Jackson takes pride in sharing her knowledge of nutrition and the AIM products with others. As an advocate of healthy eating and proper nutrition, Joanne understands that the choices we make, and choosing them wisely, is the key to wellness. Joanne holds a certificate in Nutrition: Studies and Applications and a certificate in Natural Health Fundamentals. She is currently studying for her diploma as a Certified Holistic Nutritionist. http://www.followthegreen.com