Browsing through the internet or books will give a multitude of definitions for what stress it. Traffic, deadlines, family and societal demands and other frustrations has exposed all of us to stress. Limited stress occasionally is useful to enable us act in moments of danger and to perform under pressure but many of us find ourselves in a state of almost constant stress and this is killing us silently. 

Whenever we get stressed by anything, our body releases adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones increase our heart rate, raises blood pressure, sharpens our senses and quickens our breath among others. The more our body goes through this, our immune system is suppressed, our risk of developing hypertension, heart disease, digestive problems, sleep disorders increase. We may also develop skin conditions and get depressed. 

Stress is experienced by all people and worrying enough the modern day child goes through so much stress that their risk for developing some disease conditions in the future is increased. Some of the stress factors among children are; waking up early and travelling long distances to and from school. Another stressor for them is the excessive time they spend in school with normal classes, extra classes, private teachers, weekend school etc. 

In managing stress on an individual basis, it is essential we identify the things that stress us and document how we respond to those factors and modify our response accordingly. We should also aim to make time to have adequate sleep especially on weekends. We should also identify factors that relax us (eg reading a book, listening to music, facebooking, a massage, watching a movie, etc) and find the time to pursue it as much as possible. 

Good nutrition is important in several senses. Since regular stress depresses our immune system, we need to eat foods which can boost our immune system. Foods rich in antioxidants are critical here and these are fundamentally our fruits and vegetables. These are rich in Vitamins A, C and E and other antioxidants. 

We also need to make sure that some foods that can increase stress in our bodies are reduced. Caffeine which is prominent in tea, coffee and energy drinks stimulates the body and cause the release of adrenaline and for someone under stress, excessive amounts is not helpful. Alcohol is also another stressor that when abused, increases stress on our body. Apart from alcohol also causing the release of adrenaline, it also limits the ability of the liver to function correctly and detoxify the body. Smokers also claim that smoking reduces their stress but the long-term health effects of smoking makes its disadvantages far far outweigh its perceived benefits. 

Stress kills so let us seek to reduce, eliminate or manage stress as much as possible and if you need specialized help, visit a clinical psychologist. 

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