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Keep Workplace Stress in Check

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We've all been there--stress-filled days at work, mounting chores at home and endless tasks on our to-do lis.

We've all been there stress-filled days at work, mounting chores at home and endless tasks on our to-do list. But what impact does this have on health?

A national survey conducted in January 2001 revealed that more than half of Canadians have lower energy levels now than they did five years ago. According to 70 percent of those polled, growing pressures on the job and volume of responsibilities both at work and home are taking a toll on health.

Occasional stress causes your central nervous and endocrine system (hormone-regulating organs) to activate the "flight or fight response." However, constant stress overloads the nervous system and adrenal glands, resulting in blood sugar problems, hormonal imbalances, fatigue, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, poor concentration, and salt or sugar cravings. Other signs of stress include lack of motivation to perform simple tasks and slow cognitive function. Fortunately there are measures you can take to reduce your stress load even at work.

Stress First Aid

Nature's garden is helpful when dealing with stress. Revitalize your adrenals with the following herbs:

  • Licorice: improves adrenal function, helps detoxify the liver.
  • Siberian ginseng: well-known adaptogen, increases energy.

  • Astragalus: enhances recovery from chronic stress, boosts energy.

  • Suma: balances blood sugar, improves resistance.

Promote Restful Sleep

  • Kava kava: improves mood, reduces anxiety, muscle tension and promotes sleep.

  • Skullcap: lowers blood pressure and relaxes the central nervous system.

  • Passionflower: sedative effects to reduce sleeplessness.

  • Griffonia: a source of tryptophan, which reduces anxiety, depression and promotes sleep.

  • Hops: a central nervous system tonic best known for its ability to treat insomnia.

  • Lemon balm: ancient treatment for nervousness and sleep disorders.

Boost Immune Function

  • Grapefruit seed extract: a powerful antibacterial/antimicrobial agent.

  • Usnea: has antibacterial properties, especially for respiratory and urinary infections.

  • Pau d'arco bark: offers antibacterial agents for coughs, allergies and infections.

  • Echinacea: an effective agent against bacterial and viral infections.

Our hectic lifestyles are not going to change, so take some time for yourself. Unwind at the end of the day with music or light reading and go to bed early. Eight hours of sleep allows your body the time it needs to recharge.

Office Fitness

Exercise on the job is an amazing solution for stress reduction. Stretch and do shoulder rolls after every hour of intense, concentrated work. Better yet, get outside for a quick 15-minute brisk walk at lunchtime. Breathe deeply and feel your body relax. Some companies offer on-site massage therapy. Another alternative is to trade five-minute neck and shoulder rubs with a coworker. After work, try going for a jog or playing a sport. Aim to do some sort of aerobic activity for a one-half hour two or three times a week.

If you work on a computer or do a lot of reading, you may suffer from eyestrain. Every one to two hours do eye exercises. Look at something outside your window in the distance. Then cup your hands around eyes to create complete darkness. Rest like this for 60 seconds and repeat. This will refresh the retina of your eyes.

Good hydration is also important. I suggest having a pitcher of water at your desk so that you remember to drink it during the day. If you drink coffee or tea, tally up how much caffeine you are consuming in a day. Try and replace some caffeinated products with herbal teas and water. If you still need some caffeine, switch to green tea, which will give you a lift without the jitters and add a disease-prevention element.

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