Do you have stress in your life? Most of us do. Especially Type A's: multitasking, fast-talking, over-committed, always in a hurry, adrenaline junkies. You know who you are. Type A's create stress for ourselves and sometimes for others.
Have you ever awakened late the morning of a big meeting, and in a panic, thrown on your makeup and clothes, sped to work, fought traffic, whipped into Starbucks for your coffee fix, spilled your coffee on yourself, and arrived late for the meeting only to discover that you are making the presentation? Talk about stressful, or is it?
Stress is largely within our control. It's really the symptom, not the disease. It is the product of a number of factors¡Xlack of sleep, improper diet, insufficient exercise, or others¡Xmaking it difficult for us to deal with the curves life throws us.
Sleep deprivation can impair our ability to deal with stress, and even exacerbate the smallest stressors.
What we eat can also be a major factor in how well we deal with stress. Brain chemicals, called neurotransmitters (i.e., adrenaline and seratonin), control brain function. Since they're made from the foods we eat, a poor diet impairs the body's ability to make these chemicals. Our bodies need proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables, and grains. Vitamins B and C and magnesium are especially important in helping the body handle stress.
If you're feeling stressed, check whether you're eating properly. Are you living on high-fat and high-sugar junk and fast foods? Are you overdoing caffeine (coffee, tea, sodas, and chocolate)? Overloading the body with fats, refined sugars, and caffeine can throw it out of balance.
Diet is especially important for Type A adrenaline junkies. High protein and caffeine-laden foods increase adrenaline, shoving the body into overdrive. Those who consistently use adrenaline at work keep their bodies in perpetual "fight or flight" mode, causing fat and sugar junk food cravings to build stores for the next emergency. Adrenaline also supercharges the heart which is why we're starting to correlate high stress with heart disease. Pouring more and more adrenaline into an already overstressed body is like pouring gasoline onto a fire and in extreme cases can lead to fear, anxiety, and paranoia.
The fight or flight response, which originally helped cavemen flee danger, causes the body to release cortisol, the stress hormone, to shut down systems not needed for flight, such as the immune and digestive systems. No wonder we get sick or have indigestion when under heavy stress! The more stress, the more cortisol builds up, making you even more cranky and stressed. Even skipping breakfast can cause the body to release cortisol.
Keeping the adrenaline system in overdrive also lowers the body's serotonin, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel good. By depressing serotonin levels, you may be at risk for anxiety and depression. Getting enough sleep, a minimum of 6 hours per night, rebuilds serotonin, as does eating turkey, bananas, walnuts, avocados, and tomatoes.
When you're under stress, a diet of vegetables and high-quality, low-fat protein, such as fish or chicken instead of red meat, dairy, or caffeine, can optimize the body to withstand stress. Everyone's body is different, so your nutritional needs may vary; your doctor can advise you on the right diet for you.
If you feel stressed, take a moment to examine why and to identify what you can do immediately about it. Be sure you are eating properly and getting enough rest. Sometimes, simply changing your perception can help. Even negative stress, such as health issues or job loss, can be perceived positively as we figure out how to make the best of them. It's not about what happens to you, it's what you do about it.
Mellanie True Hills, the Health & Productivity Revitalizer„µ, is a women's health expert who speaks and coaches individuals and organizations in creating healthy productivity. She is the author of A Woman's Guide to Saving Her Own Life: The HEART Program for Health and Longevity and the CEO of the American Foundation for Women's Health and the Atrial Fibrillation Patient Resource, Find out more at and

Copyright 㦠2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 by Mellanie True Hills. All rights reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Having had a brush with death in emergency heart surgery, Mellanie True Hills now uses her second chance to coach individuals in creating healthy lifestyles and organizations in creating healthy, productive workplaces.
As the founder and CEO of the American Foundation for Women¡¦s Health, a non-profit organization dedicated to education and awareness about women¡¦s health issues, Hills¡¦ mission is to spread awareness of heart disease. An expert on women's health, she frequently speaks for corporations, associations and at women's health events, motivating and inspiring people to greater productivity and health. Executives say that she delivers business results. Audiences say ¡§She saved my life.¡¨
Previously, Hills was an Internet pioneer at J.C. Penney Company, Inc., over a decade ago, where she led the creation of one of the early corporate web sites, as well as an intranet and supplier extranet. She was also an executive and Internet strategist at Dell and Cisco Systems.
A renowned Internet visionary, she is the author of two intranet and groupware best-sellers, Intranet Business Strategies and Intranet as Groupware, published by John Wiley & Sons. She wrote for numerous business and technology publications, including a regular syndicated column for the Dallas Business Journal and other city business journals.
In addition to being a wife and mother, Hills is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Heart Association for Williamson County, Texas and handles media appearances on their behalf to raise awareness of heart disease and stroke.
She is also treasurer of the board of directors of the Leadership Texas Alumnae Association, a member of Women in Technology International (WITI), the National Speakers Association (NSA), and Mended Hearts.