Posted on Feb 20th, 2006

Websters dictionary defines stress as: “a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation”.

It’s important to realize that this “physical, chemical, or emotional” tension is a part of life, and is critical to the workings of the human body.

Stress occurs whenever we encounter something in our lives to which we must react. This may be a small event, like swatting at a fly that has landed on our arm, or something more significant, like dealing with the death of a loved one.

When we run into stress, our body reacts by producing adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones do good things for our body: cortisol by improving our memory, and adrenaline by enhancing our immune system and supplying us with energy. It’s when we allow this stress to remain with us for extended periods of time that bad things begin happening. When cortisone builds up it can actually cause our brain cells to shrink and hinder our short term memory. Unused adrenaline can eventually lower our immune system and cause depression.

The healthy way to deal with stress is to allow it to take its course the way nature intended. The adrenaline that your body produces needs to be used-up, and the best way to do this is by exercising. These hormones are meant to help out with short term situations, so we need to find stress reducing activities to deal with ongoing stress (like work or finances). Some ideal relaxation and stress-reduction activities are yoga, tai-chi, and meditation.

Mark Altman is the webmaster of - free relaxing music and more, a site containing relaxing music, sleep-aids, stress reduction tools, relaxation advice, and an active discussion.

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