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Simple stress fixes can make you healthier

September 30, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Many people experience detrimental health effects from excessive stress in their lives but there are simple remedies that can help alleviate stress and make you healthier.A few surprising signs of stress, like headaches on the weekend, can be dangerous. A drop in stress on your days off can trigger migraines. To minimize your risk, experts suggest maintaining your weekday sleep and eating patterns on the weekend.

Another stressful symptom can be caused by grinding your teeth.

"For those who are grinding their teeth at night, you are going to have some physical manifestations - a lot of jaw pain," said Dr. Anthony Cardillo at Glendale Adventist Medical Center.

"TMJ gets affected because you're clamping down all throughout the evening. You have muscle aches as well, and then of course the wearing down of the teeth and the dentition."

Studies show wearing a mouth guard at night can help cut grinding your teeth by 70 percent.

Bleeding gums can also be a signal of stress as the tension weakens your immune system. That can lead to bacteria growth in your mouth and cause gum irritation. Besides regular brushing, an antibacterial rinse afterward can help as well.

Another surprising sign of stress is short-term memory loss. When you're under pressure you release hormones that can suppress short-term memory.

Fortunately such effects are usually just temporary. But chronic stress can have longer lasting effects on the nerve cells in your brain.

Finally, too much stress can cause poor sleep and weird dreams. Dreams typically get more positive as you sleep, but when you're stressed out, you wake up more often which can mean less pleasant dreams. Avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime and aim for seven to eight hours of rest a night.

If you need some simple ways to de-stress, one quick fix is to sniff a lemon. Japanese research found that exposure to linalool, a substance found in lemons, reduced levels of inflammatory chemicals in the blood. Inhaling scents like basil and lavender were also shown to lower stress activity in the body.

And one last way to bring about some quick calm - hit the acupressure point on the fleshy area between your thumb and index finger for 20 to 30 seconds. According to researchers at Hong Kong Polytechnic University that simple action can reduce anxiety up to 39 percent.

But if stress is becoming a pattern, a therapist can help you figure out why certain things keep triggering a response so you can stop stress where it starts.

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