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Tips On Coping

Robert Annand - 08:24pm Aug 11, 2000 EST

Stress Management :

Stress is defined as a feeling of tension that is both emotional and physical. It can occur in specific situations. Different people perceive different situations as stressful. Stress management refers to the effort to control and reduce the tension that occurs with a situation that is considered difficult or unmanageable.

Stress management involves the effort of a person in making emotional and physical changes. The degree of stress and the desire to make the changes will determine the level of change that will take place.

Attitude: The attitude of an individual can influence whether a situation or emotion is stressful or not. A person with a negative attitude will often perceive many situations as being stressful. Negative attitude is a predictor of stress, because this type of person responds with more stress than a person with a more positive attitude.

Physical well-being: If the nutritional status of the person is poor, the body is stressed and the person is not able to respond to a stressful situation. As a result, the person can be more susceptible to infections. A poor nutritional state can be related to unhealthy food choices, inadequate food intake, or an erratic eating schedule. A nutritionally unbalanced eating pattern can result in an inadequate intake of nutrients.

Physical activity: Inadequate physical activity can result in a stressful state for the body. Physical activity has many physiologic benefits. A consistent program of physical activity can contribute to a decrease in depression, if it exists. It also improves the feeling of well-being.

Support systems: A minimal or total lack of support systems can be a sign of family problems or of social interaction in general. Social situations can be beyond the coping ability of a stressed person.

Relaxation: When a person has no hobbies or means of relaxation, they may be unable to handle stressful situations because the individual has no outlet for stress.

Positive thinking.

Refocus the negative to be positive.

Talk positively to yourself.

Plan some fun.

Make an effort to stop negative thoughts.

Physical activity:

Start an individualized program of physical activity.

Decide on a specific time, type, frequency, and level of physical activity.


Plan to eat foods for improved health and well-being.

Use the food guide pyramid to help select healthy food choices.

Eat an appropriate amount of food at a reasonable schedule.

Social support:

Make an effort to interact socially with people.

Reach out to individuals.

Nurture yourself and others.


Use relaxation techniques. There are many relaxation techniques (guided imagery, listening to music, etc.); learn about and try different techniques and choose one or two that work for you.

Take time for personal interests and hobbies.

Listen to one's body.

Take a mini retreat.


If stress management does not work at a personal level, there are professional individuals such as licensed social workers and psychologists who can help. Scheduling time with one of these professionals is often helpful in learning stress management strategies, including relaxation techniques. Support groups of various types are also available through the community.


Robert Annand - 03:21pm Aug 12, 2000 EST

Take A Nap

Lisa Lorden When All Else Fails, Take A Nap If you suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia, you've probably experienced those times when you simply "hit a brick wall"—you can't continue with even a seemingly simple task, and your body (or your brain) just gives out. When I have times like those, I'm occasionally too tired to even recognize what the problem is. I feel overwhelmed, uncoordinated, weak, confused, or depressed. Sometimes I just give up and go take a nap. Lo and behold, I almost always arise feeling at least a little rejuvenated and better able to do whatever it was that I couldn't before. Thus, I've developed a personal slogan: "when all else fails, take a nap."Apparently, I'm not the only one who uses napping as a technique for better functioning. Famous nappers include Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Leonardo Da Vinci, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and many others. Brahms napped at the piano while composing his famous lullaby. Winston Churchill reported that he required a daily afternoon nap in order to cope with his wartime responsibilities. Even Jane Brody, health columnist for the New York Times, has said that naps should have "the status of daily exercise." Why, then, is the practice of napping seen by society (at least American society) as merely a symbol of leisure, or even of laziness? Professor William Anthony, author of The Art of Napping, suggests: "Our culture has developed on the mistaken belief that productivity and napping are two different extremes." In fact, sleep deprivation is as American as apple pie. According to the National Sleep Foundation's (NSF) 2000 Omnibus Sleep in America Poll, 67 percent of adults get fewer than the recommended eight hours of sleep each night. Says Darrel Drobnich, director of government affairs at NSF: "We get about 20 percent less sleep than our ancestors did 100 years ago. We just don't put a priority on sleep." In addition to the stigma that may be associated with napping, proponents of good "sleep hygiene" claim that a nap interferes with night-time sleep. But research has shown that people who nap report no greater nocturnal sleep problems than non-nappers. In fact, napping reflects a natural biological rhythm and is a common feature of healthy adult sleep-wake behavior. Professor Anthony also points to research suggesting that napping has a positive effect on both performance and mood. For CFS and FMS sufferers, napping when you need it may be even more essential. With sleep disorders a common problem in these illnesses, a lack of restful sleep or reduced total sleep hours may require your body to make up the difference. CFS specialist Dr. Charles Lapp suggests that people with chronic fatigue syndrome (PWCs) "should strive to go with the flow or accommodate their own body rhythm." There may be periods when PWCs just can't sleep; in such cases it's best to nap and catch up whenever possible. You should experiment with what works best for you. If you feel you need a nap but find that napping makes it harder to fall asleep at night, try limiting daytime sleep to 30-45 minutes or avoiding naps after 2:00pm. Most of all, listen to your body; don't let the misperception that naps are a sign of laziness prevent you from responding to your own needs. Certainly, CFS/FMS sufferers don't need one more thing to feel guilty about. Professor Anthony recommends that people become "proud nappers" in order to change our "nappist society." Says Anthony: "First of all, we need to be vigilant about nappist vocabulary, often used non-too-subtly by napaphobics. Proud nappers must inhibit people from using such phrases as stealing a nap, sneaking a nap, going down for a nap, and caught napping. Nappers have naps. They don't take, steal, or sneak naps. Nappers don't go down for a nap, they prepare for a nap. Nappers are never caught napping, because there is no crime to catch. Nappers are merely seen napping." In fact, there are signs of progress; the NSF survey showed that naps are on the rise. About 10 percent of respondents said they nap before going to work and 35 percent nap afterward. In addition, some companies are waking up to the benefits of the nap; 16 percent of people surveyed said their employers allow naps during the day, and forty-six percent of those allowed to nap at work do so. So next time you feel like you can't go on, consider the potential benefits of a nap. If all else fails, you just might awake ready to begin the day anew. Winston Churchill said: "You must sleep sometime between lunch and dinner, and no halfway measures. Take off your clothes and get into bed. That's what I always do."

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