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Stress Relief Strategies to Ease Allergy Symptoms

Do daily pressures have your allergy symptoms spiking? Try these simple tips for stress relief.

Managing Stress to Ease Allergy Symptoms

The experts disagree when it comes to managing stress to ease allergy symptoms. Grossan tells WebMD that after weeks of sneezing, the body's immune system is exhausted. "Going to bed and resting can help to restore the body's resistance and is definitely good stress-relief therapy."

Contrary to this opinion, William E. Berger, MD, MBA, professor of medicine at the University of California, tells WebMD that allergies create stress because you cannot focus on tasks and your coping skills decline.

"When people run, they can breathe better because epinephrine pours throughout the body," says Berger, past president of the American College of Allergy and Immunology and author of Allergies and Asthma for Dummies."Epinephrine is also triggered during stressful moments, which should add to better breathing -- not worse!"

That said, no two people respond to stressful events in the same way either. What may be a source of emotional excitement for you may cause fear for a friend. For instance, you may love to skydive on your weekend while your best friend cringes even thinking about flying in an airplane. That's because we all perceive and respond to stressors differently. Again, it's the inappropriate responses that influence your health and may influence your allergy symptoms.

When we're exposed to a stressful situation, our bodies prepare for confrontation. This "fight or flight" response is controlled by our hormones and nervous system and dates back to prehistory, as we prepared to fight or flee our stressor.

Though we may not fight wild animals anymore, there are still "wild animals" facing us daily in the form of arguments, a phone that won't stop ringing, and perpetually full in-boxes. Now when you add miserable allergy symptoms, you've got a recipe for disaster -- unless you take time to do something for stress relief.

Stress Relief Strategies When Allergy Symptoms Escalate

To get back in control when allergy symptoms have you reeling, consider the following stress-relief strategies:

  • Figure out what's adding to your stressful feelings and remove or reduce the source. If your stress is from overwork, learn to delegate, especially during allergy season. If your stress is from overextending yourself, rethink your priorities. 
  • Get plenty of sleep every night, not just on weekends. Getting in bed and resting can restore the body's balance and help the allergic body heal. 
  • Set priorities and budget your time to allow for a little relaxation. Having a more balanced life with moments of R&R each day can help you deal with allergy symptoms more effectively. 
  • Exercise daily. Even if you only have time to take a walk, exercise helps reduce stress hormones that may cause you to feel keyed up.  And remember, exercise produces epinephrine, which acts as a natural decongestant, helping you breathe better. 
  • Learn to meditate. Twenty minutes of meditation once or twice daily can help you reduce stress and feel more relaxed. 
  • Keep taking your allergy medications. While that may not sound like a stress-relief strategy, it might surprise you. Stress may cause anxiety and depression, says Marshall, and depressed individuals are less compliant with their medications. So stay on track!
Reviewed on January 08, 2008

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