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The Benefits of Stress  

Watching the news lately can be stressful. A wave of violence without a useful cause is sweeping the world. The last time I can remember anything similar, according to history I have read, was before and during the "wild, wild west" when we killied whole villages of Indians and they raided and killed white intruders, robbers had a violent and lucrative heydey attacking banks, stagecoaches, trains and more. In much of the world, as in most Muslim countries, and increasingly in India, women take their life in their hands going out and traveling alone, and this was the rule back then too.

Many people avoid watching the news, with violence, hunger and disease headlined. This, they think, avoids stress, and perhaps it does for many. However, is stress altogether a bad thing?

Friedrich Nietzsche wrote:  "That which does not destroy me, makes me stronger." 

I usually go for "When life hands you broken eggs, make an omelet."

One wish many would make, if given a magic lamp, would be for a stress-free life.  Is this a good idea?   Not usually. 

It's a good thing for very small children to have a sense of security.  But kids who are always shielded from pain, discomfort and responsibility will grow up to feel entitled, and are liable to fall apart at the first crisis.  They may have learned neither how to comfort themselves nor how to deal with inevitable grief and problems.

Stress often gives us to added push to correct unpleasant, unhealthy or dangerous behavior or situations.  Complacency is far more dangerous.

Of course, when stress is unproductive, we need to find ways to change or eliminate it; either by stress-relieving means or by altering the source.

We find proof that stress is useful in the plant world.  Many trees, when stressed by insects, produce an unpleasant substance in their leaves.  Some fruit trees bear more abundantly when damaged; fruit growers have been known to hammer nails into mango trunks so they will produce more fruit.

Many fruits and veggies, when grown under stress conditions, produce far more antioxidants and flavonoids.  Perhaps selecting the smoothest, blemish-free fruit or veggie isn't the best choice?

See Jennifer Viegas' article, Stressed fruit may be better for you", which explains this process.  That misshapen spotty fruit may be the best one for you!  In addition her article helps you find which fruits are the most valuable for your health. 

Stress can also be helped by a healthy diet, rich in vitamins and minerals and low in sugars.  Extra B vitamins, for instance, an extra strength one-a-day balanced B.  (If in doubt, check with your doctor.)  Resist the urge to snack and crunch when stressed; this provides only a brief distraction and can make things worse in the long run.   Eat regular meals, exercise, and try to analyze what you can do to make things better in your life.

Above all, have faith. We are a strong nation, and this too will pass.



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