I look back in awe at the simplicity of my youth in rural Ireland. I knew every inch of the landscape of my neighborhood—every rock, tree and flower. I knew, almost to the day, when the cuckoo was due back from its migratory stay in warmer climes and when the first daffodils of springtime would grace us with their beauty.

Within this familiar world, we took long family walks every Sunday and picnicked by a lake or a river. We were one of the only families in the neighborhood who had a phone—it rang on average once a week. The children entertained visitors by singing, dancing or reciting poetry. We had our stress factors, I'm sure, but looking back, it's a little difficult for me to imagine what they would be. Life seemed so much simpler, freer and connected to things that nourished the body and the soul.

These days, if we're not tweeting or connecting with people around the globe on Facebook, email or mobile phone, we're simply out of touch. We're constantly bombarded with information, and it's coming at us with such great speed that it's honestly hard to keep up!

Stress is commonplace, and whether we're aware of it or not, most of us are affected. Believe me, as a world traveler, I have great appreciation for the advances in technology that allow me to keep in touch with friends around the globe or to lie on a beautiful tropical beach and write about stress. However, I do feel that balance is vital and it's too easy these days to get so caught up in our Googling and Skyping that we forget to take a deep breath once in a while.

Apart from making us feel so darn uncomfortable, stress—both minor and chronic—is also at the root of many health problems. We have our normal stresses, like the nervousness we might feel before a first date, important meeting or exam. These are part of life and not a major threat to health or well-being. On the other hand, we have what might be termed as distress, which is our bodies' reaction to pressure or demand. It can manifest physically, mentally and emotionally, and at its extreme can be incapacitating.

I'd like to offer you some simple guidelines, which from my own personal experience have worked to alleviate or treat stress.

Learn how certain foods can help you alleviate or avoid stress.


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