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Stress: A Silent Killer

Apr 4, 2016

Stress affects everyone at some point; we all get stressed out. Short-term stress can be a good thing, because it can encourage you to act on a task quickly. It can also help you avoid danger. However, long-lasting stress can wear you down and cause physical, mental, cognitive and behavioral problems!
 

Physical Symptoms

A partial list includes:
• Heart rate rises
• Breathing becomes more rapid
• Blood pressure rises
• Muscles tighten and body starts to ache
• Sleep problems develop
• Vague symptoms, which may be similar to other illnesses
• Variety of digestive problems, such as diarrhea, constipation, gastritis, nausea and more
• Headaches
• More frequent infections and colds, being sick a lot lately
• Clenched jaw, dry mouth, tooth grinding
 

Mental or Emotional Symptoms

• Feeling of being overwhelmed and out of control
• Trouble relaxing and losing peace of mind
• Feeling frustrated
• Easily agitated
• Moody
• Feelings of worthlessness, low self-esteem. Loneliness, depressed, pessimistic
• Inability to focus
• Disorganized
• Forgetful
• Racing thoughts
• Poor judgment
 

Behavioral Symptoms

• Excessive use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco
• Change in eating habits – either overeating or not eating enough
• Nail biting, fidgeting or pacing
• Poor self-care habits, such as skipping exercise and poor hygiene
• Loss of enthusiasm or energy
 
The above symptoms can vary for each individual, but if we can all agree on anything, is that in today’s world we need to manage our stress levels better.
 
Some people have a better handle on stress, while others are crippled by it. The amount of stress that you can handle depends on:
• your general health
• how strong of a support system you have
• the amount of responsibilities you can handle
• traumatic events that may have happened, and other factors
 

Excellent Remedies for Stress

• Exercise is the most recognized remedy. It fires up the “feel-good” endorphins which elevate mood, produce energy and help focus the mind
• Go outside, get some fresh air and soak up the sunshine
• Deep breathing lowers cortisol, the stress hormone, and may lower blood pressure
• A nice, warm bath lowers cortisol
• Massages, especially Swedish massages release more good chemicals. A foot massage and having the toes massaged does the same
• A sauna relaxes the muscles and helps anxiety
• Hugs and kisses given and received boosts the happy chemicals
• Meditation and being in the moment can help focus the mind and ease tension
• Sharing feelings with family and trusted friends is an outlet
• Pets are great stress-busters
 
There are also other natural ways to help relieve tension.
For example,
• Listening to your favorite music
• Doing Yoga
• Meditating or getting involved in spirituality
• Doing something for others
• Even chewing gum (just don’t chew gum on an empty stomach!)
 
Choose one exercise or practice that helps you manage your stress level and do it everyday. Don’t let stress take over your life. Small lifestyle changes can make a big difference.
 
When in doubt, please talk to a doctor or mental health professional.