Name: Nanette Buchanan
Title: Stress a Silent Killer
A visit to the doctor’s office is often prompted by symptoms of illness. A fever, running nose, a rash, aches and pains are all signs that indicate we may need medical attention or an over the counter remedy. Eighty to ninety percent of the doctor’s visits have an underlying link to stress. Stress affects the mind and the body; emotionally and physically stress can drive one to an early grave. There are two types of stress: Eustress which is positive stress and can be healthy and beneficial; and Distress which is negative and can cause physical, emotional and mental illnesses, disease and death.
We can’t always avoid stress and sometimes we don’t want to. The excitement of a new job, the anticipation of attending an event or new school, and opening your own business can heighten the stress level. The results of Eustress often are the same as Distress. The rise in one’s blood pressure, anxiety attacks, increased palpitations of the heart, stomach pains and ulcers as well as a rash, and headache are the symptoms that can bring on many masks. Most of us don’t realize we are stressed until fatigue sets in or our conditions worsen. Eustress is positive and understood. We welcome the rush of excitement it brings on. Even if some of us get overwhelmed, we deal with Eustress differently.
Distress can affect us mentally and physically. It can begin in the mind, worrying day after day with no solution to a problem, questioning the outcome, anticipation and focusing on the negative until we can’t sleep or eat. Our daily functions are not the same. Our temperament changes and the mood swings range from depression to high anxiety. The symptoms are not situational and the conditions seem to link to other physical problems we may have. This type of stress unlike Eustress will linger. Silently diminishing our will to take care of the physical symptoms we settle with the conclusion, “I’m just stressed.” Accepting that excuse, we are accepting a silent death.
Eustress, the happy “high,” usually fades as the memories of the excitement take a rightful place in our mental photo album. We can tap into it at any time and bring to surface the smiles, the pleasure, and the pleasantries that were felt the day of the event. However, Distress rears its ugly head with the discomfort of sickness. As a contributor to high blood pressure, heart problems, poor eating habits, and lack of sleep we find ourselves with more than the problem at hand, and making a doctor’s appointment.
There are many ways to avoid stress after becoming aware of its symptoms:
1. Evaluate your feelings in stressful situations- knowing what brings you stress is important. If last minute preparation annoys you, it may add to your stress level. If you are worrying, identify what it is and work through a solution.
2. Don’t take on more tasks than you can handle
3. Plan your schedule
4. Don’t let the plans of others interfere with your plans
In many cases stress is a spontaneous reaction to an immediate or prolonged problem:
1. Recognize the problem – If it is not yours don’t take in on until you’re ready to
2. Seek a solution you can live with
3. Take a minute to breathe, slow the pace of the moment
4. Don’t make quick decisions – Often a quick decision may handle the immediate problem but will cause complications later
5. Don’t avoid the situation without a definite plan to revisit it and handle it – We often use avoidance as a solution only to find the problem to resurface
Identifying our stressors and handling them helps but often we need to return to a state of mind that will be peaceful; we need to be settled in our comfort zone. Although the problem has been settled or even if we’ve decided to avoid it, the stress still lingers. Relieving stress before, during and after a situation is the key to healthier reactions during stressful situations.
1. Take a moment to be alone – Silence, quiet and peace often relaxes nerves
2. Me time – Spend some time doing and enjoying what pleases you – A book, a treatment at the spa – A mini vacation, a night away from home – A bubble bath, or long shower
3. Soothing foods or drinks – Not an alcohol chaser – A nice glass of wine, hot chocolate, brandy
4. Rest – Sleep reenergizes the mind, body and soul
5. Reading – An escape that doesn’t cost much but gives the mind a chance to move away from the stressor and the problems
6. Exercise – Walking, running, cardio exercises burn calories but also release tension
Holding on to stress can affect your health. Being health conscious should include educating ourselves about the silent killers.
What goes on in your physical body is greatly influenced by the powerful mind-body connection. You can literally worry yourself into an early grave. The actual physical effects of stress on health can be extremely damaging. It is of the utmost importance that you help your body function the way it was meant to.