Although stress is frequently considered a normal side effect of today's busy world, we know it can ruin a good mood or a good day; but what is becoming a great concern is the fact that it may also be ruining your health.
There are many different sources of stress. In the workplace, layoffs, cutbacks and bankruptcies create tension and stress that grow as employees are demanding more results from less people in less time. At home, kids, spouse and career may make conflicting demands on our time, causing further stress and increasing danger of contracting stress related illnesses.
Stress can trigger heart disease, one of this country's leading causes of death. Stress elevates BP. And prolonged stress keeps the body in a constant state of tension and excitement, forcing the heart to work harder.
There is also growing evidence that stress interferes with immune system functioning. When the body is under stress, its supply of natural killer (nk) cells is reduced. Since the cells are an important part of the bodies defense against infection, the fewer of them you have, the greater your chances of becoming ill.
It shouldn't surprise us that stress related illnesses often follow dramatic events such as a divorce or job loss. What may be surprising is that positive events can also contribute to illness. Drs. Thomas Homes and Richard Rahe theorized that it is the amount of change required by an event rather than the change itself that causes ill health. They develop the scale of 43 stressful life events, both "positive" and "negative" that they used to predict illness and people.
Marriage, retirement, and promotions or other outstanding career achievements are among the top 25 illness producing stress source. Even though they are happy events, they require a lot of change in that the client, which produces stress and eventually may cause and stress- related illness.
You can reduce the chances of stress harming your health by paying attention to physical warning signals, such as:
- Extreme or chronic fatigue.
- Constant tension headaches.
- Frequent colds or infections.
- Persistent stomach trouble.
- Reoccuring skin problems.
- Repeated minor accidents (see stress can lower concentration and disrupt attention. Research shows clear links between stress and increased physical injuries).
You can also help avoid illness by changing your point of view. Unhealthy thinking patterns create or increase illness-producing stress. Dr. Sam Klarreich suggests protecting your body by replacing old attitudes with healthier ways of thinking like these...
Mistakes are O.K. viewing mistakes as learning experiences rather than failures reduces the amount of stress they cause us.
Approval comes from within. Letting other people judge your worth and performance is stressful. It's your opinion of yourself that truly counts.
Perfect does not equal happy. Everything doesn't come at once. Concentrate on what you have rather than what's not there.
Change can be good. Focus on the opportunities that change brings instead of the disruption in causes.
Stress and kids and health
Adults may think childhood is a carefree time, but the children know differently. Broken homes; earlier, more frequent testing in school; and parental pressure for good grades or sports success all create increased stress for kids. Left untreated, childhood stress can cause future heart problems, obesity or emotional illness.
To help their children manage stress, parents must learn to recognize the early warning signs of childhood stress, such as:
- Frequent stomachaches or headaches.
- Insomnia over sleeping.
- Constant worries or fear about school.
If you notice the symptoms in your child, take time to find out what the root of the problem is. Gentle questioning about school or friends may help your child talk about the stress in his or her life.
Protecting your health
Although we can't eliminate stress from our lives, it is possible to reduce or control it. Self-awareness and behavior changes can help protect her body from stress induced illnesses.
The body that is weakened by poor diet, not enough rest in little exercise is especially of honorable stress. Strengthen your body with good nutrition, regular exercise and sufficient sleep.
Over commitment of your time and energy is stressful. It may be difficult at first, the saying no, at home or at work, is sometimes necessary to protect her health. Unexpected changes are a fact of life, but many are within your control. To reduce the chance of illness, don't plan major life events such as a new job, Marriage and relocation all the same time.
It's O. K. to feel angry or upset under stress. Bottling up your feelings, denying or feeling guilty about them only increase stress. Except her feelings, then focus on the source.
Remember your sense of humor. Exaggeration can make your fears so absurd they're laughable!
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