The Importance of Managing your Stress

The Importance of Managing your Stress

Imagine you lived tens of thousands of years ago, at a time when humans were threatened by saber-toothed tigers and hungry wolves. To survive, you had to be able to react instantly, either by fighting or running away.

The human ability to respond to stressful situations evolved from this period with the “fight or flight” response.  Under sudden stress, you get a burst of exceptional strength and endurance, as your body pumps out stress hormones:

  • Your heart speeds up
  • Blood flow to your brain and muscles increases up to 400 percent
  • Your digestion stops (so it doesn't use up energy that's needed elsewhere)
  • Your muscle tension increases
  • You breathe faster, to bring more oxygen to your muscles

Sometimes we can still benefit from this "fight or flight" response as in the case of a mother whose child was pinned under a concrete slab during a tornado. Under stress, she found the strength to lift the huge slab with her bare hands, even though it later took three men to move it.

But much of the time in modern life, the "fight or flight" response doesn’t help. But, those stress hormones still flood your system, preparing you for physical action.  If you are under chronic stress, or even frequent stress, it can harm your physical health.

How Stress Can Hurt Us

It’s been estimated that two-thirds of all visits to physicians are for stress-related problems. Recent evidence indicates that the physical changes associated with stress may contribute to the leading causes of death - heart disease, cancer and stroke.

How does stress affect us?

  • Stress can cause chronic fatigue, digestive upsets, headaches, and back pain.
  • Stress can affect the blood cells that help you fight off infection, so you are more likely to get colds and other diseases.
  • Constant stress can increase blood pressure and can increase the risk for stroke.
  • Stress can increase the danger of heart attacks, particularly if you are often angry and mistrustful.
  • Stress can make an asthma attack worse.
  • Stress triggers behaviors that contribute to death and disability, such as smoking, alcoholism, drug abuse, and overeating.
  • Stress can lead to diminished sexual desire and an inability to achieve orgasm.
  • Stress makes it harder to take other steps to improve health, such as giving up smoking or making changes in diet.

What Are Your Personal Signs Of Stress?

Changes in body functions and physical health.  Are you having these signs or has someone else noticed you having these signs of stress?

Do you get more:                                                
                Backache                                              
                Muscle tension                                    
                Nervous stomach                                
                Breathing problems                            
                Frequent urination                             
                Fatigue                                                  
                Dizziness 

Changes in emotions and feelings
Do you feel more:
                Irritable                                                 
                Sad                                                         
                Worried                                                
                Tense                                                    
                Angry
                                                      
Changes in behavior
Are there changes in how much you: 
                Sleep                                                     
                Eat (too much or too little)             
                Want sex (less or more than before)
                Drink alcohol                                       
                Use drugs
                                             
Changes in how you think
Are you finding it harder to:
                Remember                                           
                Concentrate                                         
                Look on the bright side of things 
      
Do you find yourself feeling:
                Helpless                                                
                Hopeless                                               

Summary:

  • Stress is the emotional and physical strain caused by our response to pressure from the outside world.
  • The mental symptoms of stress include tension, irritability, inability to concentrate, feeling excessively tired, and having trouble sleeping.
  • The physical symptoms of stress include dry mouth, a pounding heart, difficulty breathing, stomach upset, frequent urination, sweating palms, and tense muscles that may cause pain and trembling.
  • The four types of stress signs include changes in body functions and physical health, changes in emotions and feelings, changes in behavior, and changes in thoughts.
  • Stress has been linked to serious diseases such as heart disease and cancer, and to a variety of other physical and emotional disorders.
  • One method of stress management is called the TARP method, which involves noticing early signs of stress, figuring out the causes, dealing with the effects on the body, and developing good stress-reduction techniques.
  • Methods of managing stress include humor, meditation, hobbies, biofeedback, and massage therapy.  The TARP method involves recognizing the early signs of stress, figuring out the causes, dealing with the effects on the body, and developing good stress-reduction techniques, such as regular sessions of massage therapy.
  • Medication can be useful for dealing with short periods of acute stress, but it does not address the underlying problem.

 How Massage Helps:

 Massage is more than feeling good for the moment.  The effects of massage are cumulative – the more often you receive massage, the greater your health benefits.

 Some of the benefits of massage include:

  • Stabilizing your nervous system
  • Decreased pain
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Decreased anxiety and depression
  • Increased energy and endurance
  • Increased strength and resilience
  • Improved functioning of the nervous system
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved posture, range of motion and flexibility
  • Improved dexterity and fine motor skills
  • Improved balance
  • Improved attention span, concentration, memory, creativity and learning efficiency

Name one other activity that costs around $100 and leaves you feeling like A MILLION BUCKS for days!


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