Mental Health

Stress is as much a part of American culture as a cheeseburger and fries … and it can be just as risky to your health.

Even if you aren't facing any major troubles, just going about your daily routine—getting the kids ready for school, driving to the office, trying to hook up phone service, etc.—can expose you to loads of it. At the least, stress is a nuisance and just plain doesn’t feel good. It can manifest in a number of different ways. You may:

# Feel distracted or anxious

# Worry excessively

# Feel nervous

# Be tired or irritable

# Gain weight

That’s right—just being stressed out can cause you to gain weight, according to the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation. “Under stress, people conserve more fat, and we think that may be what’s going on here,” says psychologist and study co-author Tené Lewis of Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago.

The study involved more than 2,000 women from their 40s through menopause, and the researchers asked them about unhappy events in their life over the past year. The results? Even after taking into account other factors that could affect weight gain (exercise habits, diet, smoking, etc.) it was found that the more bad things the women reported, the more weight they gained.

In other words, the greater the stress, the greater the women’s weight. As if that weren’t enough to contend with, stress—especially the chronic kind that lasts for weeks or months at a time—is a leading contributor to disease, presenting more serious symptoms like:

# Depression

# Increased risk of heart disease

# Headaches

# Nausea and vomiting

# Diarrhoea

# Change in appetite

# Digestive problems

# Chest pain or pressure

# Heart racing

# Excessive fatigue

# Restlessness

# Dizziness

# Hyperventilation

Chronic stress wears down the immune system

If stress reaches beyond a manageable point, and you begin to feel that it’s unending, out of your control or causing a change in your very identity, you are likely suffering from chronic stress. According to a study published in the July 2004 issue of the American Psychological Association’s Psychological Bulletin, chronic stress is likely the worst kind of stress.

In the study, researchers confirmed that stress does in fact affect the immune system. Further, while short-term stress, like the kind that occurs when you’re stuck in traffic, “revs up” the immune system to prepare your body for injury or a fight, chronic stress, like that from ongoing relationship problems, puts too much pressure on the immune system and causes it to break down. People who are already sick, and the elderly, are more vulnerable to stress-related changes in the immune system.

So, if your stress in ongoing, your immune system will not function at its optimal level, leaving you vulnerable to a host of diseases.

At the least, stress is a nuisance and just plain doesn’t feel good. It can manifest in a number of different ways. You may:

# Feel distracted or anxious

# Worry excessively

# Feel nervous

# Be tired or irritable

# Gain weight

That’s right—just being stressed out can cause you to gain weight, according to the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation. “Under stress, people conserve more fat, and we think that may be what’s going on here,” says psychologist and study co-author Tené Lewis of Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago.

The study involved more than 2,000 women from their 40s through menopause, and the researchers asked them about unhappy events in their life over the past year. The results? Even after taking into account other factors that could affect weight gain (exercise habits, diet, smoking, etc.) it was found that the more bad things the women reported, the more weight they gained.

In other words, the greater the stress, the greater the women’s weight. As if that weren’t enough to contend with, stress—especially the chronic kind that lasts for weeks or months at a time—is a leading contributor to disease, presenting more serious symptoms like:

# Depression

# Increased risk of heart disease

# Headaches

# Nausea and vomiting

# Diarrhoea

# Change in appetite

# Digestive problems

# Chest pain or pressure

# Heart racing

# Excessive fatigue

# Restlessness

# Dizziness

# Hyperventilation

Chronic stress wears down the immune system

If stress reaches beyond a manageable point, and you begin to feel that it’s unending, out of your control or causing a change in your very identity, you are likely suffering from chronic stress. According to a study published in the July 2004 issue of the American Psychological Association’s Psychological Bulletin, chronic stress is likely the worst kind of stress.

In the study, researchers confirmed that stress does in fact affect the immune system. Further, while short-term stress, like the kind that occurs when you’re stuck in traffic, “revs up” the immune system to prepare your body for injury or a fight, chronic stress, like that from ongoing relationship problems, puts too much pressure on the immune system and causes it to break down. People who are already sick, and the elderly, are more vulnerable to stress-related changes in the immune system.

So, if your stress in ongoing, your immune system will not function at its optimal level, leaving you vulnerable to a host of diseases.

Reducing the effects of stress

Stress develops when the demands in your life exceed your ability to cope with them. It follows, then, that you can manage stress by:

* Changing your environment so that the demands aren’t so high
* Learning how to better cope with the demands in your environment
* Doing both

Here are some helpful techniques:

* Look after your body. To handle stress, your body requires a healthy diet and adequate rest. Exercise also helps, by distracting you from stressful events and releasing your nervous energy.
* Learn to relax. It’s the polar opposite of the stress response. Deep-breathing exercises may put you in a relaxed state. Follow these steps:

1. Inhale through your nose to a count of 10. As you inhale, your upper abdomen should rise — not your chest.
2. Exhale slowly and completely, to a count of 10.
3. Repeat five to 10 times. Try to do this several times every day, even when you’re not feeling stressed.

If you have persistent trouble relaxing, consider taking up meditation or studying yoga or tai chi, Eastern disciplines said to focus your mind, calm your anxieties and release your physical tension. Therapeutic massage may also loosen taut muscles and calm frazzled nerves.

* Shift your outlook. In many cases, simply choosing to look at situations in a more positive way can reduce the amount of stress in your life. Step back from the conflict or worry that’s put you in knots and ask what part of it is troubling you most. Are you afraid of losing face? If so, would it really be that bad? Are you angry or frustrated to the point of losing self-control? If so, is your reaction out of proportion? Take a break, talk to someone close and get a different perspective on your troubles.

* Get help. On your own, you may have limited success trying to change the habitual patterns of thought and behavior that trigger your stress response. Psychiatrists, psychologists and licensed clinical social workers are trained to help you break free of these patterns.

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/yoga/CM00004

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/massage/SA00082

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/meditation/HQ01070

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/tai-chi/SA00087

SOURCE:- mayoclinic.com

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