Friday, December 31, 2010

How stress affects your health

Mental Health: Stress and WorkImage by xeeliz via Flickr
High blood pressure, heart disease, chest pain, allergies, insomnia, eczema, overeating, anxiety and nervousness.  What do all these ailments have in common? Stress.  And the numbers of those afflicted with these diseases continues to grow. What with the dizzying pace of life that we pursue, it's not surprising.
Let's evaluate some of the latest findings related to the damage that stress causes.

Stress and your body

Stress can be manifested through various complex ways.  For example, let's look at mechanics of anxiety-a form of stress-and high blood pressure.  With the competitive environment at work, blood pressure is easily prone to elevation.  In a stressful situation such as in  a blowup or  argument with a co-worker, stress hormones epinephrine and cortisol are released by the body which causes increased heart rate, constriction of blood vessels and higher blood pressure. Over a period of time,  if it happens often enough, these situations can easily cause  damage to the vital organs.  This is what makes management of stress so important. In addition to the diseases named above, unchecked, stress can also cause and  exacerbate migraines, diabetes, weakened immune response and depression.  Is it any wonder that it is called a killer?

How to manage stress

Rather than risk some of the previously mentioned diseases, it is better to try to manage your responses to stress well before it gets out of hand.  Here are some relaxation techniques that are worthwhile trying to boost our relaxation levels.

1. Exercise is a great stress reliever and  calorie burner.  It also conditions the heart and helps in blood pressure management.
2. Eat healthful.  Avoid alcohol, caffeine and smoking.
3. Find out the cause of the stress.  And, if necessary, seek out counselling or support groups.  Talk out your problems with a close friend.
4. Prayer and positive affirmations are effective means of obtaining relief from problems.  Affirming the positive and minimizing the negative helps put things back in their proper perspective. 
5. Accept the things that you can not change without stressing out about it.  It won't change the situation anyway.

Good health to you.


Dr. Wolever, Ruth, "Does anxiety affect blood pressure?" 

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