Take steps to control your stress.
Your body’s stress reaction was meant to protect you.
But when it’s constantly on alert, your health can pay the price.
Even the Mayo Clinic has jumped on the stress band wagon! Researchers there agree that when the stressors of your life are always present, you may be left constantly feeling stressed, tense, nervous or on edge. “Fight or flight” was never designed to be used more than a couple times per month!
But when activated over long stretches this defense system eventually turns on its owner (you!) and begins to ravage the body and mind by altering immune system responses and slowing digestion, reproduction and growth. Is it any wonder that Americans today have fertility issues, eat Tums by the truckload?
On top of that – this complex natural alarm system also communicates with regions of your brain that control mood, motivation and fear… relating directly to the rampant use of two classes of ‘wonder drugs’. The first is designed to either reduce anxiety or promote sleep (nerve system suppressors). The second opposes the first and is manufactured to wake up the nervous system and get it into high gear. You can readily see that it doesn’t take long before a tug of war breaks out between drugs that stimulate and those that relax the system that controls the function of each and every one of the trillions of cells in a single person.
When the natural stress response goes haywire
The long-term activation of the stress-response system — and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones — can disrupt almost all your body’s processes. This puts you at increased risk of numerous health problems, including:
- Heart disease
- Sleep problems
- Digestive problems
- Memory impairment
- Worsening of skin conditions, such as eczema
That’s why it’s so important to learn healthy ways to cope with the stressors in your life.
Learning to react to life stressors in a healthy way
Stressful events are a fact of life. And you may not be able to change your current situation. But you can take steps to manage the impact these events have on you. You can learn to identify what stresses you out, how to take control of some stress-inducing circumstances, and how to take care of yourself physically and emotionally in the face of stressful situations.
Stress management strategies include:
- Eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise and plenty of sleep
- Practicing relaxation techniques (5-sensing, mental imagery and neuro-chiropractic care)
- Training the brain to relax using Zen Frames and biofeedback (used at Thrive Lancaster)
- Fostering healthy friendships
- Having a sense of humor
- Seeking professional coaching for emotional detoxification
The payoff of managing stress is peace of mind and — perhaps — a longer, healthier life.
Dr. Doug Meints
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER).