What we need to know about stress – Are you worried about your stress? You should be. Stress kills! Researchers suggest that as much as 60-90% of illnesses are directly caused by or exacerbated by stress. Stress is related to major illnesses such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. It can also cause back pain, headaches, tooth grinding, upset stomach and digestive problems, sleep loss and exhaustion, skin problems , unhealthy weight gain or loss, and of course, loss of sex drive. These are just the physical symptoms. Stress is linked to depression, anxiety, mood swings, confusion, restlessness, irritability, insecurity, forgetfulness, and a host of other negative mental and behavioural symptoms. We hear about good stress, bad stress. How do we know the difference? How does all of our stress accumulate? Stress is the body’s reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response. The body reacts to these changes with physical, mental, and emotional responses. What’s it doing to us?
With stress so clearly linked to our health, it is shocking to me that we don’t think about our own level of stress and do something about lowering it. Oh yes, we say “I am so stressed” but do we really know what that means? The things that cause stress are called stressors. Do we know our own stressors? Are we aware of the feeling of stress on our own bodies? Have you ever felt sick to your stomach during a test? Have you had days when you were so loaded down with homework that you had trouble sleeping? Have you ever been so worried about something that you ended up with a terrible headache? If so, then you know what it’s like to feel stress.
Stress is often worn as a badge of accomplishment in our society. It’s not enough that we compete to see who can do the most, but we compete to see who can handle the most stress doing it. With such an unhealthy attitude towards stress, it’s no wonder that stress-related illnesses are so common.
Canadian Mental Health Association slogan in 2009 was, “Now more than ever, invest in yourself” The number of Canadians reporting stress has increased by 30 per cent since last year, the Canadian Mental Health Association reported at the start of its 58th annual national mental health week in 2009. Recent studies show that it does not seem to be getting any better now in 2013.The economy is down, jobs are being lost, flu season is here and it’s cold outside
Stress is eating at me every minute and second of the day, how do I cope with the horrible effects and make it go away?
I feel so tired and run down and I don’t sleep, I lie in bed at night and wonder why it runs so deep.
Everyone asks why do you look so sad, do I tell them that my stress is eating me up and that I feel really bad?
Does everyone notice how I walk around in a daze, and that I have deep black bags under my eyes nowadays.
I wake up every morning feeling so hopeless, like nothing ever goes right and wondering why my life has to be such a mess.
Stress is my one worst enemy, it’s taken over my mind and my whole life in every single degree.
Source: Stress Effects Life, Poem about Sadness
All too often people feel what this poem is all about. I, as a health care professional, have witnessed the horrible effects of stress during my 30 plus years in hospitals and homecare. Over the next several weeks I will attempt to cover topics from the long list of stress related illnesses in an attempt to understand them more. Send me your stories, thoughts or comments. Maybe together we can fight this thing called STRESS!
© Jody Mark
Comments, ideas, suggestions are welcome.
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