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Stress and Your Life

Stress is the inability to cope with a perceived (real or imagined) threat to one’s mental, physical, emotional or spiritual wellbeing, resulting in a series of physical responses and changes. Whether the situation is good or bad, our bodies stress response is the same – to instinctively prepare for immediate action by getting ready to attack in defense, or run and escape the threat.

Your Body’s Stress Response

Your response to stress can affect nearly every physical system in your body, so it will be ready to produce energy to move – the fight or flight response. Here are just a few of the body’s reactions to stress:
  • Increased heart rate to pump more blood to the working muscles
  • Increased blood pressure to deliver more blood to working muscles

Stress Linked to Health

According to the National Center for Health Statistics in 2000, research showed human stress between 70 and 80 percent of all disease and illness is stress-related, such as:

  • Breathing increases to supply muscles with oxygenated blood for energy
  • Widening of blood vessels of the arteries, particularly arms and legs
  • Increased blood sugar level for higher metabolism
  • Makes fat stores available as an energy source for prolonged activity
  • Increased muscular strength
  • Decreased blood flow from digestion to allow more blood for working muscles
  • Eye pupils enlarge to take in more light
  • Increased perspiration to cool you down when exerting energy
  • Unfortunately, all these physical responses to stress are quite ineffective when dealing with events that threaten your ego, finances or emotional wellbeing. As a result, what was designed as a means of survival is now linked with the development of disease and illness claiming the lives of millions of people.

    Keys to Managing Stress

  • Identify the stressors in your life – the situations and things that cause you to get off-balance.
  • Learn to recognize and understand your body’s reaction to perceived stress. Then you’ll be ready to determine what course of action to take.
  • Learn and practice various stress management strategies, so you can successfully work toward resolving your stress, or using it to your advantage.
  • Regular practice of physical exercise and relaxation techniques to maintain the balance of your physical body, mind and spirit.
  • Periodically evaluate your stress levels and the effectiveness of your coping skills and relaxation techniques. Review what you’ve learned and continue to expand your skills to fit your changing lifestyle.

  • Hopefully some of these keys were helpful and taught you specific actions to manage your stressors and will help you to achieve balance in your life.
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