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Managing Stress

Posted November 14, 2012 in Advice Column

At one time or another, all of us are under stress. Stress consists of two parts: the events or problems that cause it and how we react or deal with these stressors. Stress can be very hard on the heart and can cause blood pressure spikes. If stress lasts for a long time, you can feel very irritable, angry or just plain worn out.

Stress can make you sick in weird ways:
 •    Your brain is in pain. When you’re stressed, your hormones set off a series of neurochemical events in your brain that stimulates your nerves and causes your blood vessels to swell. The result is tension headaches and migraines.
    •    Your stomach churns and burns. Anxiety and stress can cause the body to produce more digestive acid, which leads to heartburn. It can also slow the emptying of food from the stomach causing gas and bloating as well as abdominal cramping.
 •    You sneeze up a storm. Stress suppresses the immune system, making it easier for you to get sick.
 •    You’re up all night. Stress is the number one cause of sleep deprivation and insomnia.
 •    You pack on the pounds. When your body perceives stress, it assumes you need physical energy to protect yourself and releases adrenaline and cortisol, which trigger the sensation of being hungry.
    •    Your skin is a mess. Stress stimulates the skin’s nerve endings, causing flare-ups of skin conditions ranging from eczema to cold sores.
   •    Your cuts and scrapes just won’t go away. Stress can make injuries take longer to heal.
    •    You forget your kids’ names. High levels of the stress hormone cortisol can temporarily impair your ability to recall well-known information.
Some tips to help you avoid or cope with stress:
 •    Ask for help. Explain that you’re feeling overwhelmed and could use some help, and you will probably get a more enthusiastic response.
 •    Make a list. Jot down all the things you have to do and the amount of time each should take.
    •    Prioritize. Identify the items on your list that are most critical and start with those.
    •    Walk away. Literally remove yourself from the stressful situation, take some deep breaths and relax for 10 minutes. Clear your head and return.
    •    Assist your future self. Sort mail as you receive it, dust/vacuum one room a day so you don’t have the entire house to clean at once. Prep meals on Sundays so you don’t have to do as much to prepare dinner on busy weeknights.
•    Hug it out. Hugging for 20 seconds or more can decrease the stress hormone cortisol.
 •    Work it out. Go for a walk, run or do a relaxing yoga routine.

Information provided by Kelsey Klaver, Marketing Director of Crestview Nursing and Rehabilitation, 2401 Des Moines St., Webster City. For more information, call (515) 832-2727.

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