The trials and tribulations of our daily activities contribute to increasing stress levels. Family activities such as paying bills, washing clothes, preparing meals and taking children to after school practices and lessons may be only one night’s activities for the end of your work day. Working overtime, meeting deadlines at work and following through with personal obligations can add to your stress. These stressors occurring day after day are very dangerous as bad stress can cause damage to your body. What are some adverse side effects of increased stress and what can we do about them? This article presents informative ideas to help you control and manage stress before professional intervention becomes the only alternative.
Adverse Effects of Stress
Both acute and chronic stress can create adverse reactions in the body. What are some signs and symptoms of this type of stress? Some examples are:
- Memory Loss – Can’t remember names? Forget where you placed your keys or why you came into the room? Some authorities believe this is not a sign of dementia unless it is progressively getting worse. This temporary memory loss can be reversible once the stress has subsided.
- Increased Weight – Stressed individuals don’t take the time to prepare nutritious and well-balanced meals. Eating on the run with “comfort food” and frequent snacking are common.
- Blood Sugar Increases – Stress constantly draws the need for glucose to feed a needed jolt for the body to function. The blood glucose levels rise to supply the body and over a long period of time damage to the blood vessels and the pancreas can occur.
- Cancer – Studies have been done that support the premise that prolonged stress can contribute to development of cancer in the body.
- Personal Changes – Adverse reactions to stress can present problems at home and work. These reactions may include impatience, depression and a “short temper”.
Significant reactions you may suffer with chronic stress are inflammation of the blood vessels and cardiac problems. This stress can lead to an early heart attack. Stress management is necessary for your health and can help reduce medical expenses. What can be done to help change the spiral of stress before it gets chronic and intense? Some suggestions include:
Management of Stress
- Ask someone at work or home to help with the task or tasks that need to be done. The attitude that “I’m the only one that can do this” precipitates stress. Someone may be able to provide help with parts of any project. Let go of total control and check their work when finished. It will free up more of your time to accomplish other tasks. If a husband, wife, partner or children are at home ask them to help with household chores from grocery shopping to cooking to house work.
- Organizing your time by making notes can be very helpful. Write down 2 or 3 tasks that need to be done the following day and prioritize them. Don’t write down non-essential items or activities that don’t need to be done right away. If these are added to the list, it just adds more stress as it isn’t realistic the additional tasks will be accomplished. Once you make your list, put it out of your mind until the next day. Check your list the following day and then just work on those 2-3 items.
- Make a list of your concerns and then discuss them with family and others. You may discover there are projects they can help you with. It’s a relationship builder as well!
- Sleep deprivation contributes to stress. Set a goal of 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Set a schedule for going to bed at the same time every night and try to adhere to it. This allows your body and mind to relax and properly prepare for the next day.
- Exercise is a great stress reliever. Increasing your heart rate and endurance burns stress. Have a regular program. This is part of your being organized.
- Good nutrition is essential. Most fast food and “junk foods” are short of essential nutrients the body needs to feed the nervous and cardiovascular systems. Supplementation with calcium and the B Vitamins may be helpful. Don’t skip breakfast, as this puts stress on your body to maintain blood sugar levels. Protein foods such as eggs and complex carbohydrates from fruit fuel your body with proper nutrition. Consuming large quantities of caffeine from coffee or cola drinks stresses the adrenal glands. Caffeine consumption after 2-3 pm should be avoided. Protein rich snacks throughout the day are helpful to prevent a drop in blood sugar and developing fatigue. Energy bars and trail mix are two items that are easy to carry. Drinking water periodically during the day is vital for your well being and stress control.
- Activities such as yoga, Tai Chi, gardening, fly fishing, jogging, meditation, breathing exercises or watching a TV program or movie that produces laughter are stress relievers. Any activity that lets you work at your own pace can relieve stress. Stress relief can result from both increasing your heart rate through exercise or engaging in peaceful activities. Visualization or guided imagery may be very helpful. Find a quiet room, begin breathing slowly and visualize the goal of completing your project. Taking the time to “daydream” is a 10-15 minute escape during your day. You have many choices, just choose one and get started.
This article is not a substitute for professional care, but offers some ideas to help in self care of stress. If these are not successful, consideration for other avenues of help are necessary. If you are dealing with stressful activities that are affecting your life adversely, contact your primary care physician for evaluation and treatment recommendations. Professional help and counseling may be needed. When chronic stress gets to the point that you are feeling heart palpitations, short tempered, anxious and suffering from insomnia it’s time to make that appointment.
Don’t let stress harm your overall health. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and let go of the idea “only I can do it”. Take action to begin controlling and managing your stress. It may take others to help you. The doctors at Coon Rapids Chiropractic Office are available for an appointment by calling 763-755-4300