Stress…it is the human body’s defense mechanism to overcome fear or trauma,
avoid danger, or prepare for a threatening situation.
It serves as a resource to deal with unexpected challenges—whether they are perceived or real. Most people associate stress with life’s daily difficulties or emotional challenges. Few realize the impact of psychological and physical stress or the physiologic effect prolonged exposure to stress can have on the human body. The health risks associated with chronic stress include increased risk of heart attack, stroke, infertility, rapid aging, headaches, insomnia, anxiety/depression, poor immune function, weight gain/loss, and fatigue despite adequate sleep. Quality of life can be affected as well in the form of decreased libido, irritability, mood swings, sleeplessness, inability to focus, loss of friendships or other relationships.
Stress affects each person differently.
Some people not only handle stress well but tend to function at their best while under pressure. Others become completely overwhelmed and incapable of making the simplest decision at the slightest hint of tension. It is important for each person to evaluate his or her own ability to deal with stress and take measures to counteract the physical effects before debilitating harm is done.
Recognizing the warning signs of stress is key to preventing long term damage.
Some of the physical signs that the body is being taxed include aches and pains, decreased libido, diarrhea or constipation, frequent illnesses, chest pains, shortness of breath, nausea, and racing heartbeat. Emotional symptoms can include moodiness, easily agitated, feeling overwhelmed, depression, feeling of abandonment, or generally unhappy. Mental function may degrade in the form of memory problems, inability to concentrate, negative thinking, poor decision making, or constant state of ‘doom and gloom’. Behavior changes that occur as a result of stress might include things like change in diet, self medicating with alcohol, drugs or cigarettes, neglecting everyday tasks or jobs, increase or decrease in sleep, or removing oneself from interacting with others. Again, everyone is unique so the signs and symptoms will vary from person to person.
Once the signs are recognized, steps can be taken
to relieve the negative effect stress has on the body.
Gentle exercise. Walking, swimming, yoga, tai chi, or dancing are all examples of stress relieving exercises. If you are under stress, doing strenuous workouts can actually add to that stress by taxing you physically. Keep it gentle and remember to breathe deeply during the activity.
Take care of number one. Women, especially,
tend to put themselves last while taking care of everyone else.
It is necessary to prioritize what is important—putting your health at the top. Make and take time for healthy eating, physical activity, meditation, down time, socializing, and proper sleep. Write yourself a prescription for a therapeutic massage, bubble bath, or relaxation time with aromatherapy candles and music. It is not a luxury or pampering…it is medically necessary to your health and well-being.
Be positive. Try to think positive thoughts.
Constantly thinking negatively only makes you feel bad and can add to your stress. Think of the good things you do and keep your focus there. Tell yourself (and others if necessary) that you are doing the very best you can and you are doing a good job. (And believe it!)
Change the things you can…
Sometimes the only way to effectively deal with stress and tension is to remove the source from your life. This may be a very, very difficult decision but one that could ultimately save your life. For example, if you are currently working in an environment that leaves you feeling exhausted, frustrated, overwhelmed, overworked, underpaid, or underappreciated…maybe it’s time to consider a new job.
Just say ‘No’. It is ok to say, ‘no’.
So often we tend to commit to things we really don’t have the time or energy for. The next time you are asked to do something, stop and ask yourself, ‘Will this endeavor ultimately enrich my life or will it be a burden?’.
Laugh! Laughter truly is the best medicine.
It has been proven to reduce tension, improve blood flow, and improve heart health. Plus, laugh lines are far more attractive than furrowed brow lines. Spend time with someone who makes you laugh, watch a funny movie or comedian, or simply think of something that made you laugh, throw back your head and laugh out loud.
Prolonged exposure to chronic stress can decrease quality of life,
impede health and well-being and potentially reduce longevity.
Realizing the physiologic effects of stress, recognizing the warning signs, and taking steps to de-stress will lead to better health. Each will need to develop his or her own stress relieving methods then practice them in order to avoid the damaging effects stress can have on the body.
Brenda Pavlic is a nationally certified pharmacy technician and co-owner of SaveWay Compounding Pharmacy in Newark, DE. With more than twenty-five years of pharmacy experience she has furthered her career with extensive training and education in Pharmacy Compounding, Women’s Health, Cosmeceutics, Pain Management, Aseptic and Veterinary Compounding. She has published articles and presented seminars both locally and nationally to healthcare practitioners. Her experience and education provide her with skills needed to develop formulations that ease medication administration, improve compliance and ultimately result in positive outcomes for patients.
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