[Written by Peter Nielsen].
The American Psychological Association recently published their Stress in America™ survey. This annual survey was conducted from August 4th to the 29th of 2014 and included 3,068 adults ages 18 and older. It found that 75 percent of Americans experienced at least one symptom of stress in the past month. Twenty-five percent of those surveyed said stress has a’ very strong’ or ‘strong’ impact on their physical or mental health. That is a stunning number!
Causes of stress include finances, work, family concerns and health issues. Whatever the concern, studies have shown that stress can negatively affect your health! It is common for stress to lead to sleep deprivation, headaches, anxiety and depression, and the long-term effects of stress can go much further than that.
Heart health. In 2013, the Oxford Journal published an analyses of 7268 men and women from the British Whitehall II study that included 18 years of follow-up. The study found that participants who reported that stress has affected their health ‘a’ lot or ‘extremely’ had a 2.12 times higher risk of coronary incidents, including death, when compared with those who reported no effect of stress on their health. Other studies, from different respected organizations, have come to the same conclusion.
Diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, stress may alter blood glucose levels and increase risks for diabetes in two ways.
Stress effects people’s activities, including alcohol consumption, exercise levels and dietary planning.
Stress hormones may directly alter blood glucose levels.
Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease affects 1 in 20 people aged 65 and over, a number that increases to approximately half of people aged 85 and older! The University of California – Irvine has devoted much research to investigating the effect of stress on Alzheimer’s disease. They found that patients with Alzheimer’s disease have elevated levels of cortisol in their blood streams … cortisol levels are increased by stress. Additionally, a study has also shown that people with stressful lives are around 2-3 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than others.
Decreasing the stress in our lives and managing our reaction to stressful situations is vita. Reducing stress is difficult, we are busy, worried about day-to-day problems with work, our families and our communities, but there are some steps you can take to significantly reduce the physical and emotional effect it has on your life.
Ask yourself what you can do about the sources of your stress. You can’t control everything, but you can control how you respond.
Learn and use relaxation techniques. Try breathing exercises, prayer and/or meditation.
Exercise regularly. You’ll feel better and be more prepared to handle problems.
Eat healthy. Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Avoid sugar or junk foods.
Teach yourself to say no when confronted with a stress-inducing situation.
Take the time for personal interests.
Get enough rest and sleep. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events.
Spend time with people you love.
If stress is making life difficult, and you need help, talk with a counselor or take a stress management class.
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