In our busy world, we find that just about any situation can cause stress

In our busy world, we find that just about any situation can cause stress. Whether it’s the back-to-school rush, everyday work, finances and family needs, or just finding time to walk the dog, we have stress waiting for us almost continually. How do we find ways to cope with this stressful way of life, and what happens when we don’t?  Stress is defined as any situation that causes a negative impact on the recipient’s mental or physical well-being. There are two categories of stress, acute and chronic.

 Acute stress is related to a shocking, terrifying, or traumatic event.  Acute stress is most frequently unavoidable.  Sudden illness, accidents or frightening events are all examples of what creates stress or shock. Each event has its own negative impact and may ruin your day; although once the illness is treated, or the event is past, the stressful effect lessens immediately, fading completely in a relatively short period of time.

Chronic stress is a state of prolonged tension from internal or external stressors, which may cause various physical manifestations. Chronic stress is an on-going negative event, physical or environmental occurrence that causes a negative impact on the mental or physical well-being of the recipient. Examples of chronic stress can be a difficult job, a rocky relationship, a chronic illness.

Chronic stress takes a more significant toll on your body than acute stress does. It can raise blood pressure, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, increase vulnerability to anxiety and depression, contribute to infertility, and hasten the aging process. For example, results of one study from 2006 published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, demonstrated that “individuals who reported relationship conflict lasting one month or longer have a greater risk of developing illness and show slower wound healing. Similarly, the effects that acute stressors have on the immune system may be increased when there is perceived stress and/or anxiety due to other events. For example, students who are taking exams show weaker immune responses if they also report stress due to daily hassles.” Chronic stress can affect growth and development of children, wound healing, hormone and immune responses, as well as psychosocial well-being.

Stress management is defined as any event or activity that a person participates in as an attempt to reduce the mental or physical effects of stress. There are workshops, training events, classes, online courses and a library of articles that all claim to be the cure for stress. As you can see, there is no “one size fits all” cure for stress. What causes stress for someone else may not be so stressful for you. Some rules that will help, no matter what the cause of the stress is, include learning when to say “no”, and setting limits and sticking with them both at home and on the job. Find ways to keep your chronic conditions, such as blood pressure or blood sugar, under control, and make time to take care of yourself. Listening to music, reading a book, a walk by the water or in the woods or a hobby are all ways of relieving stress. Find one that works for you, and enjoy!

Make plans now to attend the monthly coaching program, Knowledge, Nutrition, Exercise, and Wellness (K.N.E.W.) You!  Each month, we will discuss a different wellness topic that will help you better manage your health.  Our next class will be 5:15 until 6:15 p.m. ET Tuesday, Oct. 22 at Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf. We will have dinner and talk about Stress Management. Please let us know if you plan to attend. Call 227-1276, ext. 132.