April is Stress Awareness Month


Stress…we all feel it and know what it means but do we know what it can do to us from the inside?  Studies are now showing that by not taking care of stress that we experience can lead to some serious health issues.  Your stress can lead to a poor immune system, which puts you at risk for catching and difficulty recovering from bacterial or viral infections along with poor wound healing.  And for those of you who get the flu shot, stress can prevent your immune system from properly responding to the vaccine, making you still susceptible to catching the flu.  Un-managed stress can also put you at risk for elevated blood pressure, which can then lead to heart problems later on if it continues to go untreated.


So…you’re probably thinking how do I eliminate stress for good?

Well…the truth is, you can’t.  This is because stress is a natural response that helps us get trough the difficult situations, but if it is not regulated, it can negatively impact our health.  We already cope with our stress without even knowing it.  Most of the ways that people deal with stress are considered unhealthy.

Here are some healthy ways to deal with stress:

  • Get up and move!  – Whether its going to the gym for a hard core workout, dancing to your favorite songs, or going on a casual walk.  Moving around in any way stimulates your body to release Endorphines, which make us feel good and lower our stress.
  • Connect with friends and family! – Talking about what makes us stress, whether it can be resolved or not, can decrease the tension.  And if talking to friends and family isn’t enough, sometimes getting professional help may do the trick.
  • Avoid unnecessary stress! – We sometimes put ourselves in situations that bring on more stress that could have been easily prevented.
    • Avoid people who stress you out.
      • This is not always realistic, especially if your boss or a family member but ten try to limit how many times you interact with them and make those interactions short and sweet.
    •  Saying “No” is okay.  Know your limits with taking on responsibilities in the work field and at home.  When possible, divide the work load.
  • Have fun and relax. – Make it an everyday plan, that is YOUR time, to de-stress.  Take a nice bubble bath, read a book, or go fishing.  Also plan something fun for the weekend, whether its going out to eat, getting a massage, or to the movies.  You can also find out what is free in your community if you don’t like spending.
  • Avoid the unhealthy choices of dealing with stress:
    • Binging on junk food (usually full of carbs and sugar)
    • Smoking
    • Sleeping too much
    • Taking stress out/withdrawing from others
    • Consuming too much alcohol or caffeinated beverages

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So you now have been educated on what stress can do to your body and even ways to manage it.  For more information and additional ways to manage your stress visit Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Resources for Information:

  1. Slowing of Wound Healing by Psychological Stress.  Prof J. K. Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, P.T. Marucha, A. M. Mercado, DMD, Prof W. B. Malarkey, MD, Prof R. Glaser, PhD.  Published: 1995 by Elsevier Ltd.  Available online 30 September 2003.
  2. Hemodynamic and Autonomic Adjustments to Real Life Stress Conditions in Humans.  Daniela Lucini, Guido Norbiato, Mario Clerici, and Massimo Pagani.  Published: January 1, 2002.
  3. Chronic Stress and Age-Related Increase in Pro-Inflammatory Cytokine IL-6.  Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser.  Kristopher J. Preacher, Robert C. MacCallum, Cathie Atkinson, William B. Malarkey, and Ronald Glaser.  Edited by Burton H. Singer, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ.  (Received for review April 2, 2003).
  4. Chronic Sress Alters the Immune Response to Influenza Virus Vaccine in Older Adults.  Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser, Ronald Glaser, Stefan Gravenstein, William B. Malarkey, and John Sheridanii.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the USA Vol. 93, pp 3043-3047, April 1996, Medical Sciences


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