Thursday, September 27, 2012

Stress: Is it good for you?


Stress kills.  We here that all the time; stress can lead to heart attacks, strokes and some say stress can "cause" cancer.

Stress does cause a physiological reaction with the body, whether it is good stress or bad:



The Body’s Stress Response (Taken from the HelpGuide.org website)The Body’s Stress Response "When you perceive a threat, your nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones rouse the body for emergency action.
Your heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and your senses become sharper. These physical changes increase your strength and stamina, speed your reaction time, and enhance your focus – preparing you to either fight or flee from the danger at hand."
Too much stress can cause your body to react in a "not so positive way."  This type of stress can lead to many heath conditions that will far out-weigh the stress.  
So, how can stress be good for you?  Good stress comes from your reaction to whatever is happening.  As the Help Guide states:  when you perceive a threat you body releases hormones as a natural reaction.  What you do with it will determine if it will be bad for you or good for you.  We all need that adrenaline rush or life would be boring but "hanging on" to something that you cannot change can lead to unwanted consequences.
Let's look at a few major stressors that lead to bad stress: 
Loss of job:  
  • Will I find another job?  
  • How am I going to pay the bills?  
  • How will my family/friends "view" me now?
  • How am I going to pay for my family's doctor visits?
  • Will I find another job that pays me what I need to survive?
The list of reasons to stress goes on and on and unfortunately the best way to relieve this stress is to get another job.  This type of stress can lead to depression which brings on a more medical problems.  

Divorce:  
  • What did I do wrong?
  • How will I support my family?
  • What will my ex-spouse say to my children?
  • Will I ever find someone else?
  • How will I take care of my children?
This is another type of stress that can lead to depression and cause medical issues.

So what is good stress?  Here are a couple of examples.  
  • An almost car crash:  You slide on the ice and are heading towards an object that you are going to hit.  The adrenaline starts pumping.  Your body goes into fight or flight mode.  You are stressed in those few seconds.  You are able to avoid the car crash.  How is this stress good for you?  You learned from it and carry it with you.
  • Deadline:  Your boss places a file on your desk at 1:30 PM and it needs to be completed, proofed and approved  by 4:30 PM.  Stress right?  Again, your body reacts to this stress and the adrenaline starts pumping. This adrenaline can actually help you focus and complete the task at hand.  When you have the task completed there is a sense of relief and the "stress" is no longer there.
Life is hard.  Life today may be harder than it was a few years ago.  There is no doubt that we all experience stress.  What we do with it is up to us.  How we handle the stress will determine if it is good or bad.  One of my favorite quotes is by Maya Angelou:


“If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.”

I realize that this quote does not work for all situations as there are some stessors out there that just can't be helped.  Use this for the stress that happens in your life that you can change either the stress or your attitude towards it.

Please tell me how you relieve stress.

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