- Mental Health
Stress It's a killer
“You know; you really should watch your blood pressure. My nephew Izzy just keeled over mid-mango. Stress, it's a killer, sir. And he was a fruit bat. No meat. No blood even”.
It may have sounded hilarious when Bartok the crazy little fruit bat said it in the Disney classic Anastasia but stress is no laughing matter!
It came as no surprise to me when I heard that 90% of healthcare visits in the U.S. are stress related. I think that everyone is well aware by now of what stress "is," but I'm not too sure that everyone knows what stress "does." If you’re anything like me, you have heard about stress, and you honestly believe that you’re doing a really good job of taking care of it just like I did. It's a real eye opener to find out the hard way that you’re not! I can assure you that if you think, you have your stress under control, and you are not taking deliberate steps to control it; it's going to get the better of you sooner or later.
Stress shows up in subtle ways at first such as headaches, stomach upset and such. Then it continues in a domino like reaction and can lead you to places that you really don't want to go. Chronic stress can take you to such dark places as depression, PTSD and even suicide. I learned this hard way first hand!
Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever believed that I was so stressed out that I would end up with depression, anxiety or PTSD. I can honestly say that my bouts with these stressors were the scariest and darkest place that I have ever been to in my life. Once the wheels are in motion the chain reaction is hard to stop and so are the hormones that stress releases.
Faster heartbeat speeded up respiration and hyperventilation, which caused dizziness had become a natural way of life for me.
I was unaware of the fact that when your stress levels are high, your body has to make available glucose in the blood to create the famous flight or fight reaction. I was also unaware of the fact that if you stay in fight or flight mode long enough your pancreas does not know the difference between stress or cake. I only came to realize this after being diagnosed as a Diabetic.
Muscle tension, Fatigue, Change in sex drive, anxiety, Restlessness, arthritis, anxiety, overeating, and diabetes are just a few of the known problems that can be bought on by stress, and I can assure you of every single one of these first hand.
Of all the information that has been gathered on stress the best known is how stress impacts the heart. After losing my husband to a heart attack at the young age of twenty six, I’m here to attest to the fact that stress can impact the heart to the point where it will take out even the healthiest of young men with no prior health problems or family history of heart disease!
Perhaps if he had been made aware of the new research that men who have stresses at home or at work have a 30% higher chance of dying, then those who have stress-free jobs, (if those even exist anymore) he might still be alive today.
Large portions of the population are daily in a constant state of tension. I know this fact to be true because almost everyone I talk to seems to live in this stress filled tension state 24/7. It seems that our muscles are constantly clinched and tense from the moment our eyes open in the morning to the time we close them at night. I have honestly known people who are so stressed out that they keep their jaw muscles clinched and even bite their nails while they sleep.
Walking around in a state of constant tension is so common now that my doctor has even given it a name: over spasticity. This type of tension made it easy for me to injure and then rip the Longissimus Thoracis muscle in my back. Trust me on this one; it is easier to learn to relax the muscles before you injure them then after the injury has occurred. Once the damage has begun the pain only intensifies. It has now taken me almost a year to heal!
Psychological stress can easily lead to physical tension. I honestly never really realized how uptight and clinched I kept my back muscles until I tore mine. When we start to feel anxious or worried our first instinct is too tense. Our bodies work on a beautiful pulley system but when we keep our muscles in a state of constant tightness problems are going to arise. The tightness that we first feel will end up escalating if we do not address it. We finally reach the point where eventually it becomes a habit and normal for us to live in this tense state. Once this happens, tearing muscle fibers and or ligaments, is easy as pie. Immediate steps must be taken the moment you feel the tension to help reduce it. Even further steps must then be taken to calm the mind since this is where most of our stress begins.
I don't care what you have to do to reduce the stress in your life just do it! Exercise, go to a movie, take up a hobby, try yoga, do meditation, listen to soothing music, get a Jacuzzi and use it, get massages, see a chiropractor regularly, join a dance class. Do whatever it takes to distress and do it as if your life depends on it because it does!