Thursday, March 31, 2011

Stress can be health concern contributor

Elaine Blaisdell, Cumberland Times-News, Md.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News 03-28-11

March 28--CUMBERLAND -- In today's fast-paced world stress is on the rise, and it can affect physical and emotional health. It is important to learn how to de-stress so that a person's health is not affected, mental health officials say.

"Stress is more prevalent in today's society -- more than ever. Over time, people overextend themselves by getting involved in too many activities, feeling like they have to run all the time," said Cumberland psychologist Dr. Kevin Peterson.

Approximately three-quarters of Americans say they experience chronic stress at unhealthy levels, putting them at risk for heart disease, diabetes and depression, according to the American Psychological Association's 2010 "Stress in America" survey.

Stress is what people feel when they have to handle more than they are used to, according to WebMd. When a person is stressed, his body responds as though it's in danger. Stress makes hormones that speed up the heart, makes a person breathe faster and gives a burst of energy. Some stress is normal; however, if it happens too often or lasts too long it can affect a person's health.

"Prolonged stress causes depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance and causes people to eat poorly," said Peterson. "All this compounds into an unhealthy lifestyle."

"A little stress in our daily lives motivates us to accomplish our tasks -- before the deadline at work, for example," said C.J. Cangianelli, local life coach. "Stress becomes problematic when our eating and sleeping patterns change, when we become unfocused and consumed with worry and anxiety. Listen to your body. It will tell you when your stress has reached unhealthy levels."

In order to de-stress, Peterson suggests simplifying life by focusing on priorities and by asking such questions as: What is it that I want out of life, What can I let go of and What is the source of my stress?
"Focus on the stress and remember that it is a temporary, natural part of life that we all encounter," said Peterson. "Even if you're in a period of stress right now, it will pass. Focus on taking care of the moment and the stress will pass."

Cangianelli recommends determining your cause of stress and making a plan to address it.
"If you are having money troubles, talk to a financial adviser," said Cangianelli. "If you are stressed out over an assignment at work, talk to your supervisor."

Don't spend all your time alone, indoors, stressing about life, says a State Point news service article. Enjoy natural sunlight and the great outdoors. Or spend more time with people who love you for yourself and who have upbeat outlooks about life. These people lift your spirits, help you have fun and even may help solve problems in your life

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