Did you know that stress can LITERALLY make you sick? Of course, we all encounter some form of stress like being stuck in traffic or the loss of a loved one or friend. But continuous, intense mental and physical stress can kill you. The problem is not the stress itself but how we respond to it. This is so because we see different things to be stressful. So what is this ‘stress’ that we all talk about and we all experience? Bear in mind that it can be both positive and negative.
Stress is defined as the body’s response or reaction to a particular situation. The effects of stress can affect you mentally, physically and it can affect your behaviour. An example of mental stress can be the trauma a soldier undergoes after returning from war and physical stress can be in the form of a major operation that you have at the hospital.
What would our lives be without stress, actually quite boring indeed! Stress is actually designed to challenge us thus making us better. What makes the difference is how we cope with the stressful event that we face.
I would like to share the physical effects that stress can have on the body, highlighting 3 common diseases that can be caused. And in turn, share 3 ways you can start today in order to help you deal with the stress you feel.
The 1st illness I would like to talk about is hypertension, also called high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a disease in which the pressure in the arteries of the body increases. The arteries are those structures in the body that carries blood away from the heart to the rest of the body. Hypertension can affect many organs and structures in the body including the brain, the heart, the kidneys and of course the arteries. The scary thing about high blood pressure is that it is a silent killer. It has little to no symptoms associated with it as other diseases do. Some persons, however, get headaches, pain at the back of the neck, may get lightheaded, dizzy or even faint. The only way to know for sure if you are hypertensive is by checking your blood pressure and a medical care practitioner will tell you whether your recorded pressure is normal for your age, activity or underline health status. You could be told that you have high blood pressure if you have 3 consecutive high readings. Not to worry you can manage your high pressure by adjusting your diet before a doctor will consider adding medication. High blood pressure can be very serious and should not be taken lightly. It can lead to serious problems like kidney failure, damage to the eye, and a heart attack, which is the 2nd illness I would like to highlight that can be caused by stress.
A heart attack or myocardial infarction happens when there isn’t sufficient blood flow to the vessels that lead to and surround the heart. When there is a consistent decrease or absence of blood flow for a long period of time the cells of the heart muscle become damaged or die. Some of the symptoms may include, severe chest pain, in the middle of the chest that can move to the left arm, shoulder, jaw or back. It is usually described as the worse pain ever that can even wake you out of your sleep, lasting more than 20 minutes. You could also feel faint, dizzy, have profuse sweating or feel shortness of breath. But be aware that in women, older persons and people with diabetes may have little or no chest pain. If you think you or someone you know might be having a heart attack, call 911 immediately. Do not attempt to drive yourself to the hospital.
The 3rd illness that can be caused by stress is stomach ulcers. These types of ulcers are also called stress ulcers. Stomach ulcers are caused when the inner lining of the stomach eats away from the acid that is naturally produced in the stomach. This acid is essential as it aids in the digestion process. As the lining erodes it can cause excruciating pain or discomfort in the upper area of the tummy. Other problems include excessive belching and the feeling to vomiting. People with stress ulcers can reduce the damage already done by changing their eating habits and of course reducing or coping better with their stressful situation
So what can we do to reduce our stress level or respond more favourably to stressful events or situations.
- Seek a support group or professional help: many persons don’t deal well with stress or are not quite sure what to do. Depending on your particular situation, it could be helpful to reach out to someone who is in your situation or somebody who can better understand. It is best to seek someone who is well knowledgeable about the topic and in which you can confine. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine who you can confide in, but there are different groups and organizations where you can reach out too to get help. Seek and you shall find.
- Relaxations techniques: there are many different ways you can relax. You have to determine for yourself what techniques work best for you. These can include exercises including aerobics, yoga, walks, playing a sport, reading a good book, going to the beach etc.
- And a surprisingly, eating watermelons: watermelon is a fruit used all over the world and in every culture. There are over 1200 varieties of watermelons. Apart from hydrating your body because watermelons contains92% water and 6% sugar, and like other fruits are rich in vitamin C, very importantly they contain a substance called citrulline. Recent studies have discovered that this very important substance that relaxes the blood vessels in the body thus improving blood flow. When the blood vessels are relaxed, it allows for more blood to flow to the vital organs and increasing oxygen flow to these parts. In fact, Dr Bhimu Patil, director of Texas A&M’s Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center says that watermelon may actually have the same effects of Viagra.
Read Dr Patil full story here http://agnews.tamu.edu/showstory.php?id=554
So how are you coping with your stress or stressful situation? Share your tips!