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Stress - Damage Control

Posted on 5 June, 2015 at 2:05

We've heard it all before - "Stress: The Silent Killer".  What exactly does that mean and why?

What does it mean - well, unless you've been sleeping under a hedge, then you should be aware that the media and the medical profession are always harping on about stress and how we should reduce it.

Stress |strɛs|noun [ mass noun ] - "a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances: he's obviously under a lot of stress | [ in combination ] : stress-related illnesses."

Stress can come upon people in many different forms. Sometimes it sneaks up on you gradually and other times it can be dumped on you without warning, like when there is a sudden death in the family or a retrenchment after many years of service.  For my part, stress crept up on me gradually until I didn't realise how stressed I was and then I had a nervous breakdown. Then a couple of years later I had another one, and then another one. Three to be exact and all whilst working for the same company (consequently I don't work there any more), and, YES, I take a long time before I learn my lesson.

Stress doesn't just effect the mind, but it also affects the body. The physical effects of stress usually last longer and take longer to reverse than the mental side-effects. For me I had sugar-cravings all-day-every-day; headaches and migraines; nausea (sometimes vomiting); muscle aches when there was no reason for the muscles to ache; diarhhea; dizziness; lethargy; hypertension (high blood pressure); suicidal depression (in a big way), etc. etc.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Now is your chance to do something about it.

Now given all the physical aspects of stress that I was enduring, the general medical profession treat the symptoms without actually looking at the underlying cause - STRESS. 

  • Sugar cravings - makes the body physically crave sugar and carbohydrates and the more you eat of these the more your body craves them. Sugar indulgence leads to weight gain, depression and mood swings, can lead to Diabetes Type 2 or Insulin Resistance (which means the body struggles to lose fat and that in itself can lead to high blood pressure).  
  • Headaches and Migraines - according to my Neurologist, the medical profession still cannot categorically state what causes either Headaches or Migraines, as each person reacts to different stimulants, siituations, foods, medicines, etc differently. Both headaches and migraines can be caused by High Blood Pressure; they can also be caused by a lack of water, especially since your brain is made up of about 70% water. Continuous headaches or migraines puts emotional pressure on the sufferer and can also cause problems in personal relationships if the other person has no empathy or understanding of what a migraine actually feels like.
  • Nausea - stress can quite easily cause a person to feel nauseous. These sensations are generated in the part of the brain that also controls the vomiting response.
  • Muscle Aches - long term muscle aches and pains could be misconstrued as Fibromyalgia.
  • Diarrhea - As with nausea and vomiting, diarrhea can be a side-effect of stress. If this symptom continues over an elongated timeframe it can then lead to the person to developing Ulcerative Collitis.
  • Dizziness - Unless there are other reasons for feeling dizzy on a regular basis, then stress can cause you to feel dizzy, and usually goes hand-in-hand with nausea. Sometimes this can be caused by lack of oxygen as stressed people often have shallow breathing.
  • Lethargy - can be caused by low oxygen intake, the downfall from excess sugar consumption, diarrhea which drains the body of minerals and electrolytes.
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure) - as with all other symptoms the effects of long-term stress can be diabolical and cause more severe medical problems such as heart disease.
  • Depression - what hasn't been said about depression. Excess sugar-consumption which leads to giant mood-swings from major highs to major lows, and this in itself causes "depressive" types of symptoms.
The Mayo Clinic advises that you may also want to:
  • Change what you can to lower your stress.
  • Accept that there are some things you cannot control.
  • Before you agree to do something, consider whether you can really do it. It's OK to say "no" to requests that will add more stress to your life.
  • Stay connected with people you love.
  • Make it a point to relax every day. You could read a book, listen to music, meditate, pray, do yoga or tai chi, journal, or reflect on what is good in your life.
  • Be active! When you exercise, you'll burn off some of your stress and be better prepared to handle problems.
Stress itself needs to be dealt with head-on. If the cause is removed then the symptoms should abate. However you may find that they take longer to disappear if the emotional and psychological aspects of the stress are also not dealt with.  One treatment that can be used to help reduce the side-effects of stress is relaxational massage or even manual lymphatic drainage.

 


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