Are you stressed out? If so, you’re hardly alone. With today’s ultra-busy lifestyles it’s not surprising that a person can suffer from sensory overload. But while virtually everyone today lives with some form of stress, most people don’t know how profoundly it can affect their health. Consider the following facts:
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- 43% of all adults suffer stress-related adverse health effects
- 75-90% of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related complaints or disorders
- Stress has been linked to all the leading causes of death, including heart disease, cancer, bronchial disease, accidents, liver disease, and suicide.
- An estimated 1 million workers are absent each day with stress-related complaints.
- Stress is responsible for more than 25 billion lost workdays annually.
What is stress?
Stress is the body’s natural response to external events. Whether you’re running late for an appointment or anxiously waiting the arrival of a loved one at the airport, your body produces a “fight or flight” response to give you the extra energy you need to deal with that situation. Your hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands release “stress” hormones—cortisol and adrenaline—which in turn 1) suppress bodily functions that are not urgently needed at that moment of stress, such as digestion, and 2) enhance those functions that help you cope with the situation, such as increase heart rate. Once the stressful situation has passed, your hormone production and body functions return to normal.
While a certain amount of stress is healthy, chronic, prolonged stress can weaken your immune system and hamper your body’s ability to fight disease.
How much is too much? What are the signs of too much stress?
Too much stress affects not only your body, but every area of your life and the lives of those around you. Anxiety, digestive problems, sleeplessness, depression, and problems with relationships are just a few of the signs that you may be overstressed.
Nine proven stress management techniques
Obviously, you can’t eliminate stress from your life entirely. Rather, the most effective way to reduce stress in your life is to learn how to manage it. More than just “learning to relax”, effective stress management means taking care of both your physical and mental health. Depending on your situation, this may include:
- Sleep. Sleep is essential in restoring health and vitality to your mind and body.
- Diet. A nutritious, balanced diet will help prepare your body for daily stress. Supplementing your healthy diet with targeted nutrients—at doses that are difficult to obtain from food—can help restore depleted energy and stamina lost during prolonged stress.
- Exercise. Incorporating 10 to 30 minutes of moderate physical exercise into your schedule may significantly reduce stress-related tension.
- Guided imagery. Guided imagery has been shown to relieve stress, reduce anxiety, and support health lifestyle changes, and is used widely in medicine, nursing, and psychology.
- Relaxation. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises can reduce physical and emotional tension.
- Effective communication. Leaning and practicing effective communication is essential for healthy relationships with family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances.
- Time management. Learning to manage your time can help reduce the stress that comes when “there aren’t enough hours in a day.”
- Leisure activities. Pursuing a satisfying hobby or indulging in a leisure activity can bring fulfillment and gratification—emotions associated with decreased stress levels.
- A positive attitude. Choosing to have a positive attitude is essential in dealing with stress.
FirstLine Therapy®—Better health now and for a lifetime
FirstLine Therapy (FLT) is a therapeutic lifestyle changes (TLC) program developed to help you address the underlying causes of disease and lead a healthier, more vibrant life. The basic principles of FLT—healthy eating, regular exercise, nutritional supplementation, and stress management—are the foundation upon which you and your healthcare practitioner can build a program tailored to your specific needs.For more information about FirstLine Therapy or to find a certified FirstLine Therapy practitioner near you, click here.