Handling Stress Levels and Staying Healthy

stress managementThe current state of the economy with lack of jobs, flu season, as well as increased taxes are but a few mere hits that we’re currently being barraged with emotionally and physically; all of which affect the balance of our overall health. Per the APA (American Psychological Assoc.), there are 2 types of stress; Acute or short-term, which is the most common and is a direct response to demand and pressure, a well as chronic stress, which causes ongoing feeling of despair.Increased stress levels typically affect women more than men. Behavior changes commonly associated with increased levels are comfort eating with poor dietary choices,  increased family conflict, increased anxiety/depression, as well as smoking and drinking. Documented physiological changes associated with stress are an elevated heart rate, elevated Blood Pressures and an increase in stress hormone circulation, which long-term, increases risk for health problems (NIH 2011).

I know that when I’m personally under a lot of stress, I notice an increase in my level of fatigue, lack of desire to perform the normal daily duties as well as find myself eating things that bring me comfort and not necessarily nutritional value. I also notice that I really don’t feel like exercising. It’s a conscious effort for me to get myself out of this cycle and on track.

There are many Disease processes or medical issues linked to ongoing stress, such as, Hypertension or high blood pressure, Anxiety/Depression, Diabetes, Asthma, Substance Abuse and Obesity, to name a few. Per APA, stress will prematurely age immune systems and increase the risk of illness as well as the usual age related disease (Djuric et al 2010, Germimus et al 2010.)

Increased stress levels of parents, directly affect their children. Children have a tendency to worry when they see their parents yelling, demonstrating apathy and/or not living a healthy lifestyle. This behavior in turn is patterned or learned by children, with an increased chance that this is the same type of response they will portray as coping skills in their adult lives. If anything parents, realize how significant this negative behavior will be long term, on your families.

I did find an interesting and helpful article by Katherine C Nordal PhD (APA Exec. Dir for Prof. Practice) that offered advice/suggestions for handling increased levels of stress for ya’ll and your families.  She addresses controllable factors, including but not limited to, evaluating our lifestyles, communication with our kids, creating a healthy home enviromnent and focusing on ourselves. I have provided a link to this article for those of you who would like to review it.

American Psychological Assoc -Managing stress Link


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