Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Stressed Blogger

Americans are stressed. We stress about work, the economy, school, love, weight, even stress itself. Well, April happens to be National Stress Awareness Month. April 16th is Stress Awareness Day so take this day to relax. Right now, take just a moment to think about stress and its affects on your life.

The behavioral effects of an over-stressed lifestyle are easy to explain. When under pressure, some people are more likely to drink heavily or smoke, as a way of getting immediate chemical relief from stress. Others may have so much work to do that they do not exercise or eat properly. They may cut down on sleep, or may worry so much that they sleep badly. They may get so carried away with work and meeting daily pressures that they do not take time to see the doctor or dentist when they need to. All of these are likely to harm health.

Stress hormones accelerate the heart to increase the blood supply to muscles; however, blood vessels in the heart may have become so narrow that not enough blood reaches the heart to meet these demands. This can cause a heart attack. Stress has been also been found to damage the immune system, which explains why we catch more colds when we are stressed. It may intensify symptoms in diseases that have an autoimmune component. Stress is also associated with mental health problems and, in particular, anxiety and depression. Here the relationship is fairly clear: the negative thinking that is associated with stress also contributes to these.

To relieve stress, Americans try numerous things to a fight, prevent, and recover from stress:

  • Stress Balls, Relaxation Tapes, and other stress-fighting products and services account for $14 BILLION of spending in the U.S. EACH YEAR.

  • Globally, more than three out of five doctor visits are STRESS RELATED. In the U.S. alone, more than $22.8 BILLION is spent on anxiety-related health care each year.

  • Each year, more than 275,000,000 working days are lost in the U.S. because of absenteeism resulting from stress. One in four Americans admits to having taken a "mental-health day" to cope with stress. This costs employers $602 per worker per year.

Regular exercise can reduce your physiological reaction to stress. It also strengthens your heart and increases the blood supply to it, directly affecting your vulnerability to heart disease. If you suspect that you are prone to stress-related illness, or if you are in any doubt about the state of your health, you should consult appropriate medical advice immediately. Keep in mind that stress management is only part of any solution to stress-related illness.

Sources
Stress and Your Health: http://www.mindtools.com/stress/UnderstandStress/StressHealth.htm
National Stress Awareness Month, By the Numbers:
http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/144/under-pressure.html#self