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Why Stress Is So Bad For Your Health

Stress is a natural part of life. These days there are very few who don’t get  stressed over money, the economy, the housing market, jobs or even family. Our  bodies naturally react to stress through blood pressure, heart rate,  respiration, body temperature and muscle contractions. Everyone deals with  stress on different levels and in different ways.  However, if one is not  able to deal with stress it can ultimately lead to mental and physical  exhaustion.

stressedIt wasn’t until the 1930’s that the word stress was used to characterize a  condition where a stressor causes stimulus. Hans Selye, an endocrinologist,  witnessed an inappropriate physiological response to demand placed on a human or  animal.  Before coining the term stress was considered a normal part of  daily function and encounters that results in strain. Now, we know that stress  plays an important part in physical, emotional and mental well being.

Stress is defined as a failure to respond appropriately to emotional or  physical threats whether they are real or imagined. The signs of stress are  easily recognizable and can present themselves as cognitive, behavioral,  emotional or physical symptoms. Therefore when presented with stress one’s whole  demeanor, attitude and presence can change. Cognitive, emotional and behavioral  symptoms include poor judgment, negative outlook, anxiety, worrying, moodiness,  irritability, agitation, inability to relax, loneliness, isolation, depression,  lack of concentration and absentmindedness. Physical symptoms include increased  heart rate, breathing, energy, blood pressure, cholesterol and production of  sweat. Stress can also cause physical symptoms of aches and pain, diarrhea,  constipation, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, chest pain, upset stomach and  headache. Chronic stress that occurs over a longer period of time consistently  can cause both physical and psychological damage to a person. Long-term stress  depresses the immune system leaving it susceptible to infections, disease, and  illness. Stress promotes the accumulation of visceral fat, which is a leading  cause of obesity. Additional chronic stress has been connected to ulcers,  cancer, heart disease, increased outbreaks of psoriasis, depression and diabetes. In children who  experience chronic stress a stunt to developmental growth is normally seen.

Stress is normally given a bad connotation, which implies it is  negative.  However, most people forget or don’t mention good stress. When  Hans Selye discovered stress, he studied all types of stress and realized that  stress even when its good is still a stress nonetheless. He developed eustress or good stress and distress or bad stress.  Eustress is a condition that enhances ones physical or mental function such as  exercise, marriage, having a baby or a promotion. Where as, distress is  persistent stress that is not resolved through coping or adaptation, which can  lead to symptoms of withdrawal or anxiety. The difference between good and bad  stress is based upon one’s past experiences, personal expectations, and the  resources to cope with stress.

Coping with stress is not an easy task. Everyone adapts to stress differently  and some people have an easier time dealing with stress than others. The way  that the body reacts to a stressor is understood through the General Adaptation  Syndrome (GAS), which describes the effects of stress on the body. Depending  upon the intensity and duration of the stressor will determine if the stress is  acute-short term or chronic-long term.  At the first sign of stress the  bodies stress response is in a state of alarm. The body reacts by producing  adrenaline which causes a fight or flight  response. Fight or flight is the body’s way of preparing to fight (cope, adapt)  or flee. The second stage is the resistance to stress. If a stressor persists  the body must find a means of coping with the stress.  Does the body have a  way to adapt to the strain or demands of the surrounding environment? As we cope  with stress, the body’s resources (nutrients, enzymes, proteins, amino acids,  vitamins, minerals) are gradually depleted. The final stage is exhaustion where  the body’s resources are completely used up, leading to inability to function  normally. Weakness, fatigue decreased energy, inability to concentrate or think  clearly are all signs of exhaustion. Long-term exhaustion can be detrimental to  ones health and can manifest disease. Although, these stages represent a model  of how stress affects the body, stress can manifest itself differently in every  person.

No two people will respond to the exact same stressor in the exact same way.  Life experience and social background play a role in determining ones ability to  cope with stress. Normal responses to stress include adaptation, coping, anxiety and depression. Coping mechanisms  include stress management. Stress management provides individuals with  techniques to handle stress on a daily basis. Learning to cope with stress will  help you live a happier, healthier life.

Sarah  Labdar –    About the Author:

Graduated with a BA in exercise science and have worked in the medical field  since.  My focus is alternative medicine however all aspects of health  interest me.  Check out my health website!

Everyday Health, Live  your Life to the fullest!

http://www.universalhealthinfo.com/Stress.html

 

The Perfect Heart

One day a young man was standing in the middle of the town proclaiming that he had the most beautiful heart in the whole valley.

heartA large crowd gathered and they all admired his heart for it was perfect. There was not a mark or a flaw in it.

Yes, they all agreed it truly was the most beautiful heart they had ever seen. The young man was very proud and boasted more loudly about his beautiful heart. Suddenly, an old man appeared at the front of the crowd and said,”Why your heart is not nearly as beautiful as mine.” The crowd and the young man looked at the old man’s heart. It was beating strongly, but full of scars, it had places where pieces had been removed and other pieces put in, but they didn’t fit quite right and there were several jagged edges.

In fact, in some places there were deep gouges where whole pieces were missing.

The people stared — how can he say his heart is more beautiful, they thought? The young man looked at the old man’s heart and saw its state and laughed. “You must be joking,” he said. “Compare your heart with mine, mine is perfect and yours is a mess of scars and tears.”

“Yes,” said the old man, “yours is perfect looking but I would never trade with you. You see, every scar represents a person to whom I have given my love – I tear out a piece of my heart and give it to them, and often they give me a piece of their heart which fits into the empty place in my heart, but because the pieces aren’t exact, I have some rough edges, which I cherish, because they remind me of the love we shared. Sometimes I have given pieces of my heart away, and the other person hasn’t returned a piece of his heart to me.

These are the empty gouges — giving love is taking a chance. Although these gouges are painful, they stay open, reminding me of the love I have for these people too, and I hope someday they may return and fill the space I have waiting. So now do you see what true beauty is?”

The young man stood silently with tears running down his cheeks. He walked up to the old man, reached into his perfect young and beautiful heart, and ripped a piece out.

He offered it to the old man with trembling hands. The old man took his offering, placed it in his heart and then took a piece from his old scarred heart and placed it in the wound in the young man’s heart. It fit,

But not perfectly, as there were some jagged edges. The young man looked at his heart, not perfect anymore but more beautiful than ever, since love from the old man’s heart flowed into his. They embraced and walked away side by side.

Twin Lives – A Tale of Heart

A little story: Once there were two children who lived in the inner city in  Dublin. They were twins, a boy and a girl. They had no chance in life. Even as  babies they were addicts – even before they left the womb. Their mother was  addicted to heroin. The father came and went bringing violence and abuse with  him. The children lived in squalor. They had no education, barely enough to eat,  and resorted to thieving to feed their mother’s addiction. At last they were  taken into care but nothing could change the pattern of their childhood. They  ran away and spent long periods on the streets. The boy developed his own drug  habit by the age of twelve. The girl broke away. She experienced abuse in the  guise of help and realized there was no authority under the sun she could trust.  But then as if a voice inside her had spoken she decided she would build her own  life, from the ground up. She managed, with difficulty, to  find a job and a room. After some time she took literacy classes, and  then progressed to night-school. Finally she enrolled in college and gained a  qualification. As the years passed she married, bought a house and had children.  One day she was walking over O’Connell Bridge and she saw a figure hunched  inside a sleeping bag, begging with a plastic cup in front of him. It was her  brother – her twin. He didn’t see her.

The brother never made it. He didn’t have the same opportunities. And yet  their opportunities were exactly the  same.

How is this possible? It wasn’t nature and it certainly wasn’t nurture – both  things had failed them completely. They had no chance in life. So how did one  rise up and the other didn’t?

I have no answer to this. One could look for little sociological clues or  say, perhaps, that the father had managed to spare an ounce more love for the  girl than for the boy. Somehow it feels as if you have to say something: find  some excuse for life.

I pondered over this and came up with one or two contributory elements,  apparently unrelated. The first was that, ‘You only receive what you can cope  with’. I believe this – that life gives you what you can handle, whether it  seems fair or not. It’s not a question of what you deserve but what you can cope  with. This doesn’t quite fit in, in terms of finding explanations, excuses or  justifications. Even if the shoulders are weak they carry the burden up to the  last breath. I could go on and say, the greater the heart the greater the load,  until there is a universe to bear. If a god’s own steps are slowed with the  burden he has to bear, then a human love might step in to help. I think we’re in  this position in life: that we bear the burden we can cope with in order that  the divine can carry the universe. In other words, by bearing the load – often  without any explanation or help – we perform a service for the divine in us.  Even if we don’t know there is any divine there at all.

The second element is the question of heart. In the story the girl seems to  have more ‘heart’ – in the sense of being able to lift herself up – than the  boy. Why is this? Both are like people lying on a bed of burning coals with feet  pressing them down. Why does one have the heart to get up while the other  doesn’t? This is just the original question put in a different form. Is it that  one is born with the heart while the other isn’t? We’ve already established that  both were born addicted. For me the answer is that the heart has to be given. In  this case it has to be given by the divine: the divine returns the help it has  received through the human being carrying its burden. This again brings up the  question, ‘Why does one deserve help and not the other?’

I believe the answer lies in my third element which is: Powerlessness.  Powerlessness soaks the argument out of you. It is the opposite of ‘world’. The  world is power. It has fullness, resources, opportunities. Powerlessness leaves  you like an empty, burnished bowl. It is the only time in life when it’s  justified to say that the human being is an empty vessel which has to be filled  up – when powerlessness has done its work. This is the great theme of tragedy:  catharsis. In drama the point comes when the gods say, ‘It’s done – that’s  enough’. In life it’s the same: the empty bowl can be filled with the flame of ‘heart’ which is the only real power in the world. I think this is the only  explanation why one rises up and the other doesn’t – the words, ‘It is  enough’.

All these ‘contributory elements’ aren’t explanations at all. But neither are  they excuses or justifications. Just try and find a satisfying answer to  problems like this that doesn’t include judgements or excuses for life: ‘He must  have deserved it’; ‘it was his karma’; ‘she had something in her that he  didn’t’; ‘there must have been something different that gave her a chance’. I  would personally like to find comprehensive answers that don’t impose further  burdens. Too often the feet pressing you down on the burning coals have some  connection to religion. And I like answers which belong within the spiritual  nature of the human being. To my mind those will have ‘heart’ and the chance of  personal responsibility.

However, all this circling around the question is just the way my particular  mind works. I would love to hear from anyone who has more experience or  different insights!

Jay  Landar –    About the Author:

Take a walk with author and poet Jay Landar through worlds of fantasy,  inspiration and insight. On the way you will see the people and problems of  today – the trials of the globe we all inhabit as it grows towards a new era.  Find the truth of the inner self and the gentle light it sheds on these  struggles – a light which can only grow stronger. Romance, Truth and Beauty are  the keywords of my articles. Please join me on our walk through these  worlds!

 

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