Friday, February 10, 2012

Take the S off Your Chest

Did you know that negative stress - "distress" leads to disease and ultimately subtracts years from our life. Statistics show that a startling 75% - 90% of all doctor's visits are stress related. The Centers for Disease Control, in Atlanta, sights a significant link between stress and six of the leading causes of death; heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide.
"Fight or flight" is an auto response in which our mind tells our body to stand guard. In response to stress, our heart speeds up, our blood pressure rises, our breathing quickens, and sweating increases. These physical responses are immediate, but there are many other stress effects that significantly impact not only our long-term physical health, but our mental and emotional health as well. Let's look at five of our body systems and the direct affect that stress has.
I'm a survivor
Our immune system is the main line of defense against disease like the ones previously mentioned. This is our fighting system. When we allow ourselves to become stressed we leave ourselves open to attack. We even become more susceptible to illnesses that are easily preventable such as the common cold and flu.
Have a heart
Our circulatory system houses our heart, our most vital organ. It allows the rest of our systems to thrive. Our circulatory system cannot do its' job when we subject ourselves to stress. A rise in our blood pressure indicates that our heart, which is a muscle, has to work twice as hard to do the same job. Increased blood pressure leads to increased risk for heart disease. Hypertension, better known as high blood pressure is a primary link to incidence of heart attack.
Brain Power
Our brain is the "control center" of the body. When the body is not well rested, our entire nervous system is thrown out of whack. For example, when fatigue sets in we are unable to function at an optimal level. Not only will the frequency of headaches increase but accidents as well. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration officially recognize stress as a leading cause of worksite injuries. Additionally, the Department of Transportation reports that 71,000 deaths annually can be attributed to fatigue.
Skin Deep
The skin is our body's largest organ! It is our outer covering- the very first thing others see. Whatever is going on inside will show itself on the outside. Stress tremendously affects the aging process. One of the first places we show our age is in fact, our face. Stress can also cause a person to break out in hives, similar to the response experienced during an allergic reaction.
Break it Down
Stress interferes with the digestion system functioning properly. The process of digestion allows us to gain the fuel our bodies need to run efficiently. Stress causes the digestive system to completely shut down. If your stomach is in knots because of stress, you can experience one of the two signs that let you know your system is "out of order" - diarrhea or constipation.