Welcome to Fall
In the Chinese view of the seasons, autumn is the season of metal, and the organ systems governed by the metal element are the Lungs and the Large Intestine. A natural occurrence during this season seems to be a clearing out of what is no longer needed and keeping what is truly valued. For many of us, this time of year seems to trigger a need to clean closets, toss out piles of papers and “stuff” that is unnecessary, prepare the harvest of summer and begin to ready ourselves for the deep stillness of winter. Some people feel a need to cleanse their digestive systems and lighten their bodies. Others find themselves more susceptible to colds and flu. Take some time to protect yourself during this changing season – drink more water, remember your vitamins, enjoy a diet of healthy foods and get some exercise when you are able. Your health is your greatest treasure…protect it well!
Stress in life is a normal occurrence;
We can’t get rid stress, but we can manage how we respond to it. In humankind’s past, a stress factor included hunting your food and avoiding becoming the meal of a predatory animal. Running away from a tiger would cause certain physiological responses in response to a life and death situation; adrenalin kicks into high gear, your digestive functions slows down and you escape and live to tell the story around the camp fire! Good body! Good stress response!
In modern times, adrenalin kicks into gear when traffic makes us late, or the boss is demanding more and NOW, or your teenager is out past curfew again! While stress can be a useful tool to help meet deadlines, it can also trigger some unpleasant health issues that are serious.
10 Health Problems Related to Stress
What are some of the most significant health problems related to stress? Here’s a sampling.
1. Heart disease. Researchers have long suspected that the stressed-out, type A personality has a higher risk of high blood pressure and heart problems. We don’t know why, exactly. Stress might have a direct effect on the heart and blood vessels. It’s also possible that stress is related to other problems — an increased likelihood of smoking or obesity — that indirectly increase the heart risks.
Doctors do know that sudden emotional stress can be a trigger for serious cardiac problems, including heart attacks. People who have chronic heart problems need to avoid acute stress as much as they can.
2. Asthma. Many studies have shown that stress can worsen asthma. Some evidence suggests that a parent’s chronic stress might even increase the risk of developing asthma in their children. One study looked at how parental stress affected the asthma rates of young children who were also exposed to air pollution or whose mothers smoked during pregnancy. The kids with stressed out parents had a substantially higher risk of developing asthma.
3. Obesity. Excess fat in the belly seems to pose greater health risks than fat on the legs or hips — and unfortunately, that’s just where people with high stress seem to store it. “Stress causes higher levels of the hormone cortisol,” says Winner, “and that seems to increase the amount of fat that’s deposited in the abdomen.”
4. Diabetes. Stress can worsen diabetes in two ways. First, it increases the likelihood of bad behaviors, such as unhealthy eating and excessive drinking. Second, stress seems to raise the glucose levels of people with type 2 diabetes directly.
5. Headaches. Stress is considered one of the most common triggers for headaches — not just tension headaches, but migraines as well.
6. Depression and anxiety. It’s probably no surprise that chronic stress is connected with higher rates of depression and anxiety. One survey of recent studies found that people who had stress related to their jobs — like demanding work with few rewards — had an 80% higher risk of developing depression within a few years than people with lower stress.
7. Gastrointestinal problems. Here’s one thing that stress doesn’t do — it doesn’t cause ulcers. However, it can make them worse. Stress is also a common factor in many other GI conditions, such as chronic heartburn (GERD) and IBS, Winner says.
8. Alzheimer’s disease. One animal study found that stress might worsen Alzheimer’s disease, causing its brain lesions to form more quickly. Some researchers speculate that reducing stress has the potential to slow down the progression of the disease.
9. Accelerated aging. There’s actually evidence that stress can affect how you age. One study compared the DNA of mothers who were under high stress — they were caring for a chronically ill child — with women who were not. Researchers found that a particular region of the chromosomes showed the effects of accelerated aging. Stress seemed to accelerate aging about 9 to 17 additional years.
10. Premature death. A study looked at the health effects of stress by studying elderly caregivers looking after their spouses — people who are naturally under a great deal of stress. It found that caregivers had a 63% higher rate of death than people their age who were not caregivers.
4 Ways to Fight Back Against Stress – and Improve Your Health
The next time you feel stressed, here are four stress relief tips you can try.
1. Breathe deeply. Just a few minutes of deep breathing can calm you and tame the physiologic stress response. While building in a specific time to relax each day is a good idea, one advantage to deep breathing for stress relief is that you can do it anywhere — at your desk or in your (parked) car, for instance.
Try to relax a specific muscle group as you breathe out, you. Start with the muscles in your jaw. On the next breath out, relax your shoulders. Move through the different areas of your body until you’re feeling calm.
2. Focus on the moment. When you’re stressed, you’re probably living in the future or the past. You’re worried about what to do next or regretful about something you’ve already done. To get some stress relief, instead try focusing on what you’re doing right now.
3. Reframe the situation. So you’re already running late and then find yourself stuck in terrible traffic. Getting worked up is a natural reaction, but it won’t help you at all.
Rather than swearing and pounding the steering wheel, get a different perspective. Look at that time as an opportunity — a few minutes to yourself where you don’t have any other obligations.
4. Keep your problems in perspective. It might seem Pollyannaish, but the next time you’re feeling stressed out, think about the things for which you’re grateful.
”Remind yourself of the basic ways in which you’re lucky — that you have family and friends, that you can see, that you can walk.” It can be a surprisingly effective method for stress relief.