More than twenty years ago, stress was the cover story in Time magazine. Stress was referred to as “The Epidemic of the Eighties” and it was referred to as the nation’s number one health problem. Flash forward to 2007. Results were released on December 12, 2007 from “Stress in America,” the American Psychological Association’s annual survey of stress in the general public in the U.S. The researchers interviewed 1848 adults 18 and over, and the interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish.
Seventy-nine percent of those surveyed believe that they cannot avoid stress and in the month prior to the survey, 77% of those surveyed experienced stress-related physical symptoms, including headaches, GI problems, and fatigue. Seventy-three percent admitted to emotional symptoms, including feeling nervous, lack of motivation, irritability, and anger. In addition, nearly half of Americans (43 percent) reported that stress negatively impacted their relationships with spouses or partners. A fourth of Americans believe that in the past five years, their personal relationships suffered because of stress .
STRESS AND YOUR BODY
Much research has shown the direct link between stress and health. A study appearing in the British Medical Journal in 2002 showed that workers in Britain who suffered from job stress or who perceived that their performance was not appreciated, were twice as likely to die of a heart attach or stroke, than those not reporting job stress or feeling unappreciated. Other studies have found a direct link between stress and fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, gastrointestinal diseases, cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and macular degeneration.
We now understand that stress also impacts cholesterol levels, platelet activation (causing heart attacks), and shortened life span. Mental stressors, such as loneliness, depression, depression and isolation, also are associated with serious illnesses and shortened lifespan. Since sleep disorders negatively impact the immune system and lifespan and since stress is one of the main causes of inability to fall and stay asleep, you can see the tremendous impact of stress on our health and longevity!
A DOZEN WAYS TO MASTER YOUR STRESS LEVELS
It is important to remember that occasional or low levels of stress may actually be protective of our health! So, totally eliminating our stress is not only impossible, but is probably not a good idea. It is the prolonged and severe stress that is the culprit.
The National Mental Health Association and the American Psychological Association offer many recommendations to prevent and master prolonged and overwhelming stress levels:
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