Posted November 29, 2011
Stress. We have all felt it at different times in our lives. Stress can be a positive experience to help us get through tough situations, deadlines at school or work, health problems, or challenging situations with family or friends. Unfortunately, stress can turn negative when difficult experiences linger over a long period of time.
Prolonged stress can deepen existing medical diseases and ailments or create a variety of new health problems, such as headaches, upset stomach, chest pain, depression, tooth and gum disease, obesity, diabetes, hair loss, heart disease, ulcers, insomnia, cancer and high blood pressure. In an effort to relieve stress, people often turn to drugs, tobacco or alcohol, but ironically these substances often intensify stress and create more health concerns. Medical experts believe that 75 to 90 percent of doctor visits are for symptoms related to stress. And the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports paying out more than $300 billion annually for medical and emotional care for stress-related problems.
Identify Your Stress
Medical professionals have identified four types of stress that people experience:
- Eustress –A positive stress created when doing something exciting or challenging, such as chasing a deadline, making a presentation or participating in a race
- Acute – Usually produced during short-term stressful experiences that may be positive or negative
- Episodic acute stress – Experienced when living under constant pressure or chaos; behavior often becomes a way of life
- Chronic – Continuous stressful experiences that seem inescapable; often leads to burnout and health problems
Tips for Handling Stress
It’s a fact that stress is part of our daily lives. But it is important to deal with stress to maintain good emotional, physical and oral health. Consider these tips to help you keep stress under control:
- Relax – Train yourself to take deep breaths throughout the day; take a yoga or meditation class to help relax and release the stress from difficult experiences
- Invest time in yourself – Plan a special dinner, see a funny movie, prepare nutritious meals, get seven to eight hours of sleep each night and avoid smoking and consuming alcohol
- Exercise – Establish a regular fitness routine, exercising five to six days a week for at least 30 minutes each day