[ By Barbara Howard, contributing writer for Care2’s healthy and green living]
Are you a victim of stress?
We all go through life’s ups and downs, day after day. Daily stress is normal, to a point. We may not even be conscious of the stress we are under—some people actually become “numb” to it. But the dangers from stress are very real.
During ongoing stress or a “stress event,” your body becomes flooded with the stress hormones, adrenaline (leading to high blood pressure, burnout and adrenal gland depletion) and cortisol (leading to loss of bone mass, insomnia, ulcers, fat buildup in the middle and hips, and fat buildup in the arteries). Also released are catecholamines, which are neurotransmitters that deactivate the prefrontal cortex of the brain. This is one reason why you may have trouble concentrating, making decisions, planning, etc.
All of this compromises your immune system, so it’s harder to fight off that bug that is going around the office or that the kids bring home. You age faster, too, which means wrinkles, aches and pains, fatigue and more. Your body’s glands, organs and systems become compromised and depleted.
Take the Stress/Heart Health Quiz:
Do you worry all the time about your job or finances?
Are you under a lot of stress on the job and/or at home?
Do you have trouble focusing or concentrating?
Are you often lonely, sad, depressed, or angry?
Are you short tempered and irritable?
Are you tired all the time?
Do you have chronic head, back and neck aches?
Do you have unexplained weight gain around the middle?
Do you often feel overwhelmed?
Do you frequently catch a cold?
Do you have high blood pressure?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be experiencing the symptoms and side-effects of stress.
Important: The symptoms and harmful side-effects of stress are cumulative, meaning they build up and get worse over time.
What kind of stress are you under?
• Environment: Your physical surroundings, air pollution, noise pollution, toxins, etc.
• Family: Relationships with family members, caring for parents, spouses, or children who are ill or have special needs, romantic relationships
• Work: Overwork, disharmony at work, unrealistic deadlines, etc.
• Social: Financial pressures, unemployment, lack of support, etc.
• Inner: Overuse of drugs or alcohol, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, etc.
• High-stress events: Loss of loved one, loss of job, moving, divorce, etc.
Fact: Stress is linked to the six leading causes of death, including coronary heart disease.
In his book, Heart Sense for Women, world-renowned cardiologist, Dr. Stephen Sinatra writes, “A high-stress lifestyle is considered a risk factor for heart disease. Often, a sudden high-stress event, like divorce, loss of job, serious illness, death of a loved one or other emotionally traumatic events, can be a trigger for a heart attack.”