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This April, Shine The Light Of Awareness On Stress

Madeline Morris |
April 7, 2013 | 4:37 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter


No, don't bang your head. There are better ways, we swear (Flickr, Programwitch).
No, don't bang your head. There are better ways, we swear (Flickr, Programwitch).
America is no stranger to stress. We’ve never known La Dolce Vita and probably never will. It’s simply not how we roll. In fact, we don’t roll—rather, we charge (headfirst) into whatever’s next on the agenda. So in the Land of the Stressed where “busy” is everyone’s middle name, it’s important that we keeps tabs on exactly how this crazed lifestyle is affecting us. Enter April, National Stress Awareness Month. 

Most of us know stress isn’t exactly a good thing, but we tend to shoo away the notion that it causes real harm to both the mind and body. So do yourself a favor and keep reading to see what the latest research has to say about the menace we call stress. Information from the list below is obtained from two articles in The Huffington Post and the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.  

1. Stress actually shrinks the human brain. Stressful situations lead to a reduction of grey matter in regions tied to emotion and physiological functions, signaling future psychiatric problems.

2. Two brain regions that regulate emotion and stress are affected by living in an urban area. City dwellers have a greater lifetime risk for anxiety and mood disorders.

3. The first study to show a direct link between mortality and stress trajectories in an aging population shows that men who experience consistently high levels of stressful events over a period of years have a fifty percent higher mortality rate.

4. Too much work stress leads to an increased likelihood of suffering a heart attack, and for women in particular, an increased risk of developing diabetes. Another study finds that job stress accelerates aging. 

5. Millennials (people between the ages 18 and 33) are the most stressed of all Americans. The survey shows that job stability and work issues are the most likely causes of millennial stress.

6. The fight-or-flight response to stress is sometimes being replaced by what scientists call a “tend-and-befriend” response. As a consequence of stress, many turn to socialization for alleviation.

7. The outcome of a pregnancy could depend on how stressed a woman is. Researchers have found that stillbirth risk is 2.5 times higher for severely stressed women. 

8. Secondhand stress is real. Turns out, stress is as contagious as the common cold. 

9. Some stressful life events cause panic symptoms to increase slowly over time, rather than triggering an immediate panic attack.

10. Stress plays a role in drug relapse, but a study finds that it is possible to block a step that leads to a stress-induced relapse by identifying where exactly the relapse occurs in the brain. 

11. Mindfulness Meditation is one of the best weapons around for decreasing levels of stress hormones, or cortisol. Art therapy and mindfulness meditation is also proven to help decrease stress among people with breast cancer. This is especially important since stress can greatly affect survival levels of those with breast cancer.

12. People who believe that they are stressed have a higher heart disease risk than those that do not dwell on the topic. Also, people’s reactions to stress could seriously impact their future health; a study shows that those who are anxious or stressed about everyday life are more likely to develop heart problems, arthritis, and other chronic conditions later. Don’t sweat the small stuff!

13. Bringing your dog to work can boost employee satisfaction and lower stress levels. Your pooch ought to love this tip. 

14. Eating walnuts can help reduce stress. Their polyunsaturated fats influence blood pressure both at rest and under stress, so eat up!

15. Take a second to stop and smile. Yes, right now. You’ll thank me later—a genuine smile can help lower your heart rate, keeping you healthy and happy. 

Reach Reporter Madeline Morris here or follow her on Twitter here.



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