UNDERSTANDING STRESS

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Exactly what is stress? Most of us will immediately think of something that would cause us mental/emotional stress like our job, spouse, family or other relationships. Well, that is true but, stress can come in several different forms that we might not think about or are not consciously aware. Stress can be medically defined as a physical, chemical or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation. Things that promote stress reactions in the human body are called stressors. Some examples of environmental stressors are, excessive noise, crowding, colors, weather conditions especially hot and cold temperature extremes , natural disasters, war, seasonal changes, exposure to light especially while sleeping, length of light exposure during the day, excessive ultraviolet exposure from the sun, ionizing radiation such as x-rays, CT scan , or cosmic rays, or low level electromagnetic fields from computers, cell phones and other electrical devices. Some examples of physical stressors: accidents or injuries, surgeries, travel (jet-lag), disrupted sleep, excessive or lack of physical exercise, prolonged periods of work without breaks, menopause, menstruation, and infections. Some examples of chemical stressors: medications, toxins found in air, water and food, heavy metals, mold and mycotoxins, processed/junk food, blood sugar imbalance, imbalanced fats in our diet, food sensitivities, cigarette smoke, excessive alcohol, excessive caffeine and lack of proper nutrients. All of these can overload our bodies ability to detoxify and create stress. Lastly, mental, emotional and spiritual stressors: fear, anger, unforgiveness, helplessness, hopelessness, divorce, apathy, death of a loved one, depression, guilt, shame, loneliness, jealousy, hatred, worry, bitterness, watching the news, financial burdens and many others. The key is the ability to cope with events in life and the perception of situation that we are dealing with. All of these various stressors can lead to a concept of the “total load”. So the number of stressors and the perceived intensity contributes to a total stress load. Stressors also have a tendency to be accumulative over time if not dealt with properly. This can eventually lead to physiological dysfunction or a “cracking” of ones health. However, not all stress is bad as it can cause us to respond to situations appropriately or cause us to move forward towards a better place. Chronic unresolved stress is what leads to many of our health problems. The Foundation for Integrated Research in Mental Health found that globally, more than 3 out of 5 doctor visits are for stress related problems!

Understanding Stress