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We all experience stress.Experts say how we deal with illness is key to our health

We all experience stress.Experts say how we deal with illness is key to our health


dose24:36What is the relationship between stress and my health and happiness?

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It might be the morning traffic jam. Work deadline. Conflict with family. Caring for children and elderly parents.

Stressful situations are all around us, and experts say how we manage stress is key to preventing it from causing long-term health problems. Masu. Both physically and mentally.

While short-term stress doesn't have to be negative, research shows that ongoing stress can wear down your body's systems and lead to symptoms such as: increased risk of heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetesand mental health challenges.

“It's like walking around with a 10- or 15-pound weight on your back all the time and not being able to shed that weight,” says psychologist Zindel Segal, Ph.D. told CBC host Dr. Brian Goldman. dose.

However, there are techniques and strategies to reduce that stress load and lessen the effects of stress on the body and mind.

Is stress good or bad?

Dr. Eli Puterman, a health psychologist and associate professor in UBC's Department of Kinesiology, said stress means the inability to draw on personal or social resources to meet the demands placed on us.

But not all stress is bad stress, Pouterman says.

“Sometimes it motivates you to go in the direction of, 'Let's change our goals,'” he says.

Segal, a distinguished professor of psychology and mood disorders at the University of Toronto Scarborough, said that from an evolutionary perspective, our bodies are designed to handle stress.

However, after a stress response, a period of rest and recovery is necessary. This allows the body to regain resources depleted during stressful situations.

Chronic stress is when we can't escape the situation and take advantage of our own natural recovery abilities, Segal says.

This is a system that “remains in 5th gear without being able to downshift.”

connect with the senses

The first step to managing stress is recognizing it, Segal says, and that means being in tune with our bodies.

“Do you notice your heart racing, your palms sweating, your temples and forehead pounding?” he said.

Grounding techniques can help anchor us in the present moment, pull us away from intrusive thoughts and emotions, and help us see the bigger picture of a situation, Segal says.

An Asian woman is sitting cross-legged in the forest with her hands on her knees and her eyes closed.
Deep breathing and meditation can both help calm your senses during stressful moments. (Maggie McPherson/CBC)

“One of the things we've lost the ability to connect with is the world of the senses,” he says, which is why many stress management techniques aim to reconnect with the senses.

“Sensation is a way that really helps us get out of our thoughts and ground ourselves.”

a breath of fresh air

Yoga, meditation, exercise, and deep breathing can all help ground us and change the way we view stress, Segal says.

But stress can create a barrier to physical activity, so Puterman said she prefers to think about physical activity instead of exercise.

“You can take moments to take care of your body by getting outside and taking a 10- to 15-minute walk a day,” he said.

Listen | Try a guided box breathing exercise with Dr. Jinder Segal.

dose1:50Box Breathing Guided Exercises

One simple exercise that Segal recommends is to A technique called box breathing. Here's how you can try it:

  • Sit in a chair and notice how you feel while sitting. The feet are pressed against the floor and the hands are folded on the knees or thighs.
  • Breathe in for 4 beats (visualize the left side of the box).
  • Continue for 4 beats (visualize the top of the box).
  • Exhale for 4 beats (visualize the right side of the box).
  • Continue for 4 beats (visualize the bottom of the box).
  • Repeat as many times as you like.

Effects of stress on the body

It may be easy to understand how stress can cause emotional and mental damage, but research also shows that stress can affect our physical health. . Increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

“In the short term, it can cause a sudden rise in blood pressure and cause plaques in the arteries to rupture, which can then lead to heart attacks and strokes,” said cardiologist Dr. Hassan Mir. Ottawa Heart Institute.

When we are stressed, it activates our activity. sympathetic nervous systemthe part of the nervous system that transmits signals related to our fight-or-flight response.

That can cause an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, Mir says.

Another reaction to acute stress is a condition called . Takotsubo cardiomyopathyor weakening of the heart muscle, he said.

“When you're really stressed, your body can release adrenaline,” says Mill.

clock / You can't avoid stress, but you can learn how to deal with it.

Stress can cause long-term health effects: 'It all depends on how you cope,' says psychologist

Mill has seen people come to the hospital because their partner went into cardiac arrest, only to be suddenly rushed to the ER because it appeared they were having a heart attack.

“When you look inside, the coronary arteries look completely normal, but the heart muscle looks completely weakened,” Mill said.

When stress activates the sympathetic nervous system too often, it can cause other problems in the body, Pewterman says.

“If you're starting to change your baseline physiology, you're going into a state where there's too much cortisol and you're releasing too much glucose,” he says.

When too much glucose is released into the body, a person Pre-diabetic conditionPewterman said.

How much stress is too much?

Puterman said a theory called the “inoculation hypothesis” suggests that a little bit of stress may help people cope with more stressful events in the future.

“Any kind of daily or life stress actually makes you more likely to be exposed to stressors in the future,” he said.

But there are some tell-tale signs that the stress you're experiencing is causing harmful effects, Puterman says. They include:

  • I can't sleep well.
  • I don't get enough exercise as usual.
  • Increased intake of alcohol and drugs.
  • socially withdraw from others.
  • More arguments with family and friends.

The trick, Segal says, is finding the sweet spot between enough stress and too much stress.

“We don't want the stress we're facing to become overwhelming,” Segal said.




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