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Stress the silent killer

Stress can cause severe physical injury or illness, but it also can take a toll on your job, finances and marriage. It’s a silent killer that no one seems to talk about. A response that alerts your body it’s under attack, causing it to prepare to take action- fight or flight. It causes specific hormones to spike, preparing the body to get away from danger. It’s a good thing when you actually are in danger (i.e. you need to run away from a bear), but what are the daily effects of stress on your body? And what are some common daily activities that cause stress?

Daily Stressful activities

Whether it’s a traffic jam, a fight with a teenage daughter, a volatile break-up or a boss that is never satisfied, mental stress can make us feel like we are constantly under a real threat. If you have certain health conditions like diabetes, stress may begin to affect your blood glucose levels. For instance, stress hormones may not only alter your blood glucose levels directly, they also may influence people to take less care of themselves. For example, it’s not unusual for high stressed individuals to drink more alcohol, exercise less or eat unhealthy foods.

Studies show diabetics mice have increased glucose levels

Studies in mice have determined that diabetic mice under physical or mental stress have elevated glucose levels. Results for humans, however, have been less conclusive. In one recent study researchers found that type 1 diabetics did have higher glucose levels when they experienced mental stress, but others had glucose levels which were lower. Physical stress, such as illness or injury, caused higher blood glucose levels in people with either type of diabetes.

So whether or not you have diabetes, which may or may not be affected by stress, we know stress can cause headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, chest pain, stomach aches, sleep problems, anxiety, irritability, anger, depression and social anxiety. Making modifications to reduce stress is important. What are some changes you can make to eliminate stress?

Reducing Stress

Start making changes today. If you have to drive in traffic each day, find out if you can modify your schedule, change jobs or car pool with a friend. There also might be public transportation available which allows you to get on the bus and pull out a good book and read.

Start an exercise program or join a sports team. Find a hobby that excites you and allows you to meet new people. Volunteer at a charity or hospital. Find new ways to cope with stress. Maybe the problem is not the situation but rather how you are dealing with it. Learn to relax. Whether it’s taking short naps, breathing deeply, meditating, or taking a long hot bath, learning to relax is beneficial to lowering stress.

Finally, stress may not be a reflection of situations around you, but rather simply the way you think about situations. Happiness is a choice. Choosing to reframe the way you think and react may also be a choice. Find a way to replace negative thoughts with positive ones and you may find your stress level decreasing.
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