A close member of our family kept having health symptoms that were very troublesome he was convinced it was related to his heart as he experienced heart palpitations, a rushed sense of dread, difficulty breathing, cold sweaty hands. Stomach pain and heartburn also present lead on suspicion of an ulcer. Visits to the ER only produced momentary relief complemented with extremely costly bills.
ER we learned was not the place to get a diagnosis, these emergency help although expensive offered no long-term solution. This dire situation continued for a long time, until finally we sought the help of a doctor specialized in internal medicine specifically a Gastroenterologists.
After a series of lab tests which included an electrocardiogram, having a heart problem was out of the question, ulcer also was no issue. Additionally, the Gastroenterologists prescribed an endoscopy procedure to examine the lining of the Esophagus, stomach, and duodenum.
The heart was found in good condition and problem with an ulcer was eliminated. The doctor however found a condition showing ulcers in areas of the Esophagus lining.
After a lengthy consultation we learned this condition develops in individuals with an elevated level of stress. In other words, a physical reaction to stress.
I am sharing this experience as we consider the subject known as stress and demonstrate with this real-life example how stress harms our health.
The diagnosis was given and so it was the prescription: Make a conscious effort to manage the level of stress to reduce and eliminate the internal flare ups. Make lifestyle changes or the condition will not go away.
So, What is Stress?
While not all stress is harmful the stress that is, builds up because of living through and experiencing an uncomfortable situation. Something opposite to pleasant, comfortable, productive, creative. Something that causes emotional tension. The tension that burns on our shoulders or worse in our Esophagus lining.
This stress is very harmful to the body as we see how the high emotional tension brings on physical harm to our bodies.
There are two other type of stress we can identify as “eustress” and “distress.” Eustress described as “beneficial stress” either phycological or physical often of short-term duration, where emotions increase, and the body goes on self-demand mode. This is the kind of stress that increases dopamine. For example, the stress experienced in sports.
Distress creates the sensation of the inability to control a situation or circumstance bringing on anxiety, negativity, bad energy. However, it can also be short-term if dealt with appropriately and without delay. Long term distress could be very harmful to our bodies.
Learning Techniques to Manage Stress
We are forever evolving and learning techniques to help ourselves in this case, to help us manage stress.
There are professions that bring with it more levels of stress than others. For example, medical doctors, financial investors and traders, particular circumstances also can create this, like being unemployed, and going through financial hardship. However, even if you are not in one of these categories but nevertheless stress affects you, try doing this:
- Leave your workload at work, office, or business.
- Burn it at the gym, take a steam bath, jog, or walk.
- Relax by listening to your favourite type of music.
- Reduce or eliminate caffeine from your diet.
- Review to eliminate any foods irritant to your digestion.
- Maintain a satisfactory level of vitamins D, C, B12 and other supplements.
(Discuss it with your health care practitioner on your next visit)
- Whenever drive to the seashore and bathe yourself in sunshine and sea waves, let the marvellous ocean sounds soothe you
- Learn a new creative skill, you will be surprised how relaxing it can be, knitting, crocheting, drawing, or painting, or
- Learn to play a musical instrument – if it is relaxing and enjoyable.
Another option available to us when we feel stressed is to consider talking with a professional therapist with the training to teach you how overcoming stressful situations can and is possible.
Remember, that although we may not control our circumstances, we can learn how to react to them.
If we are alive and breathing stress does and will come. What is important is developing a strategy to stay on top of it and not let it overpower us causing poor health. We are a priority to ourselves in the good sense of the word, a priority because when we live healthy, we can project a healthy attitude inwardly that will reflect outwardly in positive ways.
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