More than twenty years ago, stress was the cover story in Time magazine. Stress was referred to as “The Epidemic of the Eighties” and it was referred to as the nation’s number one health problem. Flash forward to 2007. Results were released on December 12, 2007 from “Stress in America,” the American Psychological Association’s annual survey of stress in the general public in the U.S. The researchers interviewed 1848 adults 18 and over, and the interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish.

Seventy-nine percent of those surveyed believe that they cannot avoid stress and in the month prior to the survey, 77% of those surveyed experienced stress-related physical symptoms, including headaches, GI problems, and fatigue. Seventy-three percent admitted to emotional symptoms, including feeling nervous, lack of motivation, irritability, and anger. In addition, nearly half of Americans (43 percent) reported that stress negatively impacted their relationships with spouses or partners. A fourth of Americans believe that in the past five years, their personal relationships suffered because of stress .

STRESS AND YOUR BODY

Much research has shown the direct link between stress and health. A study appearing in the British Medical Journal in 2002 showed that workers in Britain who suffered from job stress or who perceived that their performance was not appreciated, were twice as likely to die of a heart attach or stroke, than those not reporting job stress or feeling unappreciated. Other studies have found a direct link between stress and fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, gastrointestinal diseases, cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and macular degeneration.

We now understand that stress also impacts cholesterol levels, platelet activation (causing heart attacks), and shortened life span. Mental stressors, such as loneliness, depression, depression and isolation, also are associated with serious illnesses and shortened lifespan. Since sleep disorders negatively impact the immune system and lifespan and since stress is one of the main causes of inability to fall and stay asleep, you can see the tremendous impact of stress on our health and longevity!

A DOZEN WAYS TO MASTER YOUR STRESS LEVELS

It is important to remember that occasional or low levels of stress may actually be protective of our health! So, totally eliminating our stress is not only impossible, but is probably not a good idea. It is the prolonged and severe stress that is the culprit.

The National Mental Health Association and the American Psychological Association offer many recommendations to prevent and master prolonged and overwhelming stress levels:

Become assertive and learn to say “no” to unreasonable time pressures and responsibilities.

Exercise regularly, engaging in aerobic activities

Build relaxation time into your life and enjoy your family, music or reading during those times

Have a relaxing hobby that you enjoy and give yourself permission to engage in it each week

Do one task at a time instead of multi-tasking

Use the power of visualization to picture yourself in relaxing and healthy pursuits

se imagery, meditation or self-hypnosis to imagine accomplishing your goals peacefully, while you let go of your stressors

Maintain good nutrition and diet to keep your body and mind healthy

Laugh each day, whether it’s from hearing or repeating jokes, watching funny videos or hanging around with funny people

Stay away from highly tensed, negative people

Get with and play with a pet each day

Get professional help if you still feel overwhelmed and stressed

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Jack Singer is a licensed Clinical, Sports and Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, author, trainer and consultant. His expertise includes a Doctorate in Industrial / Organizational Psychology and a Post-Doctorate in Clinical / Sports Psychology. Jack has been recognized with Diplomates from the American Academy of Behavioral Medicine, the Society of Police and Criminal Psychology, and he has been awarded with a special Diplomate in Sports Psychology from the National Institute of Sports Professionals. He has a special Certification in Clinical Hypnosis from the American Academy of Clinical Hypnosis and Jack has taught in the Psychology departments of seven universities, including four years as an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the U.S. Air Force Academy.