Stress, anxiety, nervousness, uncertainty, confusion, and chaos shatter your attention and interfere with your energy flow. Energy that could be available to better coordinate thoughts or movements is often wasted on fruitless mental agitation. Many times we can’t think straight. Thoughts flow through our minds at hyper-speed and it’s impossible to focus on just one. Some people refer to this as having a “monkey mind.” Does this sound like you?
Stress also shatters our nerves. Our emotions may run rampant from edginess to frustration, to anger, to disappointment, despair, sadness, and depression. We start to feel helpless and hopeless. It becomes an ever-downward cycle of negative thoughts and emotions.
Long-term exposure to unresolved stress is debilitating and destroys our health. It is now estimated that stress is responsible for 86-95% of all diseases in the US. Consequences of long-term exposure to stress include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, susceptibility to infections, disorders of the immune system, cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, peptic ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease, excessive and unexplained weight gain or loss, chronic pain, especially in the back, neck, head, and shoulders, tension and sinus headaches, migraines, sleep disorders, diminished sexual desire, erectile dysfunction in men, more severe pms in women, panic attacks, anxiety, depression, an inability to manage emotions, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, sleep disorders, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, ADD/ADHD, nightmares, flashbacks, excessive fear, prolonged sadness, rage, test anxiety, stage fright, and performance anxiety. Stress has also been linked to allergies, asthma, skin disorders, unexplained hair loss, and periodontal disease. Even alcoholism and drug abuse have been linked to prolonged consistent exposure to stress. And the list goes on. Has your health been affected by stress? Do you suffer from any of the maladies listed here? Don’t despair. You can do something about it.
While we may not be able to eliminate the situations that cause stress we can learn to react differently and keep stress from destroying our health, happiness, productivity, and success in all life endeavors. To do so we must first learn what stress is, how we respond to stressful situations, and how it affects us. Then we must use methods and techniques that deal with stress as it is occurring and over the long term. Because stress affects all aspects of the human experience, we must take a holistic approach to combating its destructive effects.
In future blogs I will discuss each of the factors listed above and provide information and methods for eliminating stress’s destructive effects. Until next time, just breathe as deeply and as slowly as you can for several minutes when stress rears its ugly head.