Stress is Risky Business: Learn how to decrease stress levels & improve or save your life!
Do you know about these serious consequences and symptoms of chronic stress:
· Smaller brain volume (in the hippocampus, the memory center of the brain), and diminished memory
· Increased risk for Alzheimer’s Disease
· Increased neuronal plaques and dendritic tangles (sounds bad—it IS bad…)
· Increased risk of type II (“adult-onset”) diabetes
· Increased risk of metabolic syndrome
· Greatly diminished immune system strength and function
· Greatly diminished adrenal gland function and reserve
What can you do about a situation involving chronic stress and anxiety?
Consider these stress-reduction tips:
· Mindfulness-based, or “insight” meditation is a wonderful technique to enable you to de-stress and learn to act, rather than react. Just “Google” the words “mindfulness-based meditation,” “insight meditation,” or “mindfulness based stress reduction” for classes and centers near you. If you are in the greater Sacramento area, access www.sactoinsight.com. · It may be time to re-evaluate your job, your relationship, all that you’re doing for your kids, the relationship with that “so-needy” friend who will never really change, etc.
· Good herbal remedies for stress: l-theanine (100 mg AM and PM); 5-HTP (50 mg AM and100mg at bedtime); an acai-based juice such as MonaVie; Co-Q 10 (60-100 mg/day); hormonal support with DHEA, Pregnenalone, progesterone, and possibly adrenal fractions.
· Exercise…exercise…exercise! Remember—exercise may not always be fun, but it is a “job” that must be done.
Is the menopausal transition stressful?
Recently published results from the Seattle Midlife Women’s Health Study (and data from the Study of Women and Health Across the Nation “SWAN”) indicate that there is not a dramatic increase in perceived stress during this period in a woman’s life, but that factors that have been related to perceived stress among women during earlier periods of the lifespan were important predictors of stress during the menopausal transition. Among these were employment, family relationships (husbands, children, losses through death and divorce), and financial stressors. Sources of stress include children’s health, parenting, relationships with partner/family members, caring for a sick or elderly relative, combining work and parenting, lack of time for oneself, insufficient money, possible unemployment, lack of self-confidence and lack of sleep.
“Trying to be everything everyone wanted them to be” and “putting out for others but receiving little in return” are linked to high stress levels. For contemporary women, role burden, and lack of support seem to play roles in precipitating stress.
The bottom line? Women who have access to support from their partners experience less stress. Employment issues appear to lead to perceived stress. Stress management techniques such as mindfulness-based meditation, exercise, yoga and counseling are important mediators of stress.
(**Thanks to Nancy Fugate Woods, PhD, R.N., and Ellen Sullivan Mitchell, PhD, of University of Washington School of Nursing for the ideas expressed in these last 2 paragraphs…)