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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Can't Take Time to Relax? May 15, 2013

I was handed a flyer last week in a support group, written by Emma Haak, and published in this past February, which describes the consequences of stress on our bodies.

Our brains are the first place stress begins by setting off our 'fight-flight' alarm signal. Adrenaline and cortisol are produced which increase heart rate and blood pressure. All these are wonderful for short term escape from danger, but under constant stress these signals remain active and the higher cortisol level can increase the risk for depression, hypertension and even some cancers.

Stressed folks are about 40% more likely to develop Mild Cognitive Impairment too, because those same hormones(cortisol and adrenaline) may damage or shrink the hippocampus region of the brain, which is the place where memories are created and stored.

Heart attacks and strokes are 34% more likely if there is stress between spouses or long-term friends.

Stomach upsets are reported in 25% of people who live stressed-out lives because prolonged anxiety slows digestion. Our nervous systems direct  energy to the organs and muscles needed for survival, causing nausea, indigestion, constipation and bloating.

Fertility problems can also be aggravated by anxiety. A study showed that women undergoing IVF were 2.6 times as likely to be successful if they also participated in a stress-management program. 

For many of us, summertime can be a bit more relaxing, but caregivers are not relieved of their responsibilities  according to the school calendar or slow business seasons. We caregivers have to permit others to help us care for our loved ones who are physically disabled or who suffer from dementia, Alzheimer's disease or other life-limiting illnesses,whether by recruiting volunteers, family members, paid respite care workers or residential facilities. But stress relief we must find. Our health is in danger.

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