How to Reduce Stress

Prolonged stress can result in physical illness. Your body’s immune system, which is regulated in part by the brain, mobilizes defenses – such as white blood cells – against invading microbes and diseases. Upsetting emotions and stress can affect the immune system and this increases susceptibility to disease (Miller, Cohen & Ritchey 2002).

The study of links among behavior, stress, disease and our immune system is called Psychoneuro-Immunology (Daruna, 2004).

Health Through Happiness

Studies show that the immune system is weakened during major exam times. Immunity is also lowered by divorce, deaths, a troubled marriage, job loss, depression and similar stresses (Deinzer et al 2000). Lowered immunity explains why the “double whammy” of getting sick when you’re trying to cope with prolonged or severe stress is so common (Lyons & Chamberlain, 2006). Stress causes the body to release substances that increase inflammation. This is part of the body’s self-protection response to threats, but it can prolong infections and delay healing (Kiecolt-Glaser, 2002). It is worth noting again the value of positive emotions. Happiness, laughter and delight tend to strengthen the immune system responses. Doing things that make you happy can protect your health (Rosenkranz et al 2003).

Stress Reduction Fights Disease

Reducing stress can actually help prevent illness. Joining support groups, relaxation exercises, and stress management training can boost immune system function (Dougall & Baum, 2003). Evidence exists that stress management can improve the chances of survival following life-threatening diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and HIV/AIDS (Schneiderman et el, 2001).

Lack of Control = High Stress

Some events are likely to cause more stress than others. Studies show how unpredictability adds to stress pressure. Another element of stress, especially job stress, occurs when a person must meet urgent external demands or expectations (Wetten, 1998). The threat of injury or death, plus occasional confrontations with angry, drunk or hostile people can also be very stressful. We are particularly prone to feeling stressed when we can’t control our immediation situation. And stress is increased when we think we can’t reach desired goals.

The Ultimate in Stress

These are all everyday stresses, but how do we cope with extreme stress from war, violence or disasters? Traumatic experiences produce psychological injury or intense emotional pain. Victims of traumatic stresses, such as war, torture, rape, plane crashes, natural disasters or violence may suffer from nightmares, flashbacks, insomnia, irritability, nervousness, grief, emotional numbing and depression.

This report is not a diagnosis. We hope this information can guide you toward improving your life.

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