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The purpose of this blog is to promote Health and Wellness. Our job as physicians is to do exactly this and improve the quality of life of everyone that we come into contact with.

The effects of stress: April is National Stress Awareness of Month, so it is fitting we talk about stress, the different levels of stress, and health implications.

Stress can have multiple meanings. According to the book, The Nature of Stress, stress is the experience of a perceived threat to one’s mental, physical, or spiritual well-being, resulting from a series of physiological responses and adaptations.

The American Institute of Stress and the American Psychological Association cites the following statistics from 2014

Stress is powerful and lots of people have chronic stress. Stress, like mental illness does not discriminate. Just recently (March 2018) I read an article from The Players’ Tribune by Kevin Love entitled “Everyone Is Going Through Something.” Kevin Love is a professional basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers and he opens up about having a panic attack in a game. The most important takeaway from his uplifting article is:

“Mental health isn’t just an athlete thing. What you do for a living doesn’t have to define who you are. This is an everyone thing. No matter what our circumstances, we’re all carrying around things that hurt — and they can hurt us if we keep them buried inside.”

Stress is a normal response to the demands and pressures we experience in life. Some stress can be helpful and motivate us to perform better, this kind of stress is known as eustress. Too much stress can be harmful and impact our ability to function. Below is an image that shows the relationship between performance and the amount of stress:

Stress management improves our ability to respond and reduce stress so our performance and health is not compromised. Sleep is just one effect from stress. Sleep helps us recover after a long day of hard work. However, most people carry this stress which affects their sleep. Progressive muscle relaxation and guided meditation are sometimes used to help people who have trouble sleeping. There are great YouTube videos or apps, such as Headspace, that can help with this. There are other health implications from stress that you should be aware of:

We here promote health and wellness, be it physical or mental. For those that are affected from stress that are overloaded and/or burnt-out, we recommend highly to seek assistance. I leave you with this final thought:

“In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.” - Mister Rogers

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