HealthWatch-Managing stress

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Published: Apr. 8, 2022 at 8:55 AM MDT
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There’s no way around it. Life can be stressful sometimes. But how do you keep stress from getting the upper hand? Doctor Kyle Larson from Creekside Medical Clinic has some ideas in this week’s edition of HealthWatch...

“April is National Stress Awareness Month so I wanted to take a minute to talk about the potential health consequences of prolonged stress and ways to manage your stress. Stress is a part of our daily lives, and some stress can be beneficial, but too much stress can wear you down and potentially lead to illness, both mentally and physically. When we experience stress, our body reacts in what is known as a “fight or flight” response. Chemical changes occur within our body and our heart rate quickens, breathing rate quickens, muscles tighten, and our blood pressure rises. In small doses and in the right context stress can help us complete tasks and respond to situations appropriately. However in prolonged doses, stress can cause emotional symptoms such as agitation, frustration, feeling overwhelmed, and feeling depressed. It can cause you to have racing thoughts, feel forgetful, have difficulty with focus, and can affect your judgment. It can cause a variety of long term health consequences including cardiovascular disease, skin and hair problems, and gastrointestinal problems. Luckily there are many ways to reduce your stress. Many of these are common sense, including getting enough sleep, and eating a healthy diet. Another key component is getting regular exercise. Research has shown that regular aerobic exercise reduces the levels of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, and increase the levels of endorphins in your system. These endorphins have been shown to increase feelings of relaxation and optimism, and are considered the body’s natural ‘pain killers’. A good goal is 150 minutes of exercise weekly. Of course if you have any chronic health conditions it’s best to chat with your doctor about what’s an appropriate goal for you. Finally, mindfulness is a great way to address stress. Mindfulness involves monitoring and attending to current experiences rather than dwelling on future or past events. There are a number of great apps to introduce yourself to mindfulness such as Calm or Headspace. Have a happy and safe April, and focus on reducing your stress. I’m Dr. Larson at Creekside Medical Clinic.”