Stress is by far the most common cause of ill health in our society and may be the underlying cause of as many as 70-80 per cent of all visits to family doctors. It is also the problem that every doctor shares with patients. Experts note that stress is an issue everyone can relate to experimentally. In studying and better understanding about stress, we can derive personal as well as professional benefits.
Stress can be overcome without undergoing duress. They often say anyone who wants to help someone deal with his/her stress should learn to handle his/her first. The manifestation of stress is legion. It can contribute or mimic just about any symptom you can think of. However, the main symptoms are physical, mental, emotional and behavioural. The cause of stress are multiple and varied but they can be classified into external and internal. External stressors can include relatively getting sick or dying, jobs being lost or people criticizing or one becoming angry. However, most of the stress people experience is self-generated.
Experts tell us that we create the majority of our upsets indicating that because we cause most of our own stress, we can do something about it. This gives us a measure of choice and control that we do not always have when outside forces act on us. This also leads to a basic premise about stress reduction. To master stress-change, you have to figure out what you are doing that is contributing to your problems and change it. These changes fall into behaviour, thinking, lifestyle choices and/ or situations you are in. by getting to the root causes of your stress, you can prevent recurrences.
As a way of draining off stress energy, nothing beats aerobic exercise. To understand why, we need to review what stress is. People often think of stress as pressure at work, a demanding boss, a sick child or rush-hour traffic. These may be trigger but stress is actually the body reaction to factors such as these. Stress is the fight-or-fight response in the body, mediated by adrenaline and other stress hormones and comprised such physiologic changes as increased heart rate and blood pressure, faster breathing, muscle tension, dilated pupils, dry mouth and increased blood sugar. In other words, stress is the state of increased arousal necessary for an organism to defend itself at a time of danger.
Exercise is the most logical way to dissipate the excess energy. It is what our bodies are trying to do when we pace around or tap our legs and fingers. It is much better to channel it into a more complete form of exercise like a brisk walk, a run, a bike ride, or a game of squash.
Just as we are all capable of mounting up and sustaining a stress reaction, we have also inherited the ability to put our bodies into a state of deep relaxation called the relaxation response. In this state, all the physiologic events in the stress reaction are reversed. Pulse slows, blood pressure falls, breathing slows and muscles relax.