Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Stress

I have a favorite coffee mug these days. It says "I didn't survive cancer to die of stress".
It is true. I try to avoid stress at all costs these days. Ten years ago I was working downtown with a relatively high pressure job where my boss believed yelling at people and making people cry would motivate them.  I didn't like that, nor did I like the way my commute aligned with my  new husband's - he was home an hour and a half before me. I found a new less stressful job which was shortly followed by a  highly stressful cancer diagnosis.

Since then my health has been less than ideal and I have to live with the constant stress of new medical twists and turns every week (this week is an MRI and potential knee surgery). Stress started having a way of taking over my life as I focused on each stressor.

I learned to develop some support systems through support groups, online communities, writing (my blog), therapy, exercise and more. I try to do what relaxes me. I think while I am certainly not healthier, I am happier and less stressed.

Now doctors are catching on and prescribing stress management to patients and developing stress management practices. New research shows that 60-80% of ailments are caused by or exacerbated by stress. That is a scary number. I don't feel that my health issues were caused by stress but I do know if I am having an overwhelming day of stress, my aches and pains increase.

Medical centers are looking at offering everything from counseling, nutrition, meditation, yoga, tai chi, and more to help patients get their lives in balance. Everyone could try this by themselves, give yourself a five minute time out when stress starts taking over to close your eyes and relax and clear your mind. Or take a ten minute walk. Or join a gym, start a new exercise plan. Something besides sitting there and stressing.

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