Posts Tagged ‘stress management’

Are You Managing Your Stress? 5 Ways to Feel Better, Be Healthy

Stress is part of everyday life. In fact, the right amount of stress can help us in our jobs to make decisions and to meet a goal. But when stress is constant and lasts for days or weeks, it can have a serious impact on our health. And that’s the type of stress that concerns health care professionals.

How is Stress Bad for the Body?

A Gallup poll found that eight in 10 Americans are frequently or sometimes stressed in their daily lives.

Stress causes a physical and emotional reaction in our bodies: The nervous system releases hormones, including cortisol, that trigger the “flight or fight” response. Usually, this response is short-term. Your heartbeat increases, breathing gets faster, muscles tense and you may start to sweat.

But, when you stay stressed over a long period of time, the release of those hormones can impact your health. Prolonged stress can cause:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Fertility problems
  • Frequent headaches
  • Heart attack
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Upset stomach
  • Weight gain or loss

What are Common Causes of Stress?

Everyone has different stress triggers (situations or events that cause stress). The American Psychological Association’s (APA) 2017 Stress in America poll found:

  • The future of our nation stresses 63 percent of Americans.
  • Money stresses 62 percent of Americans.
  • Work stresses 61 percent of Americans.
  • The current political climate stresses 57 percent of Americans.
  • Violence and crime stresses 51 percent of Americans.
  • Traffic is a major source of stress, especially around major metropolitan cities.

A follow-up report from the APA also found that 66 percent of Americans are stressed by the cost of healthcare and insurance.

One study found the longer a person’s commute to work, the higher their blood pressure and body mass index were.

How Can I Manage My Stress?

Stress management is an important way to improve your health and avoid serious implications of long-term stress. Just as everyone has different stress triggers, everyone also responds differently to different stress management techniques.

Five easy and effective ways to manage stress include:

1. Take care of yourself

Regular physical activity and healthy eating can help your body fight stress hormones and lower your blood pressure. High blood pressure is a common side effect of stress and can cause long-term damage to your heart, as well as increase your risk of heart attack. Next time you’re feeling stressed or feel your blood pressure rise, take a break from what you’re doing to go for a quick walk, or grab a healthy snack, or take a longer relaxing walk.

2. Practice mindfulness

Simply speaking, mindfulness is when you’re fully present. When stressed, that means calmly acknowledging how you feel and working to identify what’s causing your feelings of stress or anxiety. Once you identify the source of your stress, you can accept your feelings and work toward a solution that will help you feel better. This may include taking a break from what you’re doing, meditating or speaking with a family member or friend.

3. Get enough sleep

The APA’s 2013 stress report found that adults who had less than 8 hours of sleep felt more stressed than those who had at least 8 hours of shut-eye. Make a consistent bedtime routine, including getting to bed at the same time every night and plan for at least 8 hours of sleep to help you feel better and more rested. Avoid screen time (television, computer or telephone screens) at least 1 hour prior to bedtime to help get to sleep faster.

4. Tracking spending

Money and finances are a common cause of stress. Empower yourself by understanding where your money is going. Make a budget and track your spending to take control of finances and reduce your stress.

5. Stretch

Simple stretches throughout the day are a great way to take a break from stressors of work or daily life and re-center your mind and body. Stretch your legs, arms, back or neck at least once an hour and see what a difference it can make.

Feeling Stressed? Talk to Someone

If you’re experiencing chronic stress, talk to a trusted friend or family member. It can often help to share your worries and concerns with a loved one who can offer perspective and provide insight on how you can better manage your stress, workload or concerns.

Schedule an appointment with your primary care provider to discuss any physical or emotional concerns you may have. Your provider can complete a comprehensive physical that monitors your blood pressure, along with other screenings, to learn how stress has impacted your health. Your provider may also refer you to a therapist or psychologist to help you better manage stress. Find a provider near you by visiting Emory Healthcare online.

Emory Healthcare

At Emory Healthcare, we’re here to help you find the care you need, when you need it. With more than 2,000 doctors and 300 locations, including six hospitals, primary care offices, urgent cares and MinuteClinics, we’re delivering specialized care across the region. Find a doctor near you to help you get and stay healthy.

About Dr. Collins

Caroline Jones Collins, MD, joined Emory at Peachtree Hills in January 2018. Dr. Collins grew up in Snellville, GA, and gained her bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from the University of Georgia. She attended Emory University for both medical school and her internal medicine residency. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and their two children. Dr. Collins is passionate about preventive health and helping patients live healthy, happy lives.

 

 

Takeaways from Dr. Bergquist’s Live Chat on Stress Management

stress-cil-638Thanks to everyone who attended our live chat, “Managing Your Stress,” Tuesday, Dec. 22, with Sharon Horesh Bergquist, MD, who serves as Emory Healthcare Network primary care physician and associate professor with the Emory University School of Medicine.

Dr. Bergquist fielded some great questions on a range of topics, including:

  • Stress and its relationship to autoimmune disorders
  • Stress effects on aging
  • Anxiety attacks
  • Best stress-relieving activities
  • Managing grief during the holidays
  • Good stress and how to make stress work for you
  • The effects of stress on migraines
  • How your primary care physician can help you manage stress

If you didn’t get a chance to join us, read the full transcript from “Managing Your Stress” here.

Two questions didn’t get answered during the live chat, so we’re sharing them here, along with Dr. Bergquist’s responses:

Question: Are other SSRIs as effective as fluoxetine for treating SAD?

Answer: SAD can stand for social anxiety disorder as well as seasonal affective disorder, so I wasn’t sure which one is being asked here.

For social anxiety disorder, the SSRI paroxetine and the SNRI venlafaxine are effective. Older drugs from a family called MAO inhibitors, such as phenelzine can also be used.

Seasonal affective disorder, a seasonal pattern of recurrent depression in fall or winter months, can affect 1.5% to 9% of people. It is typically treated with antidepressants, light therapy or psychotherapy.

There are actually very few high quality studies looking at the best anti-depressant for seasonal affective disorder, and there is virtually no data comparing SSRIs for treating SAD. The data is limited to studies on fluoxetine compared to placebo (in which fluoxetine shows a non-significant benefit) and fluoxetine compared to light therapy (it is nearly equivalent). Other SSRIs are commonly used in practice for SAD but there is little data to know if they are effective.

A recent review on the topic found bupropion XL to be an effective alternative for preventing recurrences of SAD (but even here it was effective at best in a small percent of people, around 20%).

Question: Due to psychoneuroimmunology, if a person has cancer, does distress increase the risk of cancer recurrence?

Answer: A relationship between stress and cancer progression has long been suspected. Recently, through animal cancer models, we are learning that the molecular link between the two may be through the beta-adrenergic signaling pathway which mediates the sympathetic nervous system induced fight-or-flight response.

Stress, through the beta-adrenergic pathway, may contribute to the progression and metastasis of a cancer . (Immune mediated macrophages can infiltrate some tumors such as breast cancer and, like a switch, induce pro-metastatic genes to be expressed.)

The stress hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine can attach and turn on receptors on tumor cells to control a variety of function involved in progression, such as proliferation, migration and invasion. Yet, little research is available to answer the question about whether distress can increase cancer recurrence.

Dr. Bergquist is an Emory Clinic Primary Care Physician and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. Her expertise includes healthy aging, heart disease prevention and management, women’s health, diabetes, nutrition and obesity counseling and treatment of mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression. She has appeared in over a hundred health segments, including Good Morning America, Fox New Network, CNN and Fox 5, has served as an editorial consultant for WebMD and wrote the TED Ed Lesson, “How Stress Affects Your Body.”

Below we have also highlighted some questions that were asked during our live chat.

Question: It’s been said that a certain amount of stress is good. How does a person maintain a good level of stress without tipping over into chronic debilitating stress?”

Short-term stress is advantageous—not only can it help us perform our best but even supports resilience at a cellular level. Stress becomes debilitating or “toxic” when it is prolonged or recurrent, such as worrying about a sick child or finances. The interaction between stress hormones and the hormones and immune cells, among others, throughout our bodies are responsible for both the good and adverse effects.

Question: How does stress affect aging?

Stress has been associated with decreasing longevity and shortened telomeres. These are the shoelace tips at the ends of chromosomes that allow DNA to get copied every time a cell divides without damaging the cell’s genetic code. With each cell division , telomeres shorten until a cell eventually dies. Stress accelerates this process.

In one study done on mothers who were either caregivers of healthy children or children who were chronically ill, the women who felt the most perceived stress had telomeres that were shorter on average by the equivalent of a decade of aging compared to mothers that felt the least stressed.
How much does exercise really help with stress?

Exercise is one of the most effective ways to manage stress. Exercise can reduce cortisol, which is otherwise known as the “stress hormone”. Exercise can also improve other neuroendocrine changes that take place from chronic stress, and it can reduce the immune system mediated damaging inflammation that occurs from chronic stress.

Question: Mindfulness- what does this mean and what role does in play in stress management?

Mindfulness is actively focusing on the present, and observing your moment to moment thoughts and emotions without passing judgment on them. It’s the opposite of being mindless. Mindfulness has become a widely used way of reducing stress, helping with concentration and focus, increasing compassion and self-awareness, and controlling emotions.

Question: Can a certain diet affect your stress levels?

Omega 3 fatty acids are vital for proper nerve function. A diet that is high in omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids can exacerbate the chronic inflammation that can be triggered by chronic stress and can adversely affect brain function. . Refined carbohydrates, such as sugar, can cause a spike and then a drop in your blood sugar level. People can feel irritable when their blood sugar drops. B vitamins, zinc, and magnesium are necessary in sufficient amount to support our brain chemicals. There is also a lot of research linking gut bacterial balance and brain health. Fiber rich foods support a healthy gut while sugar, fat, and processed food can disrupt gut bacterial balance.

To view the entire chat transcript click here.

Managing Your Stress Live Chat on December 22nd

stress-chatThe holiday season is in full swing, and there’s no better time to think about stress management. In short spurts, stress is actually helpful and can propel us through a tough situation or help us react quickly to avoid one. However, prolonged or severe stress may trigger physical, psychological and emotional reactions that can lead to health problems or worsen existing ones.

On Tuesday, December 22, 2015 from noon to 1pm EST join Emory Healthcare Network’s Sharon Horesh Bergquist, MD for an interactive web chat on Stress Management. Sign up, send questions and learn about

  • Symptoms of stress
  • Long-term effects of stress on your health and body and
  • Techniques for reducing stress

sign-up2

About Dr. Bergquist

avatar-horesh-bergquist-sharonDr. Bergquist is an Emory Clinic Primary Care Physician and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. Her expertise includes healthy aging, heart disease prevention and management, women’s health, diabetes, nutrition and obesity counseling and treatment of mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression. She has appeared in over a hundred health segments, including Good Morning America, Fox New Network, CNN and Fox 5, has served as an editorial consultant for WebMD and wrote the TED Ed Lesson, “How Stress Affects Your Body.”