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Which of these is stress?

  • You receive a promotion at work.
  • Your car has a flat tire.
  • You go to a fun party that lasts till 2:00 a.m.
  • Your dog gets sick.
  • Your new bedroom set is being delivered.
  • Your best friend and his wife come to stay at your house for a week.
  • You get a bad case of hay fever.
  • All of the above.

ALL OF THESE ARE STRESS

If you are used to thinking that stress is something that makes you worry, you have the wrong idea of stress. Stress is many different kinds of things: happy things, sad things, allergic things, physical things. Many people carry enormous stress loads and they do not even realize it!

WHAT IS STRESS?

We are all familiar with the word "stress". Stress is when you are worried about getting laid off your job, or worried about having enough money to pay your bills, or worried about your mother when the doctor says she may need an operation. In fact, to most of us, stress is synonymous with worry. If it is something that makes you worry, then it is stress.

Your body, however, has a much broader definition of stress. TO YOUR BODY, STRESS IS SYNONYMOUS WITH CHANGE. Anything that causes a change in your life causes stress. It doesn't matter if it is a "good" change, or a "bad" change, they are both stress. When you find your dream apartment and get ready to move, that is stress. If you break your leg, that is stress. Good or bad, if it is a CHANGE in your life, it is stress as far as your body is concerned.

Even IMAGINED CHANGE is stress. (Imagining changes is what we call "worrying".) If you fear that you will not have enough money to pay your rent, that is stress. If you worry that you may get fired, that is stress. If you think that you may receive a promotion at work, that is also stress (even though this would be a good change). Whether the event is good or bad, imagining changes in your life is stressful.

Anything that causes CHANGE IN YOUR DAILY ROUTINE is stressful.

Anything that causes CHANGE IN YOUR BODY HEALTH is stressful.

IMAGINED CHANGES are just as stressful as real changes.

Let us look at several types of stress -- ones that are so commonplace that you might not even realize that they are stressful.......

Emotional Stress

When arguments, disagreements, and conflicts cause CHANGES in your personal life -- that is stress.

Illness

Catching a cold, breaking an arm, a skin infection, a sore back, are all CHANGES in your body condition.

Pushing Your Body Too Hard

A major source of stress is overdriving yourself. If you are working (or partying) 16 hours a day, you will have reducedyour available time for rest. Sooner or later, the energy drain on your system will cause the body to fall behind in its repair work. There will not be enough time or energy for the body to fix broken cells, or replace used up brain neurotransmitters. CHANGES will occur in your body's internal environment. You will "hit thewall," "run out of gas". If you continue, permanent damage may be done. The body's fight to stay healthy in the face of the increased energy that your are expending is major stress.

Environmental Factors

Very hot or very cold climates can be stressful. Very high altitude may be a stress. Toxins or poisons are a stress. Each of these factors threatens to cause CHANGES in your body's internal environment.



The Special Case of Tobacco Use

Tobacco is a powerful toxin!! Smoking destroys cells that clean your trachea, bronchi, and lungs. Smoking causes emphysema and chronic bronchitis, which progress to slow suffocation. The carbon monoxide from cigarette smoking causes chronic carbon monoxide poisoning. Tobacco use damages the arteries in your body, causing insufficient blood supply to the brain, heart, and vital organs. Cigarette smoking increases the risk of cancer 50 fold.

Chewing tobacco or snuff is no safe haven. It also damages your arteries, and it carries the same cancer risk. (Cancers of the head and neck are particularly vicious, disfiguring, and deadly).

Poisoning the body with carbon monoxide, and causing the physical illnesses of emphysema, chronic bronchitis, cancer, and arterial damage, tobacco is a powerful source of added stress to one's life.

Hormonal Factors

PUBERTY

The vast hormonal changes of puberty are severe stressors. A person's body actually CHANGES shape, sexual organs begin to function, new hormones are released in large quantities. Puberty, as we all know, is very stressful.

PRE-MENSTRUAL SYNDROME

Once a woman passes puberty, her body is designed to function best in the presence of female hormones. For women past puberty, a lack of female hormones is a major stress on the body. Once a month, just prior to menstruation, a woman's hormone levels drop sharply. In many women, the stress of sharply falling hormones is enough to create a temporary OVERSTRESS. This temporary OVERSTRESS is popularly known as Pre MenstrualSyndrome (PMS).

POST-PARTUM

Following a pregnancy, hormone levels CHANGE dramatically. After a normal childbirth, or a miscarriage, some women may be thrown into OVERSTRESS by loss of the hormones of pregnancy.

MENOPAUSE

There is another time in a woman's life when hormone levels decline. This is the menopause. The decline in hormones during menopause is slow and steady. Nevertheless, this menopausal decline causes enough stress on the body to produce OVERSTRESS in many women.

Taking Responsibility for Another Person's Actions

When you take responsibility for another person's actions, CHANGES occur in your life over which you have little or no control. Taking responsibility for another person's actions is a major stressor.

Allergic Stress

Allergic reactions are a part of your body's natural defense mechanism. When confronted with a substance which your body considers toxic, your body will try to get rid of it, attack it, or somehow neutralize it. If it is something that lands in your nose, you might get a runny, sneezy nose. If it lands on your skin, you might get blistery skin. If you inhale it, you'll get wheezy lungs. If you eat it, you may break out in itchy red hives all over your body. Allergy is a definite stress, requiring large changes in energy expenditure on the part of your body's defense system to fight off what the body perceives as a dangerous attack by an outside toxin.

 

Your Stress Scale

In the following table you can look up representative changes in your life and see how much stress value each of these changes is adding to your life. NOTE ANY ITEM THAT YOU MAY HAVE EXPERIENCED IN THE LAST TWELVE MONTHS. Then, total up your score.

(Adapted from the "Social Readjustment Rating Scale" by Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe. This scale was first published in the "Journal of Psychosomatic Research", Copyright 1967, vol.II p. 214. It is used by permission of Pergamon Press Ltd.)

     STRESS                                          EVENT VALUES
 
1. DEATH OF SPOUSE                                           100
2. DIVORCE                                                    60
3. MENOPAUSE                                                  60
4. SEPARATION FROM LIVING PARTNER                             60
5. JAIL TERM OR PROBATION                                     60
6. DEATH OF CLOSE FAMILY MEMBER OTHER THAN SPOUSE             60
7. SERIOUS PERSONAL INJURY OR ILLNESS                         45
8. MARRIAGE OR ESTABLISHING LIFE PARTNERSHIP                  45
9 .FIRED AT WORK                                              45
10.MARITAL OR RELATIONSHIP RECONCILIATION                     40
11.RETIREMENT                                                 40
12.CHANGE IN HEALTH OF IMMEDIATE FAMILY MEMBER                40
13.WORK MORE THAN 40 HOURS PER WEEK                           35
14.PREGNANCY OR CAUSING PREGNANCY                             35
15.SEX DIFFICULTIES                                           35
16.GAIN OF NEW FAMILY MEMBER                                  35
17.BUSINESS OR WORK ROLE CHANGE                               35
18.CHANGE IN FINANCIAL STATE                                  35
19.DEATH OF A CLOSE FRIEND (not a family member)              30
20.CHANGE IN NUMBER OF ARGUMENTS WITH SPOUSE OR LIFE PARTNER  30
21.MORTGAGE OR LOAN FOR A MAJOR PURPOSE                       25
22.FORECLOSURE OF MORTGAGE OR LOAN                            25
23.SLEEP LESS THAN 8 HOURS PER NIGHT                          25
24.CHANGE IN RESPONSIBILITIES AT WORK                         25
25.TROUBLE WITH IN-LAWS,OR WITH CHILDREN                      25
26.OUTSTANDING PERSONAL ACHIEVEMENT                           25
27.SPOUSE BEGINS OR STOPS WORK                                20
28.BEGIN OR END SCHOOL                                        20
29.CHANGE IN LIVING CONDITIONS (visitors in the home,
   change in roommates, remodeling house)                     20
30.CHANGE IN PERSONAL HABITS (diet, exercise,
   smoking, etc.)                                             20
31.CHRONIC ALLERGIES                                          20
32.TROUBLE WITH BOSS                                          20
33.CHANGE IN WORK HOURS OR CONDITIONS                         15
34.MOVING TO NEW RESIDENCE                                    15
35.PRESENTLY IN PRE-MENSTRUAL PERIOD                          15
36.CHANGE IN SCHOOLS                                          15
37.CHANGE IN RELIGIOUS ACTIVITIES                             15
38.CHANGE IN SOCIAL ACTIVITIES (more or less than before)     15
39.MINOR FINANCIAL LOAN                                       10
40.CHANGE IN FREQUENCY OF FAMILY GET-TOGETHERS                10
41.VACATION                                                   10
42.PRESENTLY IN WINTER HOLIDAY SEASON                         10
43.MINOR VIOLATION OF THE LAW                                  5
 
TOTAL SCORE:_________________
 
 
STRESS SCALE FOR YOUTH
 
     STRESS                                               EVENT VALUES
 
1. DEATH OF SPOUSE, PARENT, BOYFRIEND/GIRLFRIEND              100
2. DIVORCE (of yourself or your parents)                       65 
3.  PUBERTY                                                    65
4. PREGNANCY (or causing pregnancy)                            65
5. MARITAL SEPARATION OR BREAKUP WITH 
   BOYFRIEND/GIRLFRIEND                                        60
6. JAIL TERM OR PROBATION                                      60
7. DEATH OF OTHER FAMILY MEMBER
   (other than spouse, parent or boyfriend/girlfriend)         60
8. BROKEN ENGAGEMENT                                           55
9. ENGAGEMENT                                                  50
10.SERIOUS PERSONAL INJURY OR ILLNESS                          45
11.MARRIAGE                                                    45
12.ENTERING COLLEGE OR BEGINNING NEXT LEVEL OF SCHOOL
   (starting junior high or high school)                       45
13.CHANGE IN INDEPENDENCE OR RESPONSIBILITY                    45
14.ANY DRUG AND/OR ALCOHOLIC USE                               45
15.FIRED AT WORK OR EXPELLED FROM SCHOOL                       45
16.CHANGE IN ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE                               45
17.RECONCILIATION WITH MATE, FAMILY OR
   BOYFRIEND/GIRLFRIEND (getting back together)                40
18.TROUBLE AT SCHOOL                                           40
19.SERIOUS HEALTH PROBLEM OF A FAMILY MEMBER                   40
20.WORKING WHILE ATTENDING SCHOOL                              35
21.WORKING MORE THAN 40 HOURS PER WEEK                         35
22.CHANGING COURSE OF STUDY                                    35
23.CHANGE IN FREQUENCY OF DATING                               35
24.SEXUAL ADJUSTMENT PROBLEMS (confusion of sexual
   identify)                                                   35
25.GAIN OF NEW FAMILY MEMBER
   (new baby born or parent remarries)                         35
26.CHANGE IN WORK RESPONSIBILITIES                             35
27.CHANGE IN FINANCIAL STATE                                   30
28.DEATH OF A CLOSE FRIEND (not a family member)               30
29.CHANGE TO A DIFFERENT KIND OF WORK                          30
30.CHANGE IN NUMBER OR ARGUMENTS WITH MATE, FAMILY
   OR FRIENDS                                                  30
31.SLEEP LESS THAN 8 HOURS PER NIGHT                           25
32.TROUBLE WITH IN-LAWS OR BOYFRIEND'S OR
   GIRLFRIEND'S FAMILY                                         25
33.OUTSTANDING PERSONAL ACHIEVEMENT
   (awards, grades, etc.)                                      25
34.MATE OR PARENTS START OR STOP WORKING                       20
35.BEGIN OR END SCHOOL                                         20
36.CHANGE IN LIVING CONDITIONS (visitors in the       
   home, remodeling house, change in roommates)                20
37.CHANGE IN PERSONAL HABITS (start or stop a habit
   like smoking or dieting)                                    20
38.CHRONIC ALLERGIES                                           20
39.TROUBLE WITH THE BOSS                                       20
40.CHANGE IN WORK HOURS                                        15
41.CHANGE IN RESIDENCE                                         15
42.CHANGE TO A NEW SCHOOL (other than graduation)              10
43.PRESENTLY IN PRE-MENSTRUAL PERIOD                           15
44.CHANGE IN RELIGIOUS ACTIVITY                                15
45.GOING IN DEBT (you or your family)                          10
46.CHANGE IN FREQUENCY OF FAMILY GATHERINGS                    10
47.VACATION                                                    10
48.PRESENTLY IN WINTER HOLIDAY SEASON                          10
49.MINOR VIOLATION OF THE LAW                                   5
 
TOTAL SCORE=_________________
 

We have asked you to look at the last twelve months of changes in your life. This may surprise you. It is crucial to understand, however, that a major change in your life has effects that carry over for long periods of time. It is like dropping a rock into a pond. After the initial splash, you will experience ripples of stress. And these ripples may continue in your life for at least a year.

So, if you have experienced total stress within the last twelve months of 250 or greater, even with normal stress tolerance, you may be OVERSTRESSED. Persons with Low Stress Tolerance may be OVERSTRESSED at levels as low as 150.

OVERSTRESS will make you sick. Carrying too heavy a stress load is like running your car engine past the red line; or leaving your toaster stuck in the "on" position; or running a nuclear reactor past maximum permissible power. Sooner or later, something will break, burnup, or melt down.

What breaks depends on where the weak links are in your physical body. And this is largely an inherited characteristic.

 

Here are the common "weak links", and the symptoms of their malfunction

 
Brain OVERSTRESS
Fatigue, aches and pains, crying spells, depression, anxiety attacks, sleep disturbance.
Gastrointestinal Tract
Ulcer, cramps and diarrhea, colitis, irritable bowel.
Glandular System
Thyroid gland malfunction.
Cardiovascular
High blood pressure, heart attack, abnormal heart beat, stroke.
Skin
Itchy skin rashes.
Immune System
Decreased resistance to infections and neoplasm.

We have known for a long time that OVERSTRESS could cause physical damage to the gastrointestinal tract, glandular system, skin or cardiovascular system. But only recently have we learned that OVERSTRESS actually causes physical changes in the brain. One of the most exciting medical advances of our decade has been an understanding of how OVERSTRESS physically affects your brain. We now know that the fatigue, aches and pains, crying spells, depression, anxiety attacks and sleep disturbances of OVERSTRESS are caused by brain CHEMICAL MALFUNCTION.





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