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Stress Less Before the Holiday Season

BlogStressFinalAs one of the busiest times of the year quickly approaches, many people begin to feel the effects of both personal and professional pressures. These causes of stress can be harmful to your health if not managed properly. Acute stress is short and intense in duration and impacts the central nervous system. Chronic stress lasts longer than 20 minutes and impacts the endocrine (hormonal) system. The human body is only designed to respond to acute stress – this is your “fight or flight” response. The body is not programmed to combat chronic stress, which is why those experiencing chronic stress often present health issues. Did you know…

  • 1/3 of people in the U.S. report experiencing extreme levels of stress
  • 1/5 report that they are experiencing high levels of stress 15 or more days per month
  • Stress keeps more than 40 percent of adults lying awake at night, according to American Psychological Association’s 2012 Stress in America™ survey

“Stress is part of life,” says Kenneth Cooper, MD, MPH, Founder and Chairman of Cooper Aerobics. Stress can increase your chance of suffering a heart attack and pose a serious threat to your health. But, “it’s not stress that kills, it’s the way you handle it,” Dr. Cooper notes.

Managing stress effectively can take many forms. It has been proven that a single session of 25-60 minutes of aerobic exercise increases positive mood feelings while also decreasing negative mood feelings. Additionally, eating healthy and nutritious foods can boost serotonin (the “happiness hormone”), folic acid and vitamins D and C. Taking time to breathe deeply, enjoy nature and go on vacation are other ways to combat the negative effects of stress.

Think you’ve got stress management down pat? Take our stress management quiz to find out!

  1. Can you identify the term referencing the science of laughter?
    a. Gelotology
    b. Laughotology
    c. Humorology
    d. Comedicology
  1. How can laughter and humor be beneficial to your health?
    a.They can decrease stress
    b. Laughter has some similarities to a brief workout (called “internal jogging”)
    c. Humor can help put your problems into a different perspective
    d. All of the above
  1. How can frequent or over-reactive anger be harmful to your health?
    a. “Anger-in” (internalized anger) can increase blood pressure and heart rate
    b. “Anger-out” (externalized anger) can damage relationships and social support, which are important stress buffers
    c. Both A and B
    d. Over-reactive anger can make you paranoid and anxious
  1. True or False? Being married is an important stress buffer.
  1. What is the term used when you experience too much stress?
    a. Overworked
    b. Distress
    c. Struggling
    d. Eustress

Answers: 1. A; 2. D; 3. C; 4. False: Not necessarily! A happy marriage is a great stress buffer, but being single is healthier than a bad marriage, which can increase unhealthy stress.; 5. B

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