Is Stress Killing Us? ~ Dina Omar {Infographic}


There is a good reason why doctors refer to stress as the “silent killer.”

A lot of people say they don’t feel stressed, but their bodies are telling a different story.

People deny they’re stressed because they don’t know what stress is. They think it has something to do with hypertension, or perhaps with depression. And obviously it is related to these things—but it’s not synonymous with them.

Stress is simply anything that has a negative effect on your mental and physical well-being. Yes, really, that’s all it is. But make no mistake—just because it has a general definition, doesn’t mean its effects aren’t specific (and sometimes seriously devastating, as you can see in the infographic attached below).

There are four major sources of stress:

Your Surrounding Environment and everyday hassles, including long commutes, noise, pollution, etc.

Your Social Environment, such as problems at work, losing a job, exhausting meetings, deadlines, holidays, relationship problems, family problems, going through a divorce, or the loss of a loved one.

Your Physical Health: illness, aging, injuries, your lifestyle, not exercising enough, poor diet—all can have a serious toll on your body.

Your Mental Health, in the sense of your perceptions and how you interpret life’s challenges and how you respond to them, is also a major source of stress.

When stress remains unchecked, it becomes “chronic,” and it could lead to stress-related diseases…

The thing is, your immune system deals with stress itself as if it were a disease. So in response to it, it produces stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which result in high blood pressure (hypertension) and increased heart rate which leads to cardiac problems, etc.

In this infographic from BestTherapySchools.com, you can see how stress affects many parts of your body. Pay special attention to the myriad detrimental effects of high cortisol levels. Reducing those levels is a must in order to ensure continued health:




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Editorial Assistant: Judith Andersson / Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

Photo: elephant archives, BestTherapySchools.com

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Shirley0401 Feb 27, 2014 10:32am

This is a question I've been encouraged to see addressed more explicity lately.
Stress has always been with us, and always will. What a lot of people are starting to ask, though, is: what can we, as a society, do to keep the levels closer to what's healthy? You'll notice that at least three (arguably four or more) of the seven top causes listed can be pretty directly related to money. Another one, though it's harder to quantify, might be added, too: alienation. Which I think is related to people doing things contrary to what we've evolved to be good at doing. I'm not idealizing the brutish past, but I do think the stress felt by a low-level corporate cog who feels trapped by the demands of his modern life must be different from that felt by a hunter-gatherer who couldn't seem to find a bison. The bison could be over the next hill, while someone who's trapped in an alienating life that seems to dictate its own self-perpetuation can lose all hope.
I'm optimistic, though not what I'd call confident, that the increasing levels of stress (and the attendant anxiety/depression) in developed countries will begin to be treated as a symptom of larger issues, rather than a problem to be dealt with in isolation from the precipitating factors. If we look at it as a public health issue, rather than a personal struggle (or even moral failing), we might be able to address it more effectively.
I, for one, think if we had some sort of minimum needs guarantee (through direct aid, a minimum income, or something else entirely) that enabled people to address the causes of stress with reduced risk of adding to it (i.e. being able to quit an unreasonably stressful job without worrying about the stress of going hungry), we'd start to see some encouraging signs.

Kate Feb 24, 2014 6:05pm

For an enlightening talk on some positive stats on stress check out this TED video by Kelly McGonigal. http://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_m

Catherine Feb 24, 2014 12:55pm

This makes sense, but looking at the causes of stresses leads me to believe we will always have some kind of stress in our lives. I guess my question is, what’s the appropriate amount of stress? IS there an appropriate amount of stress? I don’t think everyone can never not be stressed…

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Dina Omar

Dina Omar is a certified Yoga teacher and instructor from Egypt, with a special interest in integrative, holistic approaches to physical and mental health. Coupled with her life-long passion for psychology and personal development, she continuously strives to design comprehensive programs to improve wellbeing and the quality of life, such as stress and pain management.

Her philosophy is that the body, mind and spirit are a functional unity, where each element requires due care and attention in order for a person to enjoy true fulfillment and the best quality of life. To that end, she adopts a holistic, integrated approach that combines solid principles from: Yoga Therapy (for physical improvement); effective techniques and practices from Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and other Mindfulness techniques, such as meditation (for optimum mental health and emotional wellbeing); creative guided imagery and visualization techniques (using the mind to impact the body); as well as progressive relaxation and hypnosis (using the body to influence and soothe the mind).

Connect with Dina on her Facebook Page.