There's a reoccurring question I've been hearing a lot lately: "Is stress unhealthy?" Or "Does stress make you sick?" I'd like to go on the record to say that the jury is NOT still out on this question. Numerous studies in recent years have demonstrated the link between stress and sickness.
While acute stress, the "fight or flight" response, may serve to protect us from harm and injury or may positively motivate us to action, chronic stress is deleterious to our health. There is compelling evidence that chronic stress negatively impacts cells and organs throughout our body. Stress shows up in our bodies in different ways, none of them good: muscular tension, migraine headaches, anxiety, gastrointestinal disturbances, hypertension, and insomnia, to name just a few.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, two-thirds of office visits to family doctors are for stress-related symptoms. Thus, it is not surprising that stress related illnesses contribute significantly to healthcare costs.
While everyday life has its inherent ups and downs, we are living in incredibly challenging times. Many of us are oblivious to the toll that stress is taking on our bodies, while others choose to ignore it.
I'd like to offer you a few ideas on how to manage or reduce stress:
- Take 5. If you have only 5 minutes to spare or if you can't get outside, check out this short video that immerses you in a northern Minnesota forest as spring unfolds. Created by renowned nature photographer Craig Blacklock in collaboration with the Center for Spirituality & Healing, this unique video uses guided imagery paired with verbal prompts, music, and nature sounds to lead you through a series of stress reduction exercises.
You can choose to watch the video in one of three ways:
- while listening to verbal prompts, music, and nature sounds
- while listening to music and the sounds of nature only
- while listening to nature sounds only
After viewing, let us know what you think. We welcome your feedback. Please take this short survey to share your comments.
- If you work in or around the Twin Cities (St. Paul/Minneapolis) campuses, drop in for a free Stress-Busters session at noon on Tuesdays to learn how to practice meditation, yoga, qi gong and tai chi.
- Enroll in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course or program at the Center for Spirituality & Healing. Research on mindfulness training has demonstrated the benefits of meditation to combat stress, increase immune efficiency, and treat a number of specific illnesses.
- Get outside! Take a walk, run, or bike ride or sit on a park bench. Being in nature is healing—it slows us down and gives us time and space to think.
- Spend time with people you love and enjoy and who enrich your life.
Figure out what you can and cannot control in your life and start making changes that are life-giving and that will nurture your body, mind, and spirit. And finally, don't forget to take a deep breath and enjoy spring!