SCRIPT NUMBER 111 STRESS MANAGEMENT - 2 (TWO SPEAKERS)

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1 SCRIPT NUMBER 111 STRESS MANAGEMENT - 2 (TWO SPEAKERS) PROGRAM NAME: HEALTH NUGGETS PROGRAM TITLE: STRESS MANAGEMENT - 2 PROGRAM NUMBER: 111 SUBJECT: EFFECTS OF CHRONIC STRESS ON HEALTH, STRESS MANAGEMENT KEY WORDS: STRESS REACTION, RELAXATION TECHNIQUES, SPIRITUALITY, SUPPORT SYSTEMS DATE OF SCRIPT: MAY 10, 2013 AUTHOR: RICHARD YUKL, MD, FACS Ning is a young mother whose life is anything but the tranquility her name implies. She has two small children to care for as well as aging parents, both of whom have come to live in her home. Stress is a daily factor in Ning s life. Now, to add to her stress, her husband lost his job. How can she keep up with all of the demands of her life? Does she have the strength to continue being the caregiver for everyone in her world? Where will she find someone who can support her? Where will the money needed to run her home come from?

2 Today, we want to talk about a condition that is damaging to the health of many of our listeners around the world. We want to talk about chronic stress and how we can manage it more effectively. Ning, in the story you presented is obviously under stress, but how would you define stress? Stress is a normal reaction to the threats and demands of life. God created our brain with an alarm system designed to protect us from danger. When our brain recognizes a threat, that alarm system causes our body to release protective chemicals it mobilizes our stress reaction. Once the threat is gone, the body is meant to return to a normal, relaxed state. Unfortunately, the nonstop demands of modern life result in an alarm system that rarely shuts off. The results of long-term, uninterrupted stress include such damaging health effects as high blood pressure, a lowered ability to fight infections, an increased risk of heart attacks and stroke, infertility and premature aging. It can also worsen existing problems such as pain, sleep problems, depression and obesity. What can I do to manage the stress I feel? The first step is to admit that your stress level is high enough to require some changes. The next step is to identify the causes of your stress. Some obvious causes are relationship problems or financial difficulties. But, the

3 demands of everyday life can also raise one s stress level demands such as being over-committed at work, or simply traveling to work. Even positive events such as getting married, starting a new job or buying a house can trigger high stress levels. Once I recognize my need for change and the sources of my stress, what do I do? Successful management requires both physical and mental relaxation. Your goal is to enjoy the moment in which you are living rather than being worried about what might happen in the future. Literally hundreds of relaxation techniques that can help you focus your attention on the present are available. The relaxation techniques that are effective for you will slow your breathing, slow your heart rate, lower your blood pressure and reduce your muscle tension and chronic pain. An example of an at-home technique that is effective for many is progressive muscle relaxation. Muscle groups are tightened and then relaxed one after another in sessions lasting minutes every day. Your stress is reduced because mental relaxation is a natural outcome of physical relaxation. Another simple relaxation technique is walking outdoors every day. More formal relaxation techniques include such things as meditation, tai chi and yoga.

4 Give me other examples of stress management techniques that people find successful. Become more spiritual. Pursuing a spiritual life helps to bring order to your life. It defines your personal values and the meaning of your life. For many, becoming more spiritual takes the form of a belief in God, prayer, meditation and attending religious services. However, it can also be found through developing an appreciation for nature, music or the arts. As spirituality uncovers what s truly meaningful in your life, it helps manage stress by allowing you to worry less about the unimportant things that distract you. How can I become more spiritual? How can I find the meaning in my life? Set aside a day of rest every week as a time of rest from your daily pressures - a day such as the Biblically prescribed Sabbath Day. That will allow you time to physically relax. Pray or meditate to help focus your thoughts on what is important in your life, and keep a journal to help express your feelings and record your progress. Also, seek out a trusted friend who can help you to uncover what s important in your life. Others may have insights that you haven t yet discovered. Read inspirational stories such as those found in the Bible, and talk to others whose spiritual lives you admire, asking them questions to learn how they found their way to a fulfilling life.

5 How can Ning in my story manage her chronic stress? First, she must recognize that her stress requires changes and the causes of that stress. Then, she needs to find a physical relaxation technique that works for her. Physical relaxation will help her to experience better mental relaxation. She needs to learn to prioritize her life to avoid overcommitment, making time to do some hobbies she enjoys to help her relax. Becoming more spiritual will help her bring order to her life. Prayer or meditation, observation of a weekly day of rest, reading inspirational stories and talking to a trusted friend will help her become spiritual. Finally, countless studies show that people with strong social support systems experience fewer physical and emotional symptoms of stress than less-connected people, so she needs to spend time with those she loves. Our loved ones are in an excellent position to help when we need it. Health Nuggets is written by Dr. Richard Yukl, a medical doctor working in the United States. The medical views expressed in this program are his and may differ for your particular health needs. If you need medical advice, please consult a medical professional in your area.

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