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  Healthy Living Begins With Your Mental Health  

We spend a great deal of time trying to make sure we are living a healthy lifestyle so that we can enjoy life to its fullest all the while overlooking our mental health, specifically the stress in our lives.

Many of us think we are coping with the stress in our lives, when actually we are not. Stress affects us in many ways. Our bodies experience stress and then they react to it. Not all stress is bad, some is good. For example, having a baby can be stressful but it’s a good stress. That said, most of us have a lot of negative stress following us. 

Stress is a normal body response to events where a person feels threatened. When you body perceives a threat your nervous system responds flooding your body with stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol). Your heart pounds, your breath quickens, your senses sharpen. The sense of danger can be real or imagined, but the body’s defense system kicks into gear – the fight or flight response. This response helps you to remain focused, energized, and able to respond to the challenge at hand. Stress beyond a certain point is not helpful and can damage your health, your relationships, your mood, your productivity, and your quality of life. 

Stress can cause many physical symptoms such as upset stomach, headache, chest pain, high blood pressure, and sleep problems. It can also cause some disease symptoms to worsen. 

Consider the following stats:

1. 43% of all adults will suffer adverse health effects as a result of stress
2. 75% to 90% of all doctors visits are stress related
3. OSHA has declared stress a workplace hazard costing American industry more than $300 billion dollars annually
4. 50% of emotional disorders are the result of stress that went untreated

It is important that you learn to recognize when stress is out of control in your life. The most dangerous thing is stress that creeps up and builds. You get used to being stressed, it feels normal, and you don’t recognize the heavy toll it is taking on you. 

Stress affects your mind and body, and it can shorten your life, so make sure you can recognize it and you deal with it.

Cognitive Symptoms include memory issues, poor judgment, unable to concentrate, and feeling anxious or constantly worrying. Emotional symptoms include moodiness, feeling overwhelmed, feeling lonely or isolated, and unhappy. Physical symptoms include aches and pains, nausea, diarrhea, chest pain, rapid heartbeat. Finally, behavioral symptoms include sleeping too little/too much, isolating yourself, eating too much/too little, procrastinating, using alcohol or drugs to relax, and nervous habits like pacing. 

Take stress seriously. Make sure you learn to handle your stress. Your mental health and your physical health are important to living a healthy life.

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