STRESS, THE IMPACT OF

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Stress is our reaction to stressors in our life. Stress can directly affect the success of your diet program. To a certain degree, you can control your reactions to stressors and help reduce the impact of stress on your overall mental and physical health. Hunger is not the only thing the hypothalamus regulates. The hypothalamus also regulates your body’s “fight or flight” response to the stressors you experience. Because this small area of your brain regulates both hunger and stress, both hunger and stress will affect each other.
Ways we cope with stress differ from person to person. While one person may be hungrier, and therefore eat more when they’re stressed, another person may lose their appetite and lose weight. When in stress, the hypothalamus stimulates a release of cortisol from our adrenal glands, just above the kidneys and the hormone adrenaline is released in the sympathetic nervous system. This gives our body an immediate boost of short-term energy (glucose/sugar) and heightened nervous response. If these hormones are continually secreted into our body it will have damaging effects on our organism.
Stress related cortisol release also causes suppression of our T-cells, which are essential for effective immune system responses. Long-term high levels of stress will leave our body more susceptible to illnesses. Long-term stress can also cause such a nervous overload that a person may develop depression, anxiety, panic disorders, phobias, sleep disorders, or PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder).
Stress can hinder a person’s success when dieting. In order to be successful at losing weight you must understand how to effectively deal with stress, without allowing stress to break your weight loss goals.
When you are dieting or maintaining a healthy weight, it is easiest to do so when you’re body is in homeostasis, but this is not always easy as stress can push your body out of homeostasis and make you feel anxious, scared, short of breath, and rigid. Other symptoms of stress can include lack of concentration, unwise decisions, loss of memory, excessive worrying, irritability, digestion problems, increased urination, nausea, changes in appetite, increased frequency of illnesses, and psychosomatic pains.
Stress can come from positive stressors, called eustress, or from negative stressors, called distress. An example of eustress would be getting married and an example of distress would be experiencing an earthquake. In general, distress usually has more detrimental effects on a person’s health than eustress, if not resolved within a short period of time. (45)


SCORE YOUR LEVEL OF STRESS
You can score your level of stress this past year by using the SRRS (Social Readjustment Rating Scale) (46, 10)
Simply add up your score from the list below. A score above 300 means you are at increased risk of illness and/or damage to your body’s health. A score between 150 – 299 is a moderate risk and a score below 150 is a low risk.


LIFE EVENT SCORE
Death of a spouse 100
Divorce 73
Marital separation 65
Imprisonment 63
Death of a close family member 63
Personal injury or illness 53
Marriage 50
Dismissal from work 47
Marital reconciliation 45
Retirement 45
Change in health of family member 44
Pregnancy 40
Sexual difficulties 39
Gain a new family member 39
Business readjustment 39
Change in financial state 38
Death of a close friend 37
Change to different line of work 36
Change in frequency of arguments 35
Major mortgage 32
Foreclosure of mortgage or loan 30
Change in responsibilities at work 29
Child leaving home 29
Trouble with in-laws 29
Outstanding personal achievement 28
Spouse starts or stops work 26
Begin or end school 26
Change in living conditions 25
Revision of personal habits 24
Trouble with boss 23
Change in working hours or conditions 20
Change in residence 20
Change in schools 20
Change in recreation 19
Change in church activities 19
Change in social activities 18
Minor mortgage or loan 17
Change in sleeping habits 16
Change in number of family reunions 15
Change in eating habits 14
Vacation 13
Minor violation of law 10


TOTAL SCORE_____________


Some say that constant excessive stress for more than 2 weeks can cause lasting damage to the body if not coped with effectively. Effective coping techniques are essential when dealing with stress, in order to keep your body’s equilibrium closer to homeostasis and avoid long-term damage to yourself.


WAYS TO COPE WITH STRESS
There are several ideas for you to consider when seeking ways to cope with or reduce stress levels. You may find some of these useful:
-Have a Hobby
-Listen to or play music
-Think of other more pleasant thoughts
-Enjoy nature & the outdoors
-Have a good support system of friends and family
-Exercise
-Set Goals to accomplish
-Volunteer in your community or a charity organization
-Take time to Prepare, Plan, and Organize
-Do something you don’t want to do, every day
-Review your core values
-Learn a new talent
-Find humor, but not at the expense of others
-Learn to Love, instead of hate
-Take a mental break from worrying, and put it on the calendar for a future time
-Think of ways you may be able to reduce or eliminate a stressor that is causing you stress
-Participate in a game or sport
-Talk to someone you trust
-Cook or bake in the kitchen
-Read an interesting book
-Take a walk through the park
-Play with your pet
-Appreciate your good fortunes
-Lose weight, if you’re overweight
-Remember old memories, old pictures, diaries
-Watch a favorite show 

-Meditate