Columns / Discourse / November 17, 2010

Did You Know: Stressed out

With finals coming up and papers to do, I’m sure everyone is getting really stressed out. It only seemed fitting to do an article on stress. So here are some facts about stress and how to lower your stress levels. Good luck on your finals everyone!

1. Stress has been called “the silent killer” and can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, chest pain and an irregular heartbeat.

2. While it is a myth that stress can turn hair gray, stress can cause hair loss. In fact, telogen effluvium (hair loss) can begin up to three months after a stressful event. But don’t begin to worry about losing your hair too! Stressing about something and worrying about your hair falling out could only lead to you being bald by the end of the year!

3. The top three most stressful cities in America are Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.

4. Stress alters the neurochemical makeup of the body, which can affect the maturation and release of the human egg. Stress can also cause the fallopian tubes and uterus to spasm, which can affect implantation. Stress in men can affect sperm count and motility and can cause erectile dysfunction. In fact, stress may account for 30 percent of all infertility problems.

5. Laughing lowers stress hormones (like cortisol, epinephrine and adrenaline) and strengthens the immune system by releasing health-enhancing hormones.

6. Stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, liver cirrhosis and suicide.

7. A 2009 CNN poll reveals that the number one reason for stress in most countries is money. The countries most stressed about money are Malaysia, China, Singapore and the United States. The countries least stressed about money are Russia, France and Italy.

8. Research has shown that dark chocolate reduces stress hormones such as cortisol and other fight-or-flight hormones. Cocoa is also rich in antioxidants called flavonoids. Yum, another reason to eat chocolate!

9. One relaxation technique is called “Palming.” If you wear glasses, take them off. Rub your hands together rapidly so that the friction warms your palms. Now, place your warm palms on your closed eyelids. Go on, try it right now! You’ll be amazed at how soothing this can be, and the best part is that you can do it nearly any time or any place. Other techniques include tensing and relaxing your muscle groups, visualizing soothing scenarios and deep breathing.

10. Another technique is to hug someone! Hugs have numerous physical benefits. People who hug are generally healthier and happier than those who don’t. Simply sharing that moment of close contact can help you to feel better and more able to cope with whatever is going on in your world. Taking walks also helps a lot, and it clears your mind to get some fresh air. Try it and see!

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