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Stress affects body and brain


             When are you doing too much? You know, multitasking, trying to get all of the bases covered because the things have to be done, no one else is going to take care of these things the way you do, and your pace is near frantic because there isn’t enough time in your day and you have a long way to go before you can continue your affair with the pillow that has your name written all over it.

            To utilize every possible minute you make phone calls while you are driving. You may use text messaging to maximize productivity to get everything on your list done.

            Whoa! Slow down. Maybe you need to give this some thought. When do you slow your pace, take time to re-energize in healthy ways? When do you take care of you? How do you do this? How often do you indulge in just being … in the moment? Do you know when your reserves are depleted or near depletion?

            Right now, this minute, stop thinking about all of those things you think you have to do. Take a deep breath and let it out. Take another one. Sit comfortably in your chair, your feet flat on the floor. Close your eyes. Starting with your toes and working up to the top of your scalp, stretch and relax, stretch and relax one part of you at a time … toes, ankles, knees …until every muscle is relaxed Then just be, thinking of nothing but breathing easily in and out, in and out. There is just the moment. Be in the moment.

            Understand that if you don’t take care of yourself, your well being, you won’t be able to take care of all of those things you are – or think you are – responsible for doing. Those words came from a wise man to a wise woman who rarely, if ever, took time for her own care. She was on the brink of exhaustion, burn-out. She wasn’t able to be mindful of herself and her reserves were depleted.

            If you slow down, you will just get further behind, you think. Or maybe something inside you says you are invincible and it won’t always be this way. Or maybe you thrive under stress. Sooner or later it will catch up with you.

            Stress is how the brain and body respond to any demand. It can be routine, everyday stress. It can be caused by sudden negative changes. It can be traumatic from a major catastrophe.  There are five things the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) wants everyone to know about stress:

  1. Stress affects everyone.
  2. Not all stress is bad.
  3. Long term stress can harm your health.
  4. There are ways to manage your stress.
  5. If you’re overwhelmed by stress, ask for help from a health professional.

For individuals subject to substance abuse, stress is “one of the most powerful triggers for relapse, even after long periods of abstinence,” advises the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at “Acute stress can improve memory, whereas chronic stress can impair memory and may impair cognitive function,” writes Nora D. Volkow, MD, director of NIDA. She said that during “stressful and uncertain times … it is important that we all focus on restoring our emotional well being.”

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