It’s so interesting to me that so many discussions about health begin and end with losing weight. As I mentioned, the need for a decent night’s sleep is rarely discussed. And the need for managing stress rarely gets even a passing mention.
This is astonishing to me because there is so much research indicating that how we manage stress can have a profound effect on our health. There are many kinds of stress. Some kinds of stress seem to be positive, giving us an immediate boost of adrenalin to deal with something dangerous or just exciting. But some kinds of stress, especially chronic stress, seem to cause a lot of problems in the body.
Chronic stress has been linked to changes in t-cells and a weakened immune system. Other studies link chronic stress and anger to higher incidence of cardiac arrhythmia and sudden cardiac arrest. Chronic stress is also linked to higher incidence and poorer management of a host of other diseases including diabetes, cancer and hypertension. I’ve heard statistics suggesting that over 90 percent of doctor visits can be linked to stress. Yet how often has your doctor asked you about stress? So many of my doctors have repeatedly asked me about how much I exercise and recommended a diet. I have had doctors repeatedly recommend pills and radical, invasive surgery. But I’ve only had one, truly amazing doctor, who regularly inquired about the stress levels in my life.
I’m not entirely sure why this is. Maybe discussions about stress take too long for our overscheduled and overworked medical professionals to manage. Maybe being “stressed out” is still something of a badge of honor for our amped up, caffeinated, type-A culture. In any case my little chicklettes, we’re gonna talk about stress here this week. Because getting your heart thumping because you’re shaking your tail feathers or looking at a particularly hot and sexy bird can be a good thing. Getting your heart thumping hard all the time because you’re anxious, worried or stressed out–not so much. So this week we’ll take a deep breath, search for our Zen and cultivate peace.
The Fat Chick
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Interesting post! Brought back memories since I was just one class shy of getting my stress certificate in grad school! 😉
Recently my doctor has been asking about stress and recommending non-medical solutions: yoga, meditation, exercise. I’ve been going to her for years and years, and I think she realizes that a massive weight loss is not in my future. (Although she did offer up lap-band surgery, in passing, as an alternative last time…) She also understands that if I keep my weight under 250 my blood pressure is good, my numbers are fine, and except for an autoimmune disease I am pretty healthy!
Modern life is so very stressful. We have to find ways to take care of ourselves!
That’s great that you found a doc that understands that health is a spectrum! No doctor is perfect but it seems like this one is willing to bow to your wishes. Yay for you!