I want to get off for a couple long weekends with friends to blow off some stress. Can this really help reduce my stress? ~

Ashley, Taking time off with friends is the key to health, reducing stress and happiness. Research shows that being around friends is not only healthy but is a great stress reducer. Sharing your challenges and joys in life make you happier and healthier. Laughing and eating with friends helps your body create endorphins and oxytocin which are relaxing healing hormones.


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I seem to be more stressed during the summer when it’s hot. Is there a reason for this? ~

Paul, In the summer dehydration creates additional stress as it increases your cortisol levels. Cortisol is a major stress hormone. As your heart rate and breathing increases you become less hydrated. Drinking a glass of water is a simple way to reduce your stress. Staying hydrated is one of your great stress reducing tools. Savor a glass of water when you get up in the morning. Keep water readily available and drink a glass every two hours to refresh your mind and body. Enjoy the great variety of flavorful teas and coffees available during your day instead of water. When you know you are going into a stressful situation drink a glass of water before you get there.


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I lost my job and kept wanting to snack. Could my stress be making me hungry? ~

Brianna, When you are stressed, you can experience emotional eating. Stress makes us anxious and when you eat these carbohydrates calm you down and make you feel better. The problem is weight gain and unhealthy eating. Do a substitute activity such as reading, walking or playing with your pet. Make healthy snacks ahead of time and have them ready. This way when you are hungry you are not foraging around eating high-fat snacks. Keep some gum available. Research shows this helps with your stress. Download a meditation app and take five to ten-minute breaks during the day to relax your mind, body, and soul to relieve the stress that is driving you to snack.


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How common is insomnia? ~ Kendrick

Kendrick, Many studies show almost two thirds of adults (62 percent) experienced insomnia in the last year. One third of adults say they get fewer than 6.5 hours of sleep each night. Eighty-five percent of insomniacs never seek medical treatment. Millions of insomniacs have turned to over-the-counter night time sleep aids, creating $100 million-a-year business. They have spent an additional $200 million on melatonin, a sleep-enhancing herb.


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What is shame? ~ Callie

Callie,Shame is when we feel flawed. Shame is toxic and is like living with an invisible cloud over our hearts. Shame usually had its genesis in our childhood with issues concerning our original families. Shame is difficult to sort out alone, and I continue to find it sad that so many of us have spent our life plagued with shame. Shame is a stumbling block to experiencing true happiness. Toxic shame can lead to depression, and your body may literally shut down.


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How does stress weaken the immune system? ~ Grayson

Grayson, Sheldon Cohen, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the Carnegie Mellon University, gave 400 people a questionnaire designed to quantify the amount of stress they were under. He then exposed them to nose drops containing cold viruses. Ninety percent of the stressed subjects caught a cold. They had elevated levels of corticotrophin releasing factor, which interferes with the immune system.


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What are the factors at your job that can lead to chronic stress? ~ Carter

Carter, The phrase "work-life balance" has emerged in reaction to the unhealthy choices that many of us are making in favor of the workplace, as we opt to neglect family, friends, and leisure activities in the pursuit of corporate goals. The cost to corporations and businesses when workers are unhappy and overstressed in enormous, estimated at over $300 billion annually. The cost of depression, loss of productivity, and missed work days has an annual estimated value of over $600 per full time employee. In some surveys, 30 percent of workers felt their health was suffering because of their work, and over 40 percent of managers believe the quality of their working life has deteriorated over the past three years. Worker turnover and the costs of replacing and or retraining employees have never been higher. The attitude of workers and the morale within companies are at an all-time low. The costs of chronic stress are harming our families, our corporate institutions, and the government.


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How does my body react to stress response? ~ Luke

Luke, When we are stressed, we release excitatory neurotransmitters. Your body responds to these hormones by increasing your heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. More blood is pumped into your muscles, sending more oxygen to your muscles, brain, heart and lungs. Blood flow may increase 300 percent to 400 percent, preparing your lungs, muscles, and brain for added demands. The amount of sugar of glucose increases in your blood, which accelerates your metabolism so you can take immediate action in an emergency. Your blood thickens as platelets prepare to stop bleeding quickly. As the blood thickens, oxygen increases in red cells and promotes better function of the white cells that prevent infections. The spleen discharges red and white blood cells, allowing the blood to transport more oxygen.


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