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The Stress Factor

Sensational Seniors

Cope Better with Stress. Without some stress, we wouldn't be alive. It is part of normal living. When it becomes distress, then it works against us and causes physical and emotional problems. You have just been through a very stressful experience and perhaps some major stress or stresses in your life contributed to your heart problem. Any "attack" on the body whether it be a heart attack, invasion by germs, an injury or an emotional upset can alert your inborn "emergency" mechanism, your adrenal glands, to go into action. As a result, the muscles of your stomach and intestines contract, your blood vessels clamp down, your blood pressure surges, and your heart beats faster.

The following are some common signs and symptoms that stress may be causing problems:

Stress Alerts

Behavioral Signals

Stressed Out or Nervous

  • Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
  • Misuse of drugs or alcohol, sex or gambling.
  • Decreased productivity.
  • Withdrawal
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Rapid speech
  • Frequent accidents

Physical Signals

  • High blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeatMan in Pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Headaches
  • Aches and pains
  • Changes in bowel movements
  • Weight changes
  • Heartburn
  • Muscle tension
  • Cold hands and feet

Emotional Signals

  • Irritability
  • Nightmares
  • Crying spells
  • Aggression
  • Preoccupation
  • Worrying
  • Feeling worthless
  • General restlessness or anxiety

Spiritual Signals

  • Feeling empty
  • Loss of meaning
  • Doubt
  • Unforgiving
  • Martyrdom
  • Looking for magic
  • Loss of direction
  • Need to "prove" self worth
  • Confusion

You can't avoid stress completely any more than you can change the wind, but you can change your attitude toward situations that previously caused you distress. If you recognize that you feel you are frequently in a hurry and feel angry and hostile, discuss it with your physician and your family. You may need expert help to counteract the risk caused by stresses in your life.

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