And the #1 cause of visits to the doctor is…

Did you know that…

  • 75-90% of doctor visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints?
  • Stress leads to the breakdown of the immune system, making us more susceptible to a host of diseases and illnesses, including arthritis and the common cold?

Stress is a survival mechanism.  When a lion threatens to attack you, stress causes bodily functions that aren’t immediately necessary for survival (immune system, digestion, growth) to shut down so that we can focus all our energy on fighting that lion or getting the hell outta there.  Stress used to be absolutely necessary and good because it saved our lives, but our bodies haven’t adapted to the changing conditions.  We become stressed when we get an email from our boss, when a phone rings, or when we go on a date.  And our bodies react the same way whether our lives are in danger or not – so allowing yourself to get stressed often is extremely damaging to your health.

What can you do?  For me, just knowing (i.e. telling myself) that I’m in total control of how I react to everything that happens to me gives me some power over stress.  I also find it helpful to remember that I am but one person alive for the teeniest blink of time in a teeny part of a galaxy that is one of at least hundreds of millions of galaxies in a universe that is incomprehensibly large.  My problems, at the end of the day, mean nothing!

If those thoughts don’t do the trick, here are some other tips:

  • Clean up your work and living spaces.  Get things out of the way.  A clean, de-cluttered environment goes a long way to helping us relax.
  • Tell people what you really think.  Be tactful, but be brutally honest, especially with your friends.  It’s a weight off your shoulders and more often than not it helps the friendship grow stronger.
  • Turn off the TV.  Studies have shown that the more hours of TV you watch, the less happy you’re likely to be.  We all love TV but it isn’t necessarily making us happier. So turn it off and go outside for a walk.  Bring your iPod too and clear your mind.
  • Don’t think about yourself so much.  Take an interest in things that have nothing to do with you – science, psychology, sports, animals, etc.

If all else fails, go punch a waterfall!  (If anyone gets that reference, I’ll be stunned.)

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