Saturday, April 3, 2010

Stress Awareness Month

It seems there is an awareness month for just about every single thing. March was apparently Caffeine Awareness month, Nutrition, Frozen Food, Peanut, Gender Equality, On-Hold (whatever that means), and Social Work month just to name a few. May hold its fair share with Barbecue, Salad, Salsa, Egg, Mental Health, Meditation, and Physical Fitness and Sports month.

Every month has a wide array of causes. Some are more prominent while others are a bit obscure but all want to bring awareness to an issue or celebrate for a cause. One for April is Stress Awareness Month with April 16 being Stress Awareness Day in conjunction with the stress of taxes. Here is a list of other awareness months.

I bring up stress, because it's something we all deal with. There is no real "immunity" for stress other than to take care of ourselves. I noticed the last few days at work, I was becoming very stressed with determining a schedule, getting PowerPoints done, the opening of the building, my boss not thinking I was doing everything "right," etc.I was becoming increasingly agitated, defensive, and upset by all this. I had brief thoughts of just wanting to shut down, deprive myself, exercise compulsively, all those lovely de-coping ED skills. This was a reminder and a hint I really needed to take care of myself, do things that were going to allow me to feel satisfied, to take a breath before things got out of hand. In the end, stress + prolonged time = exacerbated ED/lapse/relapse.

I think this is just another step in recovery. It's not always easy to recognize how stress is affecting us until we get to the point of no oblivion, but if we can see it before it is too late, we can take actions to thwart ourselves into a self-destructive state.

How do you combat stress? When do you know it has become a problematic?

On a side note, the word stress originally comes from the Latin word stringere meaning "to draw tight." The term stress was first coined in the 1930s by endocrinologist Hans Selye who also came up with "eustress" or good stress as opposed to distress. Selye came up with a biopsychsocial concept of stress and adaption which took awhile for academic psychologists to take seriously and research further. By the 1990s, "stress" became more understood as a physiological and psychological functioning.

Note--*Stress by numbers here and here.
Argentinian study on stress and eating disorders (full text available in Spanish)
A few other studies of stress and eating disorders here and here


Kim said...

I just read a book called "Live a Little: Breaking the Rules Won't Break Your Health" and they talk about how some stress is actually good. If we didn't have any stress, our bodies and minds would become sort of atrophied. But, there is a "too much" point. I think I know when I'm hitting that. I usually start to overuse my main coping mechanism -- making lists. When I start writing down my days to the minute, I'm overly stressed and need a rest. What keeps me sane, mostly, is thinking about whatever downtime I have to enjoy, even if it's just a half hour show on DVR that I can watch with dinner. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. I'm very busy this month, for example, and it's making me a bit anxious, but I know I'll be in a more restful groove in a few weeks so that helps. Eyes on the prize, as my dad says. Haha.

Linda said...

Stress is a natural part of life, it's part of being human as without it our ancestors would not have survived.

I cope with stress by walking, eating natural and heathy food as well as doing relaxation exercises such as self-hypnosis helps me with daily stress.

Tiptoe said...

I hope I didn't give the impression that I thought stress was all bad. As with anything, there is good and bad stress. Both can propel you forward but both can be difficult to deal with.

Kim, yeah, I know you are one busy lady this month. I think being able to look forward to stuff is really a healthy, good outlook to life. It's good you are on the lookout for yourself, so you don't go over the edge.

Linda, I agree--walking and relaxation are very beneficial to s tress reduction.