Blowing a sales call, missing dead-lines, failing a test, getting laid off, working too hard, losing a loved one – these are just a few of the things in life that trigger stress, and with it, emotions of frustration, anxiety, or depression. This nega-tive form of stress is referred to as “distress.”But stress also comes in a positive form known as “eustress,” coined by stress researcher Hans Selye from the Greek word eu meaning good. Eustress arises from pleasant activities, such as planning a wed-ding or preparing to go on vacation. Rather than provoke negative emo-tions, eustress generally produces welcome anticipation, imparts high hopes, and gives you butterflies in your stomach .Both types stem from your natural “fight or flight” response to events in which the body automatically prepares you to run from or con-tend with an unusual, or potentially threatening, situation.
This sets off a cascade of biochemical events. For example:• Your body starts churning out increased levels of two chief stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol .• Your heart races and your pulse increases . • Your muscles tense up .• Your pupils dilate, and your hearing becomes more acute. What is eustress from one person may be distress for another. For example, ask someone to give a speech to 1000 people. If that person is comfortable in front of an audience, he or she will see this as an exciting, positive ex-perience (eustress). On the other hand, if someone who is shy is asked to speak before a group, he or she would view this as a source of distress. Whether you experience eustress or distress in any given situation depends largely on your attitude .
To some, a situation is an opportunity (eu-stress); to others, a predicament (distress).One point is certain, however: When eustress tips over into dis-tress and goes unresolved, or if distress becomes chronic, there’s trouble. In fact, medical experts estimate that distress accounts for more than 90 percent of all ill-nesses and trips to the doctor . Here’s a glimpse into what hap-pens physiologically when dis-tress goes unresolved.Distress gets under your skinHives, acne, itching, eczema, and other common skin disorders are caused or aggravated by chronic stress .Distress produces tension head-achesThe most common of all head-aches, tension headaches occur when the muscles surrounding your skull go into painful spasms.
Though not life-threatening, ten-sion headaches are often a clear sign that you are depressed or under pressure . Distress assaults your immune system When you’re persistently stressed out, your body can’t metabolize stress hormones properly and they stick around it, damaging your immune system. Research shows that distress interferes with the function of “natural killer cells,” which help the body combat for-eign invaders that cause disease. It also reduces the body’s produc-tion of interferon, a type of protein that fights viruses and boosts the immunity — your body’s armor against illness .Distress is a heart breakerEveryday mental stresses such as tension, frustration, and sadness may trigger myocardial ischemia – lack of oxygen to the heart muscle .
This condition increases the chance of heart attack. Clearly, distress is hazardous to your health. It wrecks practically every body system. How well you cope with distress makes all the difference in your health and well being. Here are some healthy lifestyle practices that will help minimize its potentially damaging health effects.Fortify yourself nutritionallyChronic distress robs your body of nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin B complex, and protein. So what’s a stressed-out body to do? First, make sure to eat plenty of vegetables daily, and with every meal, some protein (fish, poultry, lean meats, legumes, or low-fat dairy products). Include sev-eral servings of whole grains daily too.
As important, take daily vitamin and mineral supplements such as Parrillo Essential Vitamin Formula™ and Parrillo Mineral-Electrolyte For-mula™ as nutritional insurance . Sweat it outExercise, particularly the aerobic type, is one of the most effective ways to dissipate physical and emo-tional distress. It speeds up the pro-duction of natural feel-good chemi-cals called endorphins. Exercise also relieves muscular tension brought on by distress and anxiety. In fact, numerous studies have shown that aerobic exercise can be an effective part of treatment for anxiety.Get enough restIf you’re an emotional basket case right now, take it easy by getting more rest. During rest (including sleep), the body can heal injuries and infections, eliminate toxins and waste products, dissipate distress, replenish fuel stores in your muscle fibers and bloodstream, and restore energy. Rest also allows your immune system to re-charge so that you’re better protected from disease.