Love it or hate it, stress is here to stay. While some thrive off this intense emotion, others can be derailed by its very existence. Did you know that stress is recognized as the top proxy killer disease, causing more than 60 percent of all human illnesses? Despite this shocking statistic, some people are so accustomed to the feeling of constant stress that they become oblivious to its presence, filing it away as ‘normal.’
HeartMath widely recognized for its science-based solutions for stress and performance, knows a thing or two about stress education. Their team of experts put together a few surprising facts about stress and why it may not be as easy to kick to the curb as you think:
It’s not all in your head.
Stress may start in your head, but its effects can be felt throughout the body. Common stress-related symptoms include headaches, dizziness, teeth grinding, increased heart rate, upset stomach and digestive disorders, muscle tension and weight gain—to name a few. Stress ages us, creating mental and emotional overload, fragmenting our thinking and making us exceptionally irritable and unpleasant to be around.
On average, women are more stressed than men.
On a 10-point scale, women report an average stress level of 5.3, compared to men, who report an average level of 4.6. Why are women more stressed? Research finds a correlation between rising stress levels in women and increasing workloads since the recession hit in 2009.
Big or small – to your body, it’s all the same.
Research shows our bodies don’t discriminate between a BIG stress and a little one. Regardless of the significance of said stressor, it still affects the body in predictable ways. A typical stress reaction, which most of us experience dozens of times each day, begins with a cascade of 1,400 biochemical events in your body. If these reactions are regularly left unchecked, we begin to age prematurely, our cognitive function is impaired, energy is drained and we are robbed of effectiveness and clarity.
Where you live matters.
A new Gallup-Healthways report* analyzed data from 350,000 people to identify the most (and least) stressed geographic areas of the country. Results showed that people living in coastal states like Hawaii, Mississippi and Louisiana were consistently less stressed than the national average. Residents of landlocked states West Virginia, Kentucky and Utah were among the most stressed.
As new social trends emerge, so do new stressors and patterns in stress levels. Take FoMO, or the “fear of missing out,” for example. As Science Daily* reports, this relatively new concept was born alongside the growth of social networks, which let users keep up-to-date with each other like never before. FoMO is the concern that others may be having more fun and rewarding experiences than you, resulting in the desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing.
While some of these surprising facts cannot be eliminated, there are ways to deal with stress in a healthy and effective way. Monitor your eating habits, stay social and incorporate meditation tools – like HeartMath’s Inner Balance – into your weekly routine.
Founded by Doc Childre, HeartMath is a cutting-edge performance company offering a range of unique services, products and technologies that improve health and well being, while dramatically reducing stress. Clinical studies by HeartMath have demonstrated the critical link between emotions, heart function, and cognitive performance. HeartMath studies have been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals including American Journal of Cardiology, Stress Medicine, Preventive Cardiology, and Journal of the American College of Cardiology. HeartMath stress reducing solutions are used across the USA in leading healthcare organizations, VA hospitals and clinics, as well as by more than 15,000 health professionals, and dozens of school systems.