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“ Top Ten Stress News Stories Countdown of 2004” continued

These negative effects can be multiplied when we are exposed to even more stress as adults.

Stress Resiliency Lesson: We can’t change our early life circumstances, but we can change how we react to events today. A healthy diet rich in complex carbohydrates, with moderate amounts of protein and low saturated fat, plus adequate sleep and exercise, can go a long way in helping us to overcome any early stressors we may have endured.

9. Stress in pregnancy may harm your baby and can increase your risk of miscarriage.

Comment: Columbia University researchers have found that when a pregnant woman’s heart rate rises in reaction to a stressful situation, her unborn child’s heart rate also increases. In addition, a study led by German scientists suggests that women who are under severe stress can have an increased risk of miscarriage.

Stress Resiliency Lesson: Take exceptional care of yourself if you are pregnant. Get good prenatal care and follow your obstetrician’s diet and exercise recommendations. Make time for yourself on a daily basis to rest and renew, perhaps by listening to soothing music or watching a relaxation video.

8. Not getting enough sleep is a major cause of stress in our society. A ten-minute “power nap” may be just what you need!

Comment: According to Australian researchers, just ten minutes of sleep restores alertness and mental performance in sleep-deprived subjects.

Stress Resiliency Lesson: Power naps can really help you to get through your day feeling your best. If you do decide to nap,don’t sleep more than 20 minutes, as you are likely to feel very groggy when you awaken.

7. Seemingly minor everyday hassles, like a spat with your spouse or getting caught in a traffic jam, can put your heart at risk of developing irregular heartbeats.

Comment: Don’t underestimate the effects of minor, everyday hassles on your health.

Stress Resiliency Lesson: It’s not the spat with your spouse or the traffic jam that puts you at risk, it’s your reaction to these events. Practice observing how you react in these situations and then learn techniques, such as abdominal breathing or changing your negative thoughts to help you manage your reactions.

6. How you respond to your morning commute could mean the difference between life and death!

Comment: The most likely time for a heart attack is two hours after waking. This is when many people are apt to be caught in rush hour traffic.

Stress Resiliency Lesson: Use the time spent in traffic to listen to motivational tapes or relaxing music. Keep your cool! Getting angry won’t get you to work any faster and could get you a trip to the emergency room…or worse.

5. Stress fuels the fires of road rage!

Comment: Stress hormones appear to raise the likelihood of responding aggressively, and aggression then appears to raise the levels of stress, resulting in a vicious cycle


Stress Resiliency Lesson: This explains why the stress of traffic jams may trigger road rage and why the rage triggers an ongoing reaction that may be hard to stop. Keep yourself in good physical condition and respond to traffic jams and rude drivers with coolness and calm. Never escalate an argument with an angry driver!

4. Stress makes us forgetful…now what did I do with that pen?

Comment: Researchers have found that stress activates a brain enzyme that impairs short-term memory and also the ability to concentrate.

Stress Resiliency Lesson: You knew this all along didn’t you? Anyone who has had an extremely stressful day and then has forgotten an important event or errand has experienced this. If you simply must remember to do something and you know you are likely to face a stressful day ahead, get someone to remind you of the event before you leave work.

3. Stress is more important than a lack of exercise as a risk factor for developing heart disease.
Comment: This study’s findings, published late this year in the prestigious British medical journal the Lancet, surprised even the researchers!

Stress Resiliency Lesson: Taking steps to increase your stress resiliency, such as enrolling in a stress resiliency program, is just as important as diet and exercise in preventing health problems.

2. Stress can make you old before your time.

Comment: Scientists at the University of California San Francisco found that severe stress, such as the stress of caring for chronically children, caused women caregivers to age prematurely by as much as ten years!

Stress Resiliency Lesson: It’s not how much stress you are under, but how you perceive that stress that counts. The women in the University of California study who felt they were under the most stress were the ones that aged prematurely. No matter how much stress you feel you are under, it is vitally important to take even simple steps that can help you to stay healthy, such as making wise food choices and taking time for yourself daily, even for a few minutes, to go for a walk, listen to relaxing music or to meditate.

1. Working in a very high pressure environment, particularly one that has tight deadlines, can increase the risk of a heart attack in the next 24 hours by six times!

Comment: Researchers found that the impact of this deadline induced short term stress was far worse than the effects of chronic stress that had accumulated all year.

Stress Resiliency Lesson: Choose your work environment carefully! Is a demanding, high-pressure job really worth the risk to your life and health? If you feel you can’t leave your job, then take steps immediately to increase your stress resiliency. Under a tight work deadline? Pace yourself, get adequate sleep, nutrition and exercise and take time daily, even for a few minutes, to quiet your mind. If you are a company CEO or Human Resources director, consider implementing an employee stress resiliency program in