Only Losers Get Stressed

I think that there is a stigma against stress.  Maybe I’m wrong but when I talk to people about it, it seems to me that women will admit to being stressed, but dismiss it as just being the way life is; and men either don’t admit to feeling it at all, or see it as a macho, positive thing – whether it is or not.

How can we ever allow ourselves to benefit from stress relief if we are too scared to admit to being compromised by stress? 

Stress can affect anyone.  People of every race, gender, age, ability, culture, socio-economic class etc, all experience stress.  No one is immune. 

But different people do experience stress at different levels.  What one person finds super stressful, another might simply glide through.  And everyone handles stress situations differently – meaning some people are less likely than others to suffer chronic or long-term effects of stress.

There are many factors that determine who is more vulnerable to the harmful effects of stress.  Financial strains, job related stress, relationships and parenting can all take a toll.  So can illness and life transitions and other stressful events.  Some people handle stress extremely well.  They mitigate its effects well.  These people are usually those who have a strong support network in place.

The people who often has more trouble dealing with stress are those who don’t have a strong support network such as friends and family.  This is the number 1 cause of stress in adult women!  Other high risk stress groups are those who don’t get enough to eat, are in poor health or who are sleep deprived (Note – new mothers can fall into every one of these groups and stay-at-home parents are continually identified as amongst the most highly stressed groups!). 

People who are hit with many stressful events in rapid succession may also have trouble coping with stress.  These people, whether young or old are less likely to handle stress well, and more likely to suffer more from the effects of stress.

While no one can avoid all stress all the time, stress does affect people differently.  The ability to bounce back seems to lie in general health, support and stress as a relatively isolated event rather than an ongoing occurrence.

Recognize when you have moved into a “high at-risk” group and change your actions to incorporate adequate stress relief measures for the phase of life you are in now.

Stress and Cancer

Stress has far reaching effects on your body.  One of those things is that it encourages the release of certain hormones into your bloodstream.  Of these, norepinephrine (adrenaline) seems to have the particularly nasty habit of stimulating tumor cells to do a couple things – break down the tissue surrounding them so they can move about the body more freely, and stimulate the growth of blood vessels that will nourish the tumors.

While studies are still being conducted and new information is emerging regularly, it does seem that stress can indirectly contribute to cancer growth.  

And stress also seems to lessen the beneficial effects of cancer drugs.

Does this mean that every time you have a stressed-out moment you’re elevating your risk for cancer?  No.  It’s not the momentary stresses that cause problems – everyone experiences stress now and then.

However, when stress is ongoing and chronic and when it is becoming an overwhelming part of life, this could be a problem.  Not only does long-term stress increase the chances of cancer cell growth, it increases the chances of a number of health issues.  That’s why we hear so much about reducing stress and relaxing these days.

Stress happens to everyone, young and old, from time to time.  But chronic stress and high stress levels can spell trouble for your health.  In cancer patients, stress can be a bigger problem when the overall stress of the situation along with stress caused by pain, surgery, treatments and the changes that accompany them is factored in.

Take especial good care of yourself when you’re ill.  Stress never helps.  And following a good stress relief program can be even more crucial than ever.