Stress is the body’s reaction to unfamiliar situations. Stress is a normal part of everyday life, and so is our response to it. When you feel threatened, a chemical reaction occurs in your body that allows you to act in a way to protect yourself. This reaction is known as “fight-or-flight”, or the stress response. During this process, your heart rate increases, your breathing quickens, your muscles start to tighten, and your blood pressure rises.
Some causes of internal and external stress include major life changes (pregnancy, getting married, or a new job), relationship problems, financial responsibilities, and academic pressure as well. Stress may be affecting your health, even though you might not realize it. Stress can affect your body, thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
- Constant worrying
- Inability to concentrate
- Irritability (agitated behavior – twiddling your fingers, clenched jaw, grinding teeth)
- Angry outbursts
- Social withdrawal – decreased contact with family and friends
- Overeating or undereating
- Digestion issues – nausea or constipation
- Muscle tension
- Increased heart rate
- Weight gain
Here are some coping mechanisms and ways you can manage your stress better.
- Identify what’s causing your stress. Ask yourself about your feelings and the problems that you’re having. Is it something that you can control or is it always going to be an issue?
- Exercise on a regular basis. It’s important to make time to exercise at least 3 times a week if your schedule permits.
- Utilize techniques for physical relaxation. Activities such as deep breathing, yoga, and meditation will make a huge difference in your overall outlook and help you to relax.
- Socialize with family and friends. Talk to someone close to you about what’s on your mind. You’ll feel much better when your feelings are out in the open, instead of just bottling them up.
- Find a hobby that you can enjoy. Read a book, draw, or listen to your favorite music.
- Journal your thoughts. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone, writing down your feelings is a great way to get it out of your system.
- Sleep! Getting enough sleep is key. Sleep deprivation can negatively affect your mood. Make sure you are sleeping at least 6 -7 hours per night.
Stress is inevitable. It’s always important to have a plan so that your stress levels aren’t getting too out of control. Finding stress-reducing routines that work well for you is the first and most important step of increasing side effects of stress, both emotional and physical. Learning how to manage your stress takes time and practice.
However, if you have tried all above steps and your stress becomes more difficult to manage, or if you start to develop more serious symptoms (chest pain, difficulty breathing, or irregular menstrual cycle) it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
Written by Dami Falade
American adults spend an average of nine hours a day using technology. If you are someone who spends a vast majority of their day in front of a computer, tablet, mobile phone, or other electronic devices, you are likely to experience symptoms of computer vision syndrome. Computer vision syndrome, also known as digital eye strain, describes a group of eye and vision-related problems that are a result of continued technology use.
The most common symptoms associated with computer vision syndrome include:
- Difficulty focusing
- Itchy, burning, or watery eyes
- Dry eyes
- Double vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurred vision
Computer vision syndrome is common and sometimes unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take small steps to protect your eyes. Here are some tips on how to combat computer vision syndrome.
Take a short break. Try to schedule a five-minute break every hour, if possible. Stand up and walk around or just rest your eyes for a few minutes.
Look away. While using electronics, look at something else other than your screen every 20 minutes for 20 seconds. This will help to relieve eye strain.
Blink more. In order to reduce your chances of developing dry eye while using a computer, make it an effort to blink frequently. Blinking moistens the front surface of your eye.
Increase font size. This will help so that you aren’t struggling to read and strain your eyes. You can also adjust the colors – black print on a white background won’t be too strenuous on your eyes.
Lower your brightness. You can adjust the brightness of your display screen to where it has the same brightness as your work area.
Minimize glare. Clean your monitor regularly to remove dust. Position your light source at a right angle relative to the monitor, and/or position your screen to avoid reflecting light from overhead lights or windows.
Visit an eye care specialist annually to keep track of your eye health and seek treatment for any vision related issues. Preventative care helps maintain healthy vision.
Written by Dami Falade
The heart is one of the most important organs in the human body. Unfortunately, some people don’t take care of it the way that they should, which is where heart diseases come into play. According to Dr. Eugenia Gianos, Director of Women’s Heart Health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, 50% of heart disease is genetic. There are so many factors that go into cardiovascular health, but heart disease is preventable. Here are the steps you can take to ensure you will have a healthy heart and a healthy life!
- Reduce or stop smoking entirely. People who smoke are twice as likely to have a heart attack as opposed to those who don’t. The carbon dioxide found in tobacco decreases the amount of oxygen in your blood. Smoking also causes blood clots and increases your blood pressure. If you do smoke, try to cut down significantly. The earlier you stop smoking, the better.
- Exercise on a regular basis. Physical activity helps lower your blood pressure and being active improves blood flow. Try to incorporate physical activity into your daily or weekly routine, if you don’t work out already. Start slow – take a brisk walk for 30 minutes a day, 3-5 times a week, if possible.
- Monitor your weight. The more fat a person has in their midsection, the more at risk they are for heart disease. Instead of eating outside food, cook meals at home more often. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate – meals like whole-grain pasta with marinara sauce or grilled chicken breasts with vegetables on the side shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to complete. Not only is it cheaper, but you have control over what ingredients are put in your food. However, if you don’t have time to cook, make smarter choices in the case that you do want to eat outside.
- Maintain your stress. Chronic, repeated stress triggers your body’s fight-or-flight mode and high blood pressure. Deep breathing, yoga, and even meditation can help manage this.
- Problems with sleep or lack of sleep can have a huge impact on your heart health. Things that may seem minor, like drinking alcohol or eating a big meal right before bed, can put you more at risk for heart disease. If you feel hungry before going to sleep, try to have a light snack to curb your cravings. Drinking alcohol before bed drastically affects the quality of your sleep. If you do want to drink, do it a few hours before so that it has time to get filtered out of your system through excretion and perspiration.
Heart disease prevention is solely based on what kind of lifestyle you are living. A report from the Centers for Disease Control revealed that heart disease killed around 415,000 Americans in 2016. It may be difficult at first, but you can start by making small changes one at a time. Taking a few simple steps will have a big impact on your heart and overall health.
Written by Dami Falade