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Don’t stress out—easier said than done!

Don’t stress out—easier said than done!

Everyone has heard of the term “stress,” and there is no doubt an immediate correlation to its effects on the human body. And while years of mainstream attention has heightened awareness of the causes and effects of stress, it has done little to help stem the tide. According to the most recent “Stress in America” survey released by the American Psychological Association (APA), stress levels continue to increase year after year, with Millennials reporting the highest stress levels among other generations. 1  This shows that stress does not discriminate and younger people are just as susceptible to its effects as anyone else.

With so much awareness and various resources dedicated to stress management, the question on everyone’s mind is “why are these numbers still increasing?” Clearly, there is no easy answer—stress management is often geared at solutions that may be unrealistic. Job stressing you out—finding a different job may not be feasible or realistic. Family stressing you out—there’s generally no viable solution here. Modern life has many stressors that can be impossible to avoid and common tips, like taking a break from a particular stressor, are easier said than done. Even thinking about stress and its effects can stress a person out—whoa, it’s easy to understand why people aren’t finding value in mainstream advice.

Unfortunately, this creates a growing health burden, as the long-term effects of stress can be very taxing to overall wellness.2 Continual exposure to stress can cause an imbalance between the body’s production of cellular free radicals, and our  antioxidant defense system’s ability to neutralize free radicals. This leads to oxidative stress.  The body has a built-in system, designed to keep a healthy oxidative balance. This system includes antioxidant enzymes and non-enzymatic antioxidants. A deficiency in the production of antioxidant enzymes, decreased dietary intake or reduced absorption of antioxidant compounds from foods, may all lower this system’s antioxidant activity. 3 Over time, this oxidative stress can create a burden on many systems of the body, and can even impact the aging process. 4

So, what’s a person to do to combat stress and its effects? Since relaxation is a highly personal affair, with no two people finding value in the same thing, its common sense to think that finding a way to de-stress may not be found in a list of tips on the internet. Instead, paying careful attention to your body’s cues and recognizing activities such as exercise or time with friends, that have helped release tension in the past, can be a powerful tool in your individual war on stress.  In addition, it may be useful to supplement with antioxidant enzymes during periods of stress. These enzymes include catalase which catalyzes the destruction of hydrogen peroxide, a highly oxidative compound or superoxide dismutase (SOD), an essential enzyme that detoxifies the highly reactive superoxide radical to create hydrogen peroxide. Antioxidant enzymes are a key component of the body’s natural antioxidant defense system, and maintaining adequate levels of these enzymes is vital in maintaining good health.5

The main consideration though, is don’t stress about stress! Take a deep breath—do what works for you and most importantly, listen to your body. Taking steps to identify and manage stress proactively, is a much better approach then being reactive when faced with health challenges down the road.

 


 

References

1. http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2015/snapshot.aspx

2. Schneiderman, Neil, Gail Ironson, and Scott D. Siegel. “STRESS AND HEALTH: Psychological, Behavioral, and Biological Determinants.” Annual review of clinical psychology1 (2005): 607–628. PMC. Web. 3 Aug. 2017.

3, 5.  Harrison, Danielle, Antioxidant Enzymes: “A Dynamic System for Health.” NEC Whitepaper. Pg. 1. August 2013

4. Rahman, Khalid. “Studies on Free Radicals, Antioxidants, and Co-Factors.” Clinical Interventions in Aging2.2 (2007): 219–236. Print.

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