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Coping With Stress

Unemployment can cause stress on the entire family. Discuss your challenges and plan together. Explain your situation and include them in your new plans as you start a new chapter in life. By sharing the burden and pulling together, family members grow closer together and draw strength from one another. Visiting a professional family counselor may help.

What is stress?

To begin with, stress is real.  It is not an attitude and it is not a sign of not being able to handle things.  Stress is not the result of personal problems. Stress is a health problem caused, or made worse by things you have little control over - including conditions at work and losing a job.

Stress can be caused by a single event, such as narrowly missing an accident or a personal loss.  It can also be caused by working on a job that make excessive demands on you or by trying to find work when there are no jobs available.  No matter what cause of stress, the effect on your body is the same.

Natural stress

Natural stress is a good thing in our lives. It causes our bodies to respond to any sign of danger or to any excessive demand on our body.  In these situations our body goes on alert.  This natural stress reaction is called the "fight or flight" response because, in case of danger, the body is ready to fight or run away.  A natural stress reaction always has three parts to it:  1) an excessive threat or demand on the body;  2) an end to the threat or demand; 3) a period of relaxation after the crisis has passed.

Distress

Unnatural stress - distress - comes from continuous threats or dangers that do not end.  Our bodies respond to stress in the same way whether the stress is natural or unnatural.  In the case of natural stress, the body reacts and then relaxes and returns to normal.  With stress the body is on alert for long periods of time with no chance to fully relax.

When we are under stress, our central nervous system, adrenal and thyroid glands work together; to give us more energy to handle the stress in order to get extra oxygen and sugar in the blood; to produce extra energy, we breathe harder, our heart pumps faster, and our blood pressure rises.  Fat and cholesterol are also released into the blood.

You may get sick

It doesn't take a medical degree to know that if you are running part of your body on high, and part on low, sooner or later it is going to get out of balance and begin to break down.  The symptoms of stress related illness cover a wide range of medical conditions.

High blood pressure and heart disease are related to stress and the body's system for fighting illness, the immune system, is weakened.  When you experience prolonged stress, your defenses against getting sick don't work as well. You may get more colds or viruses or even pneumonia. There are also a greater risk of getting diseases like arthritis and colitis.

Because your stomach and gut are less able to protect themselves against increased stomach acid, there is a danger of developing ulcers.  Stress can also cause depression, impotence and asthma because of chemical changes in your body.

Back to Top Page Last Edited: Tue Oct 4, 2011 9:33:40 AM
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