Is Stress The #1 Silent Killer? Discover the secrets to prevent and relieve stress!
You’ve heard the saying “stress is a silent killer” but do you know exactly why? What’s all the hype about stress? Learn what stress really does to your body and how to stop it!
Can you remember the last time you weren’t stressed out? I can – it’s when I went out for dinner with my best friend on the beach this past week. I remember thinking, “Hey, it would be nice to feel this stress-free all the time!” While it’s not realistic to never experience stress (because it’s sometimes needed, as I’ll explain later), chronic stress can eat away at your health, productivity, and overall well-being. I know this, you know this, the world knows this – so why is it so hard to just relax?
I think sometimes we need to be reminded of just how bad stress is for us. It’s easy to forget about it because it sits on the back-burner of your mind, all the time. After all, it’s the “silent killer”, right? Finally, when you get a couple seconds to chill out, your brain goes “Ahhhh, peace.” And for the first time in a while you remember what not being stressed out feels like. Awesome.
What does stress do to your body?
Firstly, chronic stress does lots of bad things. Acute stress is needed to propel our butts into action. When acute stress turns into chronic stress, there’s a problem, but acute stress on its own is quite normal and not usually detrimental.
You may have heard that stress is bad, and it definitely is when it’s chronic. In layman’s terms, our fight flight or freeze pathway is activated during our normal stress response. We’re meant to have acute stress and the hormones related to it released every now and then when we have stressful life situations. Think about this dude who punched a bear in the snout and lived to tell the tale (not all heroes wear capes). His stress response would’ve been through the roof! Cortisol being released out the wazoo! But that’s okay because it was acute stress.
- Stress causes wear and tear on our bodies…
In terms of chronic stress, the amount of cortisol we release wreaks havoc on our bodies. But how? Well, to be frank, cortisol plays a part in literally rotting us from the inside out. Cortisol is a hormone partly responsible for internal oxidation or oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is the term scientists use and it is a lot more complicated than just a simple secretion of cortisol. However, for simplicity’s sake we won’t go into depth further. Oxidation is what happens when rust forms on your car, right? Think of your organs slowly rusting due to oxidative stress. Ouch.
When our organs get weak from rust so to speak, they become susceptible to diseases or just fail altogether. It’s important to note our bodies can suffer from oxidative stress not only from what we define as being “stressed out” but also from: disease, ketosis, sleep restrictions, and too much nutrient intake.
- Stress can cause Type II Diabetes.
If you thought you only got Type II Diabetes from too much sugar and not enough exercise, think again. Oxidative stress can cause the onset and progression of Type II Diabetes. This is because oxidative stress affects the stress pathways that control insulin signaling and then BAM. Diabetes. Not quite like that, there’s a pathway of serine and threonine kinases involved, but you get the picture.
Chronic stress can make you suffer from any or all of the following symptoms. They range from cognitive, behavioral, to social symptoms.
- Sleeping Problems (too much or not enough)
- Eat problems (too much or not enough)
Also, stress makes it a heck of a lot harder to deal with any mental or physical illnesses you might have. For a more complete list, visit Psych Central here.
The real problem lies when stress is allowed to grow and grow until it brings about more psychological problems that are a lot harder to treat than stress. Illnesses such as Bipolar Disorder, OCD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and phobias can be exacerbated or created by excessive stress.
Why are people so stressed?
It seems that everyone is stressed about something. A lot of people assume that entrepreneurs and business people must always be stressed, because after all, business is stressful! But people all over the world are stressed about anything and everything. If it’s not you, it’s your job or your family. If it’s not your money, it’s your health.
We’re stressed for lots of reasons, and here are three main ones:
1) Lack of a work-life balance.
Think about all of the people that wake up in the wee hours of the morning, commute for an hour or more to work, sit at a desk for 8 hours, then they head home. Maybe you’re one of these people. By the time you get home, you’re depleted of energy and willpower. You hardly have the energy to put together a healthy meal, let alone go out with family or friends, pursue a hobby, or hit the gym. You feel stressed because you know you should be working out or running errands but you’re just too tired (and ironically, too stressed) to get motivated.
People often stay in jobs they don’t like with long commutes because they are financially tied to their job or simply don’t think they can quit and find a better job. This is what Why Not 3 is all about — helping people who want to turn their passion into their career. Maybe you love your job, but can’t find a balance between working and life. Why Not 3 is also here to help with that. Later in the blog post, I give some tips about reducing stress and finding your work-life balance.
2) Missing knowledge about de-stressing.
What do you do to de-stress? For a while, I thought doing absolutely nothing while watching re-runs of Friends was the epitome of de-stressing. No doubt about it, that’s very fun and relaxing but it leads to a vicious cycle of laziness. I had the wrong idea about de-stressing.
To get rid or even reduce your chronic stress, you can’t simply just turn off the stress for a couple hours each day while watching TV, or napping, or whatever your guilty pleasure is.
If the only time you allow yourself to de-stress is when you’re watching TV THEN your mind will begin to crave watching TV because it’s “happy and relaxed time” THEN as a result, you’ll watch a lot more TV which is completely counterproductive.
Watching copious amounts of TV sucks out your time…and why are a lot of people stressed? Because they say they have no time!
This is not only about TV but about any unhealthy and unproductive behaviors you may go to for de-stressing. It could be a few too many martinis every night or binge eating your favorite foods.
I had to learn (and teach my brain) that it’s okay to allow myself to relax outside of my dedicated “relaxing activities.” Because, in all honesty, it’s not realistic to only allow yourself to relax only while on vacation or watching TV if you want to rid yourself of chronic stress. We all must train our brains to relax all the time, not just while vegging out on the couch.
Think about it, if you allow yourself to relax 2 hours while watching TV or 2 weeks while you’re on vacation, then you’re only relaxed 2 out of every 24 hours or 2 out of 52 weeks a year. My friends, that is most definitely not effective de-stressing. Everyone (myself included) severely underestimates how stressed they actually are. Just because you know how to unwind at the end of the workday doesn’t mean you aren’t stressed.
What if you could relax during activities that you think are stressful? Think about stress free driving to work, answering emails, talking to your boss, or looking for a new job. Just imagine some activities that used to be stressful holding no weight over you! You can get started on your journey to reduced stress with some tips I give later in the blog post. You really can make it through most days without chronic stress, I promise.
3) An increasingly faster way of life.
Back in the good ol’ days it used to take people weeks or months to communicate via snail mail. Now we can talk to each other in seconds. Many entrepreneurs or working people have to be available 24/7 to their job. With the growing technology, convenience, and faster way of life, you’re expected to be ready to go all the time.
People are sending emails and texts at red lights and don’t stop working even when flying across the globe. WiFi accessibility has skyrocketed over recent years. While that’s great, it also means it’s harder to disconnect.
This is something we’ll have to adapt to as entrepreneurs, CEOs, movie makers, stay at home parents, students, and whoever else. We just need to learn how to chillax in a busy world. Yes, I also give you some tips on how to help with this one.
How can I stop being stressed?
I won’t lie to you and say it’s easy or requires no effort. However, the tips I’m about to share with you and Why Not 3 in general is here to help you reduce stress. You can learn from our trials and hopefully connect back with us and tell us your successes!
1) Do a calming exercise, every day.
Health professionals have been proclaiming for years that exercise can help disorders such as depression and anxiety. Exercise is also helpful for stress, but certain exercises may be better than others. For example yoga has been studied to reduce stress and anxiety extremely effectively. People who suffer from chronic stress and anxiety claim that Hatha yoga and various forms of Hot Yoga help them calm down.
Being a yoga teacher myself, I can vouch for the fact yoga teaches you to be calm in all aspects of your life. This is especially true for yoga in the morning. Many people feel that when they step off the mat after class, they’ll be relaxed and refreshed for the whole day to come.
If money is an issue, simply type in “at home yoga routine” on YouTube and you’ll find enough videos to last you a lifetime. Many yoga studios offer unlimited free classes in exchange for your time helping out around the studio. Simply call your local studio and ask!
2) Subscribe to the Why Not 3 reading list.
Lova Kremer, founder of Why Not 3, sends out regular emails chalk full of time management tips, inspirational stories, and personal information about how he manages his busy lifestyle. If you’re looking for free, quality, and practical information then you should definitely subscribe. The Why Not 3 book also has all the information you need to really reduce your stress and keep your life on track. You can sign up for the email list right here.
3) Start meditating.
I know this is what you read in every self-help book, article, and website. So maybe it’s time to start if you don’t already? Meditation can be really daunting for beginners…so we wrote a blog post about it to help you get started. Check out “Meditation for those that can’t sit still.” Meditation helps you to be present, which is essential for those of you who stress about past and future events.
4) Visit your doctor.
Do you feel like you have stress about being stressed out? If your stress is out of control and you feel anxious, then you could actually have an anxiety disorder. Your doctor can help control your symptoms and set you on the road to recovery. It can be painstakingly slow to find a treatment that works for anxiety, but your doctor is your best starting point.
5) Try a therapist or counselor.
Believe it or not, you can visit a mental health professional even if you don’t have a mental illness like dissociative identity disorder or depression. While they can be pricey, a counselor can help you work through your problems and possibly help you determine why you’re stressed. If you have anxiety from stress, a therapist can help you plan a healthy lifestyle, teach you coping techniques, and help you along the path of life. If you’re so stressed you don’t know what to do or where to start, I highly recommend a mental health professional.
If you can’t afford one, you can Google search for assistance programs in your area for those who need mental health assistance. Once upon a time, I needed a therapist and couldn’t afford one so I reached out to my school. They ended up paying for almost all of my sessions…sometimes you just need to ask.
6) Manage your time wisely.
This could be a whole blog post in itself. To get the most out of this tip, I recommend you use a daily planner such as the Passion Planner or buy an agenda and keep it updated. Why Not 3 is not affiliated with Passion Planner.
7) Connect with us at Why Not 3!
First, start with our Silent Day. This is one day a week where you disconnect from everything. Does this sound hard? It sounded impossible to me until I read the blog post written by Lova Kremer about his silent day and how he disconnects. Everything is explained step by step. Read it here now!
Comment on this blog post or send us an email with your questions. Browse through our blogs. We exist as a team to help people be less stressed, so please don’t hesitate to connect with us.
I sincerely hope this blog post brought you more understanding about stress and gave you some tips for beating stress and anxiety. Remember that if you’re stressed, you don’t have to be. There is help available to you, and lots of it is free!
Are you ready to kick stress to the curb for good? What you need is practical advice that you can actually apply to your life. Click the Get Started button on the top right hand corner of your page right now. You’ll get exclusive info from the Why Not 3 team to help you relieve stress. We’ll help you continue your journey towards a life with less stress and more productivity, all for free!
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By Cassandra Wilson
Aschbacher, K., O’Donovan, A., Wolkowitz, O. M., Dhabhar, F. S., Su, Y., & Epel, E. (2013). Good stress, bad stress and oxidative stress: insights from anticipatory cortisol reactivity. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 38(9), 1698-1708.
Michalsen, A., Grossman, P., Acil, A., Langhorst, J., Lüdtke, R., Esch, T., … & Dobos, G. (2005). Rapid stress reduction and anxiolysis among distressed women as a consequenceof a three-month intensive yoga program. Medical Science Monitor, 11(12), CR555-CR561.