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The Top 5 Most Stressful Life Events

Posted 7/2/2015 by UH Blog

If you have trouble managing your stress, we have a number of traditional and holistic ways to help.

According to Stress Resilience Specialist Heidi Weiker, MSSA, your stored-up stress can contribute to symptoms like:

  • Inflammation
  • A compromised immune system
  • Digestion issues
  • Lower bone density in women
  • Loss of libido and sleep
  • Stronger emotional reactions from weariness to anxiety and agitation

“Day-to-day stress takes its toll on everyone,” she said.

According to Weiker, a person’s body instinctually responds to threats and changes. First, you’re primed by the release of stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol and go into fight-or-flight mode. Afterward, your body returns to homeostasis.

“We’re constantly bombarded by threats and changes, but because we don’t usually literally fight or run, we stay reactive,” she says. “We’re bathed and flooded in stress hormones.”

The top five most stressful life events – in no particular order – include:

  • Death of a loved one
  • Divorce
  • Moving
  • Major illness or injury
  • Job loss

To alleviate symptoms and manage stress, Weiker recommends these three steps:

1. Take Action: Your body is primed to act, so go ahead and physically move.

“Contract your muscles, release and shake it out. You can march in place or wring a towel – 30 to 60 seconds will reboot your body and return you to homeostasis,” says Weiker.

2. Breathe: Hit the pause button and tune into yourself. Consider using guided imagery and mindfulness to engage in the moment. Being present will realign the body.

“Think ‘I am here; it is what it is.’ It’s about acceptance, not control,” she says.

3. Feel Good: Take 30 seconds to feel good. It’ll release the same endorphins you get when you exercise.

“Think about what you’re grateful for,” Weiker says. “Tap or sing along to a song. I tell my clients to keep Play-Doh at their desks and take a minute to play.”

Research shows that using this type of framework for even 5 to 10 minutes a day will improve your health, longevity and productivity.

"Not one of us can’t spare five minutes a day; it’s a choice for health” says Weiker.

University Hospitals Connor Integrative Health Network’s S.M.A.R.T.™ (Stress Management and Resilience Training) Program can provide additional tips and practices for managing stress. It’s an eight-week series led by experts on stress resilience.

“If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for others. Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish – it’s a responsibility,” Weiker says.

Heidi Weiker, MSSA, is a Stress Resilience Specialist, Life Coach and HeartMath Interventionist at UH Connor Integrative Health Network. You can request an appointment with Weiker or any integrative medicine provider online.

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