Friday, March 11, 2011

"Stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness..."

My post tonight is very fitting for what is happening my life right now...stress. Finishing nursing school is no cake walk. I have three more classes to go and I cannot say how thrilled I am to be finishing with Med/Surg next Friday and onto Pediatrics (which is not my cup of tea either...) For the past week and a half, I have been studying non-stop about the urinary system and its disorders (acute and chronic renal failure, UTI's, kidney stones, etc.), prostate cancer and BPH, and HIV/AIDS. Next week for my final, the glorious 100 question test will consist of all of those plus cardiac illnesses/disorders/dysrhythmias, lung cancer, throat/neck cancer, and liver failure. Ugh with a double side of ick!

One question always remains though...Why do we choose to accept stress?

There is good stress and bad stress as most people already know. They are pretty self explanatory but what if I told you there is such thing as inevitable, imposed, and chosen stress?

Inevitable Stress- A woman is pregnant with her first child and all the horror stories she hears about how much is hurts and the time, energy, and sweat that goes into labor itself...she knows that day is coming. It's inevitable that the day will come when she must endure the 12+ hours of labor (For most first timers...not always the case...)

Imposed Stress- Someone puts stress onto our shoulders. The kids get rowdy or don't clean the house when you have 30 people coming over for Thanksgiving dinner or your loved one comes home in a bad mood and takes it out on you. You aren't causing the stress to yourself, someone is "graciously" doing that for you.

Chosen Stress- I chose to go to nursing school. I knew the hell I was about to endure (I actually think hell would be a nicer place than nursing school) and I knew that I would have no life for a while. I chose the stress and nonsense that is nursing school.

But why do we chose to accept it? Any of it? We each have our own answers for that. We can't avoid it. It will appear in one way or another but there are some ways we can decrease it...

Did you know that stress can help contribute to hypertension (high blood pressure), fluid retention, migraines, heart problems, early aging, and even going into labor too early? Yikes!

Do you ever wonder why people tell you to workout in the morning when you wake up? Well, here is why...

Several hours before you wake up, your hypothalamus (base of your brain) sends a signal to your adrenal glands (located on top of your kidneys which produce natural adrenaline) and tell them to start pumping cortisol, a hormone that acts as a wake up signal among other things. Cortisol levels rise within your body until you come into a state of consciousness and have what is known as an "Oh shit...another day I gotta get up" response (maybe this is why many heart attacks and strokes occur between 6am and 8am). However, cortisol is a long-acting hormone which is why we can hang out under the covers for those extra 5 minutes without losing steam.

When you go to the gym after you wake up and have breakfast (your morning meal should be eaten within an hour of waking up) you are already "burning" off the stress that has tensed up in your body overnight. As you are working out, your body releases endorphins which helps you be in a better mood and energized throughout the day!

A great stress reliever workout? Yoga! Meditation! Want to kick it up a notch? Hot yoga! Burn some extra calories sweating in that heat while you focus on your breathing and becoming one with your body. When breathing, close your eyes and try taking nice, big, deep breaths in through your nose and out through pursed lips. Kickboxing or MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) is also great and one of my favorites. Nothing like a swift kick or upper cut to a punching bag to start your day off right! There are classes at nearly every gym including mine!

Another way you can reduce stress? Have "me" time! Do something you like to do! Whether that be walking your dogs in a park, laying in your bed watching a movie, doing a craft, or having a glass of wine. Get a facial or a massage, even if it's just a 30 minute one. Getting the knots and tension out of your body can help you relax more and put you in a better mood. Check out the spa that I go to here. Take a "mental health" day every once in a while! You deserve it!

One last recommendation to relieve stress? Take a vacation! Travel somewhere you have never been but always wanted to go. Whether that be a Winter Wonderland or an exotic beach or a country overseas filled with it for yourself! Take some time away from your chosen or imposed stress. Enjoy it while it lasts!

My trip to Oahu, Hawaii in 2005

One of my stops on my 2009 cruise- St. Maarten!

Another stop on the cruise- St. Thomas!

So just remember that no matter what kind of stress you have in your life, it's not okay to have too much of it. Call up a friend or curl up with your favorite book and a glass of wine to unwind after a stressful day. You want to make sure you have enough energy to keep walking on your own two feet...

Until the next step bloggers...

1 comment:

  1. I really liked this post. I am in nursing school as well at the University of Arizona. I graduate in December (whooo!!) and it has been one heck of a ride. I completely agree with you when you say "I actually think hell would be a nicer place than nursing school"!