Stress Can Kill You

Health fads and fitness gurus preach endlessly the benefits of a well rounded diet with a regular exercise program.  Which is great!  I completely advocate for nutritious food and daily movement.  But they’re missing one of the most important – if not the most important – part of your health.

Stress management.

Without stress management, the rest of your health becomes irrelevant.  Yes, you can quite literally die from unmanaged stress.  Stress can hurt quite literally every aspect of your health.  By learning the effects of stress on the body, it’ll become easier to recognize and thus simple to treat.

(Just a heads-up: this post is full of science terminology which I did my best to simplify to its most comprehensible.  If you’re looking for the inspirational aspect, skip to the last few paragraphs!)

The Musculoskeletal system is more commonly associated with stress, though still under tended.    When the body is stressed, this system’s natural reaction is to tense up muscles in order to prevent against injury.  Typically, your neck, shoulder, and back muscles are the ones to take the brunt of your stress.  Because of their central location, tense muscles in these areas cause back pain, severe headaches, and promote stress related disorders.

Effects of stress on the body
taken from APA article

Respiratory side effects of stress typically revolve around labored breathing.  This isn’t typically an issue for most people.  However, for anyone diagnosed with respiratory diseases such as asthma, emphysema, or chronic bronchitis, heavy breathing presents potentially dangerous episodes.  Also, stress-induced labored breathing can evolve into hyperventilation which often accompanies panic attacks.

Closely related to breathing is the cardiovascular system which pumps oxygen and nutrient filled blood throughout the body.  Stress triggers an increase in essentially every area of the body which requires extra blood.  The heart compensates for this need by pumping harder and faster.  Acute stress (also known as the fight-or-flight reflex) is less harmful to the body as it eventually passes, allowing the body’s functions to return to normal.  Chronic stress, on the other hand, lasts for prolonged periods of time and leads to long-term heart conditions including heart attacks, hypertension, and strokes.  Repeated acute stress can also produce these conditions.

Image result for cardiovascular system

As someone with gastrointestinal difficulties, I know first hand how much stress throws the digestive track off the rails.  Initially, stress typically induces one of two coping mechanisms involving food: eat nothing or eat all the things.  Both promote dangerous habits.  Stress triggers acid reflux, general stomach pains, and, in severe cases, stomach ulcers.  Similarly to eating, intestinal difficulties as a result of stress ranges from constipation to diarrhea.

An area of the body many people don’t associate directly with stress is the reproductive system.  For women, stress creates irregular periods and makes PMS symptoms worse (which nobody wants).  For men, chronic stress alters the production of testosterone and sometimes causes erectile dysfunction.  Of course, sex releases endorphins which in turn help make you feel better.  Nevertheless, if your body is far too stressed out to begin with, it can actually disrupt libido (aka sex drive).  While that isn’t a problem to everyone, it could become problematic for couples trying to have a baby.

 

I know.  Lot’s of science and lots of information all at once.  I apologize, but wasn’t it enlightening?  It’s alarming how many physical ailments are caused by mental stress.  I mean, unmonitored stress could literally kill you!

This is exactly why Your Just One More advocates so strongly for self-love and self-care.  There’s a fine line between challenging yourself and pushing yourself over the edge.  Far too many of us end up doing the latter.  Each one of you holds such potential and talent far too valuable to neglect.  If you don’t take time for yourself now, how will you have time  when you desperately need it?  Life is too short to spend it in perpetual stress and agony.  Give yourself a little love and watch how far it’ll carry you.

 

 

 

 

If you need help managing stress, below are listen national help lines and their contact information.  Asking for help is BRAVE, not weak.  And as always, feel free to comment or email me personally.  I’d be happy to talk over anything you’re struggling with.

Crisis Text Line: (US) 741741  /  (Canada) 686868

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (US) 1-800-273-8255

List of international hotlines: http://ibpf.org/resource/list-international-suicide-hotlines

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Information included in this post was collected from the American Psychological Association.  http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-body.aspx

Stay.

September 2017 is World Suicide Prevention month.  Not just America and not just awareness.

World.

Prevention.

This means the entire world has been called to action.  Action means more than tweeting “don’t kill yourself b/c there is more to live for #suicide”.  It’s great that you wanted to kind of be supportive – even though that kind of language is exactly what keeps suicidal or depressed people quiet in the first place – by tweeting, but this only goes so far.  In fact, it might even trigger someone who’s been fighting the voice telling them to do it.  Instead of posting some vague statement under 140 characters, why not really do something about it?

An amazing organization has already taken the initiative.  TWLOHA [To Write Love On Her Arms] has paired up with Classy.org to fundraise $100,000 for treatment and support for those struggling against suicide.  They have 3 options on their webpage (): buy WSPD pack of merchandise, donate directly, or start your own fundraising page.

As someone who’s survived suicidal thoughts/actions and lost friends/colleagues to suicide, there was no hesitation.  Just yesterday I created a fundraising page with the hope of surpassing $500 for others out there who need the love we all have to offer. Below is the link.  I emplore you all to donate, share this post, and do your part in saving lives, including your own.

https://www.classy.org/fundraiser/1096905?is_new=true

If you, yourself are struggling with these thoughts or actions, don’t hesitate to call the suicide hotline (1-800-273-8255), a trusted family member or friend, or even me.  I’m just am email or facebook/Instagram message away.

YOU WILL NEVER BE ALONE.

A Letter to a Lost Little Girl

Dear little girl sitting criss-cross applesauce on the rainbow mat before me,

You sit so quietly at the front of the group, stuck between two obnoxious children who know not the meaning of respect.  I see the way you keep your head slightly lower than the others, how you pull your knees to your chest as tightly as you can.  A buffer – for what, I’m afraid only you and your tormentors know.  Your eyes wide, seeing everything that no one else would’ve taken notice of.  A red shirt.  Tapping a shoe.  A sharp laugh.  It’s simple survival skills: spot the danger, flee for your life.  Our ancestors’ ability to detect and evade danger was sharpened to a fine point.  It had to be, or else the predator would sink its teeth into their necks and end the human race before it started.

But you, my Love, your predators have no fangs or claws to rip into your skin.  They have fists that punch, gestures that sting, and words that bruise.  They may not maim you physically, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t destroyed your heart.  You feel powerless, right?  You think there must be something wrong with you.  That maybe, just maybe, if you were better they would leave you alone.  

But better at what?

My Darling, when I met your warm yet fearful dark eyes in that classroom as you whispered your question to me, my body flooded with compassion.  Your classmates inquired things like favorite movies or favorite characters, but you?  All you wanted to know was that you weren’t the only one.  You were maybe 7 years old, yet already your life was being mutilated by people who had no idea their words and actions could possibly hurt someone.  

All I had time to say to your hurting soul was that you were beautiful and amazing.  People often got picked on if others were jealous of them.  I’m so sorry that I was cut off before I could finish.

Little girl who reached out to someone they saw as an idol, I want you to know that I love you even when it feels like no one does.  I want to let you know there is more to life than ignorant bullies who find life’s biggest thrills in hurting those of us with a heart.  I want you to know that I was bullied all through my middle and high school years, and probably will encounter more of it in the future.  I want you to know that people will come into your life who care for you so much that even when your bullies mark you up with insults and jeers, their love will heal those other injuries before you even realize they’re gone.  I need you to know that you are not alone.  You never will be.  I promise.

Now it’s your turn to promise me something, my beautiful Little Girl with a bright future.  Promise me that you will always keep fighting.  That you will strive for happiness in whatever shape or size you can get your hands on.  That you will acknowledge those harsh interactions, but remember that they can never tarnish your shine.

I offer you all my love.  The only thing left is for you to love yourself, too.

 

New Spoken Word!

Check out this spoken word I just posted.  I was inspired to create this piece by a little girl I met at an author visit.  She had wanted to know if I had been bullied; I said yes, I have.  She then asked how I became so strong.  I honestly had to fight back tears.  I couldn’t believe she looked up to me that way!  I chose to honor her through this piece in the hopes it will give her the strength she – and you – needs to find her own power within.

 

 

Ripped Phonecase

She sits in a deathly silent classroom.  One sound attracting every eye in the room.  “How are you screw up,” they seem to whisper.  “How dare you not be like the rest of us.”  

Her fingers are preoccupied with a piece of plastic sticking off her tattered phone case.  Little tugs and rips had finally taken their toll: the entire back was torn off, exposing a rough layer underneath not ready to be handled by persistent, germy fingers. A little piece of the case comes off between her fingertips.  The extra movement bounces her phone off the desk with cludd that reverberates around the room of quiet students.  Less than a moment and each pair of narrowed eyes snap to the sound.  “How dare she…” “How dare she..”  She drops the little piece to the floor as if nothing had happened.

 

Lurgen Elementary May 2017

In May, I stopped in at Lurgen Elementary School and spoke to the Third, Fourth, and Fifth graders.  It’d had been a while since I’d gotten to do something like this.  I missed it!

Before my presentation, I try to sign two boxes of books for some eager kids!
I think this was the part where I was talking about how important editing your writing was. The teachers were beaming!
After speaking, I was taking questions from the kids. One question asked for a hug, because I had made her day better. How could I say no to that?
Monkey see, monkey do. Everyone else wanted a hug or high five!
Even when the kids were supposed to be returning to their classrooms, a few strayed from the lines to ask me one last question or two.

Amelia Givin Library July 2012

Author Visit at the Amelia Givin Library in Mount Holly Springs, PA.  July 18, 2012 – this was such an exciting opportunity!  

Thank you, Lisa Webber (Children’s Programmer), for a wonderful evening!
signing books at the Amelia Givin Library
Ellie – Amelia Givin Library
Celia – Amelia Givin Library
Shawn – Amelia Givin Library
Benjamin and Nora – Amelia Givin Library

 

 

Emily – Amelia Givin Library

 

 

New Franklin Elementary 2012

I had an author visit with Mr. Cubbage’s fifth grade class at New Franklin Elementary School.  What a wonderful time reading my book to the class!

 

 

Chambersburg Admin 2011

It was a good night at my book signing in Chambersburg on  November 17, 2011. I met some wonderful readers ready to embark on their next reading adventure!

 

 

Trinity United Methodist Craft Show 2011

I had a great time selling and signing books at the craft show at Trinity United Methodist Church on November 12, 2011.

I signed Anna Wilson’s copy of Elves of Zeoch: The Last Two.
Babs Menges bought this book to send to her nephew in Sweden!