mardi 16 septembre 2014

STRESS: CAUSES AND HOW TO REDUCE IT

STRESS IN OLDER MEN
A NEW DEFINITION OF OLD
This morning after reading an article published from Oregon State University, I conclude:
AN OLDER PERSON IS ONE WHO CANNOT DEAL WITH STRESS!
While it may sound farcical, there is an element of truth to it, and much science behind it.
Now the article:
The study looked at two types of stress: the everyday hassles of such things as Commuting, job stress or arguments with family and friends; AND significant life events such as job loss or the death of a spouse.
In my studies about immigrants and health, I have found that Immigration, worse if you are forced to emigrate, but even welcomed immigration is a very powerful life event, much closer in stress level to the death of a spouse.
Both types of stress seemed to be harmful to the health of the group of men studied.
The researcher has this to say: It is not the number of hassles that does you in, it is the perception of them being a big deal that causes problems. Taking things in stride may protect you.
She hit the nail on its  head.
Here she is beginning to sound like, Kabat-Zinn talking about Mindfulness or the Molecular Scientist turned Monk, Mathieu Ricard, about dealing with every day events in life.
At the end of the study, 15 years later, one in two the people who reported stressful events had died, whereas only one in three of the people died who reported few stressful life events. When it came to dealing with daily hassles, only onei in three  with fewer hassles had died, whereas the number climbs to one in two with moderate hassles and for those with most hassles, two out of three had died.
MORAL OF THE STORY IS:  EVERYDAY HASSLES ARE EVERY PRESENT AND HARD TO AVOID BUT DO A FAVOUR TO YOUR HEALTH BY TAKING CONTROL OF YOUR ATTITUDES ABOUT THEM! Be it a long line at the department store, a traffic jam or a long wait at the airport or train station.
In the modern world, COPING SKILLS are what is important, as my brother Joe would say: Don't make mountains of molehills!
Women are not spared either:
Stress Decreases Attractiveness In Women's Faces, Study Finds. (that is for another time to discuss)

That the stress is related to Ageing is well known. The Australian Scientist Elizbeth Blackburn working in the USA won a Nobel Prize in Medicine for her work on Telomeres, demonstrating how the stress affects the body at the cellular level.
Accelerated telomere shortening in response to life stress
Here is the abstract:
Numerous studies demonstrate links between chronic stress and indices of poor health, including risk factors for cardiovascular disease and poorer immune function. Nevertheless, the exact mechanisms of how stress gets “under the skin” remain elusive. We investigated the hypothesis that stress impacts health by modulating the rate of cellular aging. Here we provide evidence that psychological stress— both perceived stress and chronicity of stress—is significantly associated with higher oxidative stress, lower telomerase activity, and shorter telomere length, which are known determinants of cell senescence and longevity, in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from healthy premenopausal women. Women with the highest levels of perceived stress have telomeres shorter on average by the equivalent of at least one decade of additional aging compared to low stress women. These findings have implications for understanding how, at the cellular level, stress may promote earlier onset of age-related diseases.
It is well known that women who care for a disabled child ages a decade while doing so!



What is STRESS?
No one needs to be told, do you feel stressed? The answer would be an universal YES. But what is it?
Before 1955, when the young Canadian Medical Doctor appropriated the term, it was used in Physics to describe the strain applied to a wire.
Now the term is universal, applies to human beings and also animals and caged birds or restrained aquatic forms such as Orcas.
But most people are not aware of the fact that not all STRESS is bad and that there are two distinctive forms of STRESS: DISTRESS AND EUSTRESS
Every one enjoys a bit of a stress, to remain motivated, challenged or productive. When this gets out of hand, when it becomes intolerable and out of control it becomes DISTRESS.
STRESS TOLERANCE is what we need to learn. Some of us are adept at it intuitively. Women are attracted to men who are perceived to have less stress and vice versa.
(I can never forget a Turkish Immigrant high profile business woman telling me that she sleeps with her iPhone on, and I thought: No wonder why you sleep alone!)
We all have to learn to manage the symptoms of stress, not to eliminate it completely. All ancient philosophies, Buddhist as well as Yogic, teach you skills but one has to practice it.
Just think about it, something as simple as the Yogic Breathing exercise such as Pranayama, calms one down; but YOU NEED TO PRACTICE IT!
This is a published summary of WAYS TO BECOME STRESS-RESISTANT. Most people who are STRESS prone would see how difficult it is to practice some of these, such as not being a perfectionist, not feeling guilty. Here they are, practice is and you would become stress tolerant as well:
STOP FEELING GUILTY
BE DECISIVE
AVOID BEING A PERFECTIONIST
SET PRIORITIES FOR YOURSELF
STOP PROCRASTINATING
PRAISE YOURSELF
LIVE AN OPTIMAL LIFESTYLE


It is also good to explore the sources of STRESS in your life, which can be summarized as N U T S. Here is the research behind it
in one interesting experiment, researchers measured the stress hormone levels of experienced parachute jumpers.
Jumping out of a plane surely had to be stressful! Strangely, their stress hormone levels were normal.
Stress hormone levels were then measured in both people jumping for the first time and their instructors. They found a big difference! On the day before the jump, student’s levels were normal while instructors’ levels were very high. On the jump day, students’ levels were very high, while instructor’s levels were normal.
They concluded that 24 hours before the jump, the instructors’ anticipation resulted in higher stress hormone levels because they knew what to expect. The students were oblivious!
But on jump day, the novelty and unpredictability of the situation made the students stress hormone levels sky rocket!
Over the next 30 years researchers conducted experiments showing that although the type of stressors resulting in the release of stress hormones are different for everyone there are common elements to situations that elevate stress hormones in everyone.
In essence, they discovered the recipe for stress: N.U.T.S.!
Novelty
Unpredictability
Threat to the ego
Sense of Control


When writing the above, I am excited and grateful for the conversations about KLEISHA and its reduction with friends in Malaysia.
In the Yogic Philosophy compiled by Patanjali, five KLEISHA, structural defects of the mind are mentioned.
Control of the above is a step to HAPPINESS and of course in the context of this article, the control of STRESS
Ignorance
EGO
Aversion
Attachment
Fear of Change
I am fortunate enough to work with American Indians and live among them while I am with them, and have marveled at their ability to develop a tolerance against a STRESS which is historical, continuing, long lasting and generational.

I realized that they laughed a lot, more than any other cultural groups I am familiar with. Secondly they had a great concept of RELATIVES  mitakuye Oyasin  We are all Related
These ancient customs which they brought it to fore, to confront the realities of their fatal contact with outsiders, had scientific basis, I was to learn later.
I am sure that is the scientific explanation of why KLEISHA REDUCTION also works, by its practice of suppressing the fires of the Structural defects
(all the slides from a lecture I gave to a group of doctors}