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Always Get Sick After A Stressful Period? Science Says It’s Normal But Preventable

Always Get Sick After A Stressful Period? Science Says It’s Normal But Preventable

The final deadline is looming, the due date is soon! All the pressure is on you as you carefully analyze the work submission while trying to keep the peace in family blues at home. And then it eases by,  you make it! The deadline is over! The crammed headspace is released. And time for an escapade into a breath of relaxation. Just as you lay back and ease down by the poolside planning to make the booking for a retreat beach getaway, you get sick! You sit back and ponder, are you just unlucky? Surely it is known that stress makes you sick ,but how can you fall apart when the stressful job is done! What did you do so wrong now, You passed the tests. Made the deadline? Did the duties?

Luck has very little to do with it. It is called a post-stress condition, where the body’s defenses to ward off inflammation or infections after a stressful event phases out. Just after a strenuous project of any sort that heightens stress levels like, training for a marathon, a final exam, or working on completing a proposal, and just as you have successfully reached the end of the challenging tunnel reaching the limelight you suddenly fall sick!

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The Let Down Effect ClockWork

Marc Schoen, from the UCLA School of Medicine author of, When Relaxation is Hazardous to Your Health, calls this phase the ‘letdown’ reaction. Prostaglandins are released together with stress hormones leading to heart disease, arthritis, cancer, and migraines. What happens is the immune system is on alert and is set to fight. Now when stress starts to subside, the immune system goes on a retreat as well, leaving the body vulnerable to the effects of prostaglandins . Schoen’s states: “Don’t go from 100 miles and hour to a screeching halt.” Instead of launching straight onto the couch or next to the pool, schedule an exercise routine. A few minutes at different intervals during the day is sufficient to keep the immune system boosted. Schoen recommends brain stimulation as well, like crossword puzzles and card games. After this, you may unwind without effects of a crash landing.

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    The best way to avoid this ‘letdown’ phase is preventing strain. When you are under stress pace yourself,get enough sleep,exercise, and eat a healthy diet. Make time for relaxation like rhythmic breathing, meditation and decompress.If you feel that you lack time to adopt healthier habits, this problem has an immediate solution in sixty seconds. Yes, sixty seconds!

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    A study in the American College of Cardiology revealed that sitting for more four hours a day will leave you prone to sickness. If the main reason for not adopting healthier habits is because there is enough time, consider that problem solved in sixty seconds. Take minute walk intervals. Every step counts toward the ten thousand recommended per day.

    According to Dr Nieca Goldberg from the Joan H Tisch Centre for Women’s Health at New Yor University Medical center, when you have stressful episodes there is a need to take breaks and not get engage continuously. Even if you happen to be under extreme stress at work thirty seconds focusing on breathing exercises in between meetings will decompress the stress and avoid your body system to a force shut down keeping your immune system in check.

    Balance physical and mental stimulation in the correct intensity. Physical stimulation like brisk walks or taking the stairway a few times a day will assist. Mental stimulation in the form of mathematical problems. computer games, crossword puzzles  or chess are a critical window according to Schoen and you will emerge feeling refreshed and not down n out!

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    Nena Tenacity

    Nena is passionate about writing. She shares her everyday health and lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on February 25, 2020

    Face Adversity with a Smile

    Face Adversity with a Smile

    I told my friend Graham that I often cycle the two miles from my house to the town centre but unfortunately there is a big hill on the route. He replied, ‘You mean fortunately.’ He explained that I should be glad of the extra exercise that the hill provided.

    My attitude to the hill has now changed. I used to grumble as I approached it but now I tell myself the following. This hill will exercise my heart and lungs. It will help me to lose weight and get fit. It will mean that I live longer. This hill is my friend. Finally as I wend my way up the incline I console myself with the thought of all those silly people who pay money to go to a gym and sit on stationery exercise bicycles when I can get the same value for free. I have a smug smile of satisfaction as I reach the top of the hill.

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    Problems are there to be faced and overcome. We cannot achieve anything with an easy life. Helen Keller was the first deaf and blind person to gain a University degree. Her activism and writing proved inspirational. She wrote, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

    One of the main determinants of success in life is our attitude towards adversity. From time to time we all face hardships, problems, accidents, afflictions and difficulties. Some are of our making but many confront us through no fault of our own. Whilst we cannot choose the adversity we can choose our attitude towards it.

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    Douglas Bader was 21 when in 1931 he had both legs amputated following a flying accident. He was determined to fly again and went on to become one of the leading flying aces in the Battle of Britain with 22 aerial victories over the Germans. He was an inspiration to others during the war. He said, “Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you can’t do this or that. That’s nonsense. Make up your mind, you’ll never use crutches or a stick, then have a go at everything. Go to school, join in all the games you can. Go anywhere you want to. But never, never let them persuade you that things are too difficult or impossible.”

    How can you change your attitude towards the adversity that you face? Try these steps:

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    1. Confront the problem. Do not avoid it.
    2. Deliberately take a positive attitude and write down some benefits or advantages of the situation.
    3. Visualise how you will feel when you overcome this obstacle.
    4. Develop an action plan for how to tackle it.
    5. Smile and get cracking.

    The biographies of great people are littered with examples of how they took these kinds of steps to overcome the difficulties they faced. The common thread is that they did not become defeatist or depressed. They chose their attitude. They opted to be positive. They took on the challenge. They won.

    Featured photo credit: Jamie Brown via unsplash.com

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