Stress… the XXI century silent killer?

By: Marcell Almonte Reynose

On April 19th, 2019, writer Samuel Murrithi published a book titled Stress: The Silent Killer. Why has stress been named “the silent killer”? Does it really honor that name? What can we do to avoid being the “victims” of this “killer”?

We all experience the feeling of stress, and a certain level of stress is a natural response of our bodies. From an evolutionary standpoint, stress was necessary for humanity’s survival. Its primary function is to help us respond to threats to our lives, which was very useful when we shared close quarters with wild predators. But what happens now that we don’t face as many threats as we used to? Stress continues to be a mechanism implemented in our bodies.

If our levels of stress get out of control, it may become a problem for our overall health, mental and physical. How bad can it be? High levels of stress can trigger anxiety or depression, stress can make some underlying conditions worse or even affect the healing process of wounds and the effectiveness of medical treatments.

What are some symptoms of high stress levels? They may be various, from headaches, trouble sleeping, gastrointestinal issues, pain, to increased substance use or the weakening of our immune system. This is why it is very important that we keep our stress in check. This is not easy, since we live in a capitalist society that pushes us into being “productive” no matter what. 

What can we do to cope with stress? There are a lot of recommendations from mental health professionals, and each individual has to find out what is most effective in their particular case, but here are some general tips.

Put a limit to screen time  

We can try not to spend too much time reading about news or reports that might trigger stress, and try not to spend too much time on social media.

Get enough sleep

We can have a good sleep hygiene routine, avoid large meals or beverages like coffee before bed, avoid screen time at least 30 minutes before bed.

Include activities to unwind in our schedule 

If there’s an activity that we enjoy to help us relax -like cycling, hiking, walking, crocheting, puzzles, yoga, meditation, cooking, baking or reading- we can include those into our schedule.

Connect with others

Spending time with loved ones, sharing activities you enjoy with them, or just having conversation, can go a long way towards coping with stress. The Corner has so many amazing drop-ins to join!

Include self-care activities in our routine 

Taking a bubble bath, getting a massage, doing a facial treatment or doing our nails.

Avoid the use of substances

The use of substances, like alcohol and drugs, can make stress symptoms worse.

In conclusion, even when it’s not possible to escape situations that make us feel stressed, we can try to implement the many coping skills that we have available to us to beat the silent killer.

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