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pressure? Identify what you
can control. - by Jennifer
Worrying to death is no longer just a catchy expression. Stability
has become a luxury to many as jobs and the economy have taken a hit
this year. With more challenges in life, the stress factor has
become a major concern as evidence continues to mount that people
are not taking care of themselves.
Scope of the
The American Heart Association released a report
in January saying that coronary heart disease and stroke are both
down by about 25 percent each since 1999. This is good news, but
they still remain the No. 1 and No. 3 killers in America today.
One of the most preventable contributing risk factors is stress.
It is not known if stress alone is responsible for cardiovascular
disorders, but health professionals agree that stress plays a key
"Stress is directly related to increasing your heart
rate, blood pressure, cholesterol levels and causes the
fight-or-flight response," said Tammy Butler, a registered nurse at
Sacred Heart's Cardiac Rehabilitation Center.
This has been a
rocky year, with soaring gas prices, a faltering housing market, the
impending presidential election, unstable jobs and many other
factors that contribute to the recession. While it's too early in
the year to back up the hard times with health statistics, it is
safe to assume that the population in general has been more
"It's really going to start surfacing around the
holidays," Butler said. "I suspect that you will see more heart
attacks and a lot more alcohol intake."
mechanisms for stress - overconsumption of food, alcohol and
caffeine, compulsive spending and smoking - all sabotage physical
health and provide no long-term correction of a stressful situation.
How it got so bad
Since World War II, the
modern conveniences that have come along to "make life easier" have
also boosted the expectations for productivity. Humans have been
able to achieve more in their day, but the difference is that humans
cannot realistically perform up to par with technology.
expectations that people and society now carry have caused people to
neglect themselves and adopt harmful behaviors.
lifestyle blunders have in part evolved into the top causes of
death. Many have had enough and are now implementing positive
changes into their lives. "You are no good to anyone and anything
else unless you are good to yourself," Butler said.
How we can turn it around
On one positive note, Butler
said that smoking is on the decline in Florida. With the price of a
pack of cigarettes about the same as a gallon of gas, it's not
surprising. "Education is one of the best ways to help people ward
off these diseases," she said.
In an effort to do that,
people are using the tools at the cardiac rehab facility to live
healthier and are turning to more unconventional ways to learn
stress management skills.
Alice McCall, a Navarre-based
professional energy healer and energy counselor holding a bachelor's
of science in psychology, helps her clients with health, emotional,
career, relationship and spiritual issues. She also counsels people
"If you're stressed out, you just don't function
well," McCall said. "You make bad decisions and you tend to be more
McCall attributes people becoming
overwhelmed to lacking time, support, resources and motivation to
get through situations.
"It's a perception issue," she said,
explaining that when people are bombarded with obligation, the
feeling of being overwhelmed is what they choose to focus on. "I
want people to start realizing that they have a choice and don't
have to hold on to the perception that what they are dealing with is
not manageable," McCall said. To do this, she said that people must
shift the way that they think. When confronted with situations that
seem out of one's control, she recommends the following:
not hold on to a worry or fear. The emotions are unproductive and a
waste of energy.
• Slow it down and take control of what stresses you. Less is
• Be proactive by incorporating things in life that alleviate
stress. Do one thing every day to take care of yourself. Her
favorite is meditation.
• Shift the way you think right away by taking two minutes to
breathe deeply from your lower stomach and repeat a calming phrase
to yourself, like "calm, calm, calm" or "heal, heal, heal." "Breath
is powerful," she said.
Mentally, McCall said that people
can benefit greatly from making an appointment with themselves every
day to do some internal inventory on what is causing them angst,
looking for patterns and taking responsibility for their
Physically, Butler said that the human body
was meant to be in motion. People should make a commitment to walk,
clear their minds and stop being inside of a building and in front
of a screen. They should also take control of their body's
"You may not be able to change your genetic
material, but what we put in our mouths and how we conduct
ourselves, our happiness," Butler said. "We have some say over these
The underlying message in managing stress is taking
control of the situations that you can and letting go of ones that
"This form that we were given is a gift and if you
abuse it, you lose it," Butler said.
to learn how she can help you master this topic - or transform other
health, emotion, and spiritual issues. Free consultations are
all new clients to learn how Alice's work is directly tailored to
address your areas of concern. Don't wait - step onto your Healing