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We live in an age where stress is something that feels almost expected. While it’s easy to think of stress as normal, it’s important to recognize stress as something that doesn’t have to be an automatic response.

Creating a Chain Reaction

One reason stress feels ever-present our lives is we often look at it as a one-time event, something that starts and stops like a car driving down the street through a series of stoplights. When these events occur with frequency, it’s easy to see a stressor in each new event. Unfortunately, your body sees stress is a much different way. Each time the body and/or mind feels stressed, it releases cortisol and adrenaline into the body, creating an extended fight-or-flight situation.

A Caveman Approach

A fight-or-flight moment makes the body think there is immediate danger, and your safety depends on outrunning the danger. In these moments, the part of the brain responsible for decision-making shifts into its most primitive mode (the lizard brain). It only knows survival. At this moment, the body pauses all decision-making and stops digestive and immune system functions. In moments of extreme danger, this is a risk the body is willing to take. The scenario becomes serious when stressors trigger this response each time you feel stress, creating dangerous long-term problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, anxiety and other disorders.

Defining True Stress

With so many potential things to stress about, it becomes easy to feel little to no control over situations. The good news is our brains are more sophisticated than the brain of our caveman relatives but it’s up to us to determine if something is truly life threatening or if a we are allowing a situation to escalate into stress undeserved by our body and mind.

Creating New Habits

When feelings are heightened, it’s easy to feel how one stressor feeds into another. The good news is the opposite can also happen. In examples of day-to-day stress (traffic, commutes, gossip) there lies the possibility of choice. Will you allow traffic, delays and situations to get under your skin or will you choose another perspective? The choice is yours in the moment, but the benefit of cumulative and long-term health is immense in the form of lower blood pressure, lower cortisol levels and less strain on the immune system.

Steps to Incorporating Stress Relief

  • Protect your health through regular check-ins with your primary care doctor
  • Take breaks from the constant competition and feedback of social media
  • Get outside in nature and move your body
  • Check out free resources to relieve stress
  • Focus on the present moment
  • Record your thoughts, emotions and moments of gratitude in a journal
  • Look for the joy and fun in life
  • Take five minutes to meditate in silence

To learn more about scheduling a potentially life-saving screening, contact the Primary Care Physicians at Summit Medical Center by visiting our physician directory or calling us at 307-232-6600.

Remember, you always have a choice in your healthcare. Summit Medical Center offers orthopedics; ear, nose and throat; pediatrics, gastrointestinal; primary care; oral surgery; general surgery, pulmonary; and plastic surgery to the Casper, Wyoming, area. With cost-competitive, high-quality medical care and superior patient service, Summit Medical Center is changing the delivery of healthcare in Casper and beyond.

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