Dirk Gaines, MD
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   Stress is something that everyone experiences in their life. It is a
natural response to various situations.   When we experience
stress, our body secretes many hormones in response.
   These include well known hormones such as adrenaline (aka
epinephrine) and cortisol.
   These hormones increase our heart rate, blood pressure and
metabolic activity of tissues and organs throughout our body. The
end results that we get, that rush of energy that helps us with the
task at hand.
     Most people think of physical tasks, such as those seen in
athletes or firefighters. But even mental tasks such as meeting a
deadline at work can cause our body to release these same
hormones in response. This is a natural response and most of the
time, once the object or tasks that caused the stress response is
gone, our body no longer secretes these stress hormones.
What happens if we experience prolonged stress? Is it such a big

Unfortunately, there are both mental and physical consequences
to prolonged stress. Our body cannot maintain this overdrive state
and things start to break down.
•Our immune system becomes weak.
•We lose sleep.
•Our blood pressure rises which overtime, can lead to heart attack,
stroke and even kidney failure.

Sometimes the signs of stress of subtle.
We can be irritable, depressed, or anxious.

Luckily, there are ways to manage stress.
Eating well and getting plenty of sleep have been shown to reduce
stress levels.

Activities such as yoga and tai chi can not only reduce stress but
also increase flexibility and strength.
   For some, participating in religious activities help ease the mind.
   An activity that has been gaining popularity is called mindfulness
meditation and is a great way to manage stress. In a broad sense,
mindfulness meditation is a method to allow one to pay attention to
the present moment, allowing them to be cognizant of their
thoughts and give them ways to reduce harmful thoughts. There is
much more to mindfulness then this simple definition.
    All in all, stress is a natural response but can be damaging to
the body if prolonged. It can also affect us mentally, causing
depression and anxiety. If there is ever a point where these
feelings become overwhelming, consider seeing your local primary
care physician immediately.   Look for resources available online,
at your local library or primary care office for tools to manage