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Communicate more effectively about day-to-day issues.  Manage and resolve conflicts.  Build a more productive and satisfying relationship.  Prevent chronic-marital discord.  Couple Communication is grounded in the fact that an intimate partnership, which is able to face life's concerns and solve problems effectively, is a fundamental resource for coping with relationship stress.

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Research has shown that people suffering from stress-related disorders tend to show hyperactivity in a particular preferred system, such as skeletal-muscular, cardiovascular, or gastrointestinal system. There are two types of stress:  (1) Event Stress caused by some singular experience and (2) Chronic Stress caused by the continuation of a stressful experience that has not been resolved and continues to re-occur.  For example, the evidence shows that chronic stress can result in muscle tension and fatigue for some people. For others, it can contribute to stress hypertension, body soreness, migraine headaches, upset stomach, ulcers, or chronic diarrhea, colds, and insomnia.  Almost every system in your body can be damaged by stress.  Suppression of the reproduction system can cause amenorrhea (cessation of menstruation) and failure to ovulate in women, impotency in men, and loss of libido in both.


* Loss of insulin during the stress response may be a factor in the onset of adult diabetes.

* Stress suspends tissue repair and remodeling, which in turn causes decalcification of the bones, osteoporosis, and susceptibility to fractures.Inhibition of immune and inflammatory systems makes you more susceptible to colds and flu and can exacerbate some diseases such as cancer and AIDS.

* In addition, a prolonged stress response can worsen conditions such as arthritis, chronic pain, and diabetes.

The relationship between chronic stress, and disease

Stress and health, are closely linked. It is well know that stress, either event or chronic, can induce disorders affecting the mind and body. Immediate disorders such as dizzy spells, anxiety, tension, sleeplessness, nervousness and muscle cramps can all result in chronic health problems. Over just a few generations, the threat of infectious diseases such as typhoid, pneumonia, and polio have been replaced with such modern plagues as cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis, respiratory disorders such as asthma and emphysema, and a pervasive incidence of depression.There are varying opinions on whether stress actually has any telling impact on cardiovascular ailments or not. Research shows that in certain individuals stress does contribute to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other cardiac risk factors, such as addictions and obesity. Stress induced or not, suffering from cardiac conditions is in itself quite stressful for most individuals and their families.It is evident that people who live in chronically stressed-out conditions are more likely to take up smoking, alcohol and substance abuse (drugs, prescribed or illegal), fall into eating disorders (unhealthy food habits) and inertia. High blood pressure/Hypertension: It has been medically proven that emotional and psychological disturbances due to acute or chronic causes of stress precipitate high blood pressure in human beings.Immune related disorders

*Stress is known to worsen many immune related medical conditions, including diabetes. Cortisol produced during stress situations may suppress the body’s immune response, increasing susceptibility to infectious diseases.

Asthma:  In asthma patients, a stressful situation can make the airways over-reactive, restrictive and precipitate an attack.

Ulcers and Digestive Disorders: In severe stress conditions blood supply to the stomach is restricted, hampering normal digestive functions.

Migraines/Headaches/Backaches: Stress is detrimental to the body and can cause back pains, neck pains and headaches.Cancer and

Neuro-Degenerative Disorders: Research conducted in the early 1990s showed stress induced   reduction in (white blood cells that destroy cancer cells.

 Breast Cancer: A study on women suffering from breast cancer confirmed the fact that stressors cause lowest levels of natural-killer-cell activity in the body.

Stress can affect you from all sides

Emotionally, stress expresses itself through depression, fear, anxiety, anger and lack of confidence, cynicism, and lack of humor. 

Social signs of stress include loneliness, withdrawal, aggressiveness, and rejection. 

Intellectually: stress shows up as inability to concentrate, feeling apathetic or bored, lacking creativity, and difficulty making decisions

Emotions: When arguments, disagreements, and conflicts cause changes in your personal life.  Taking responsibility for another person’s actions is a major stressor.

Illness: Catching a cold, breaking an arm, a skin infection, a sore back, are all changes in your body condition. 

Pushing Your Body Too Hard:  The body’s fight to stay healthy in the face of the increased energy that you are expending is major stress.

Common Symptoms of Stress

Physical: fatigue, headache, insomnia, muscle aches/stiffness (especially neck, shoulders and low back), heart palpitations, chest pains, abdominal cramps, nausea, trembling, cold extremities, flushing or sweating and frequent colds. 

Mental: decrease in concentration and memory, indecisiveness, mind racing, going blank, confusion, loss of sense of humor.  Emotional: anxiety, nervousness, depression, anger, frustration, worry, fear, irritability, impatience, short temper. 

Behavioral: pacing, fidgeting, nervous habits (nail biting, foot-tapping), increased eating , smoking, drinking, crying, yelling, swearing, blaming and even throwing things or hitting.

The Types of Stress

Stress can be classified into external and internal and influence your choices and responses. External stressors are stressors that impact your life and are caused by situations or actions of others or things.  External stress generates Social Influences on your reaction to external triggers.  Internal stressors are self-generated and develop from your beliefs, behaviors and actions.  They are termed Psychological Influences

External stressors include:

*job lost


*illness or death

* Physical environment

* Social (dealing with difficult people)

* Organizational: rules, regulations, red tape, deadlines.

* Major life events: death of a relative, lost job, promotion, new baby.

* Daily hassles: commuting, misplacing keys, mechanical breakdowns.

Internal stressors include:


*Lifestyle choices

*Negative self-talk

*Mind traps: unrealistic expectations, taking things personally, all-or-nothing thinking, exaggeration and rigid thinking.

Mastering Stress

 To master stress, you need to change your behavior, choices, and all-or-nothing thinking. You have to figure out what you are doing that is contributing to your problem and change it. Here are ways to do so:

  • Change your behavior
    • Wear clothes that are comfortable, that are not tight and allow you to breathe properly. When you look into the mirror (you know you do so), you see yourself comfortably dress.  You are fixing your stress.
    • Drink less caffeine (coffee, tea, colas, chocolate).
    • Well-balanced diet; avoid all drugs including tobacco, alcohol (apart from occasional social use), tranquillizers and sleeping pills.
    • Eat less junk food and or fast foods; eat plenty of fiber; eat fresh fruit and vegetables (with a crunch to them, or raw).
    • Chew your food longer, eat slowly, pay attention to what you are eating. Set up a memory system of what you ate.
  • Change your thinking
    • Mind reading (thinking you know what someone else is thinking).
    • Be more positive in your view of life.
    • See problems as opportunities.
    • Making mountains out of molehills .
    • Laugh more.

Next time you feel stressed remember stressed is just desserts spelled backwards…so instead of feeling stressed go treat yourself to mind nourishing foods…some fresh fruit…and forget the can eat dessert before the salad or main course.

Change your lifestyle choices

    • Regular exercise; at least 30 minutes, three times per week, but don’t overdo it! Its sounds obsolete: ‘a healthy mind in a healthy body’, but nevertheless, e.g. Jogging, swimming, cycling or a brisk walk will do.
    • Adequate sleep; in general adults need 8 hours sleep. Figure out what you need, and then get it. It is important to get your sleep at night, and (just as important) learn to relax at times during the day.
    • Leisure time (do something for yourself everyday).
    • Relaxation exercises (e.g., meditation, self-hypnosis).
  • Change the situations you are in
    • Avoid hazardous situations where you may be at risk from chemical, biological or physical assault.
    • Time and money management.
    • Assertiveness.
    • Problem-solving.
    • Possibly leaving a job or a relationship.

By getting to the root causes of your stress, you can not only relieve current problems and symptoms but you can also prevent recurrences. For example, if you keep becoming frustrated over arguments with your children, you might discover that the cause of your upset is not their behavior but your unrealistic expectations. By modifying your standards, you might find the children’s actions no longer bother you.

10 Practical and down-to-earth strategies

  1. Decrease or discontinue caffeine (coffee, tea, and colas, chocolate).
  2. Regular exercise (at least 30 minutes, three times per week).
  3. Relaxation/Meditation
  4. Sleep (figure out what you need, and then get it).
  5. Time-outs and leisure (do something for yourself everyday).
  6. Realistic expectations.
  7. Reframing
  8. Belief systems.
  9. Ventilation/Support system.
  10. Humor.