Here’s a news flash:  stress can make you sick.

What’s newsworthy about it is that maybe you haven’t gotten the message that stress can have a permanent effect on chronic illness.  Clouds your thinking, screws up your judgment.  Gives you the weepies and angries.  Can take away your will to vacuum the house or cook a meal.  The effects of stress on the mood and memory components of your brain get screwed up, even shut down.  

It’s not just mood; it’s memory, too.

Stress looks like lots of things:  a fight with your partner; anger or hurt at work; having to euthanize your pet (even making the decision); the temperature of your environment; hunger; lack of sleep, and more.  

And our stress reactions aren’t just emotional, they’re physical, too.  For example, my ability, literally, to stand or walk is impacted by the amount I exert myself in a hot environment.  Actually, I don’t even have to exert myself when I’m hot:  the very act of being is enough!

Worst of all are the cognitive impairments suffered from too much stress.  “Chemo brain” is a good example.  While chemotherapy has a decompensating effect on the brain, symptoms can begin as quickly as when a cancer diagnosis is received.  Adele Davidson talks about the relation of stress to chemo brain in her book, Your Brain On Chemo.  I think many our of disabilities’ stress responses mimic chemo brain, certainly my multiple sclerosis does.

I’ve beem talking about “distress”, or “bad stress”; however, we can’t go without “eustress”, or “good stress”.  Unless we stress our minds and bodies in appropriate ways (which differ for each of us) by doing things like walking around the block, carrying the wash down the stairs then folding and it putting way, reading, playing cards, debating an issue, problem solving, etc. we become mentally and physically flabby.  Ever see someone in a waiting room doing a crossword puzzle?  Same reason lots of adults work on jigsaw puzzles.  

There’s a double benefit: not only is the mental exercise good for the brain, the pleasure and relaxation have a measurable chemical benefit as well.



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The importance of making widgets

Is working more hours always correlated to a need to feel important?  I can see it both ways: surely, a start-up solopreneur needs to put in more hours than a widgeteer on an assembly line.  Maybe the same amount of widgets are made in 10 hours as in 8, but when one person plays all the roles —  widgeteer,  Widget Manager, and owner of Widgets R Us — those extra 2 hours aren’t just handy, they’re necessary.

On the other hand, if work is used as a way to avoid relationship work at home, any extra hours are too many!

We’re too work-saturated as it is; fueling not only the acquisition of money but the corresponding acquisition of  things that show that we’ve acquired money.  And if more money comes from more time at work, that becomes the priority in life.  

Don’t know any other way to demonstrate how much you care for your partner?  Put your priorities where your wallet is:  Improving relationship skills are pound for pound cheaper than a new car.  Besides, one depreciates the second you drive it off the lot and the other appreciates with every mile.  

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