Good Stress, Bad Stress

StressBy Scott D. Miller, MD

We all procrastinate from time to time. In fact, some people say that they work better under pressure. Although physical and mental stress can both have some beneficial effects on our well-being, too much stress can undermine our goals that prompted this response in the first place. The challenge is recognizing the line between benefit and harm.

So what is the purpose of stress? In the most primitive sense, it is a survival mechanism. When faced with physical danger, hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are rapidly produced in order to prepare us for a defensive or evasive action. However, a similar response can occur in a social or work setting. Over time, this motivation that pushes us through our daily routine can have some detrimental effects on our mental and physical health.

Stress can be a great tool for helping us achieve our goals. Merely setting a deadline or committing to a project can provide the necessary kick in the pants. Stress also conditions us to deal with more stress. Just think back to the things that stressed us out as teenagers. They seem so trivial now. Of course, the best example of good stress is exercise. In addition to all of the obvious health benefits, exercise prepares us for both the physical and mental rigors of life. Even a short walk can pull us out of that afternoon slump.

The detrimental effects of stress go far beyond the feeling of being “stressed out.” These consequences include the following:

  • Elevation in blood pressure
  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • Lowered testosterone
  • Weight gain
  • Poor sleep patterns
  • Depression and mood swings
  • Risky behavior
  • More stress and anxiety

Reducing stress can be simple. Here are some tips:

  • Exercise daily
  • Make a good night’s sleep a priority
  • Prioritize tasks and goals
  • Make lists
  • Learn to say “no”
  • Socialize

Also, consider relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or simply listening to music. Making time for stress reduction will save you time in the long run.

The right amount of stress can boost both our mental and physical abilities. However, too much of a good thing can wreak havoc on our health. You might not even realize when you cross that line. Men are notorious for neglecting their health, and stress reduction is no exception. The possibility of stress affecting your testosterone level should be enough motivation.

Look for my article on “Man Versus Prostate” in the next issue.

Scott D. Miller, MD, is the Medical Director of Robotic Surgery at WellStar North Fulton Hospital. He is a urologist with WellStar Urology in Roswell and has practiced in Atlanta for over 20 years. WellStar North Fulton Hospital offers services to address and prevent conditions associated with stress. Call 770-956-STAR (7827) today to learn more about heart screenings, cardiac rehabilitation, or sleep studies at WellStar North Fulton.

Scott D. Miller, MD • WellStar North Fulton Hospital • (470) 956-4230 • ScottDMillerMD.com

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