Feeling Sick? Here’s Why and What To Do

Feeling Sick? Here's Why and What To Do | Sedruola Maruska

How many times have you said or heard someone else say say ‘I’m so stressed’?

We use the word ‘stress’ loosely. Many times what we describe as stress is a bad day, and really all we want is to chill. Basically, ‘stress’ is just another word for ‘annoyed’ or ‘hassle’.

But more and more ‘stress’ isn’t just an alternate word, it’s something we face every day. It’s a constant in our lives that keeps us awake at night, on edge through the day, and fills us with tension and fear.

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Do any of these phrases sound familiar?:

  • ‘I’m worrying all the time.’
  • ‘I just can’t concentrate on anything.’
  • ‘I can’t get organised.’
  • ‘My memory is terrible these days.’
  • ‘I don’t feel good about myself.’
  • ‘I’ve got a hundred things to do, I can’t start any of them!’
  • ‘Little things throw me into a panic and I find myself gasping for breath.’

These are all symptoms of stress. But stress doesn’t only manifest on the surface. It causes physical symptoms, too. Do any of the symptoms below sound like you?:

  • ‘I get more headaches than I used to.’
  • ‘I get dizzy for no reason in the middle of the day.’
  • ‘My digestive system is going nuts, I always have heartburn or indigestion.’
  • ‘I’ve been sweating when it isn’t hot, or shivering when it isn’t cold.’
  • ‘I can’t get to sleep my mind keeps racing, when I do sleep, I have nightmares.’
  • ‘My face and eyes twitch when I’m under pressure.’

If these symptoms sound familiar, you’re probably under more stress than you think – stress that’s damaging your health, now and in the long run.

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Why is it a Problem?

In small amounts, stress is necessary. Lots of things cause short-term stress, even things we enjoy, like board games, challenging tasks, a DIY home project, or video games. These situations cause fun ‘stress’ that leads to a feeling of satisfaction, a challenge overcome, a job well done, or a game well played.

Stress can sometimes be good for us. For example, if we’re finding it hard to pay the bills, we might respond by asking for a raise – or finding a better job!

The problem comes when we’re stressed most or all of the time – especially at work.

If the trend continues, most adults will be suffering from high blood pressure in a few years because of coping mechanisms such as drinking, overeating or not getting enough sleep.

Why?

Because when stress continues, it doesn’t only take a psychological toll – damaged relationships, problems at work, and poorer quality of life. It also takes a physical toll that can lead to serious conditions like coronary heart disease.

What is Stress?

Doesn’t it seems strange that something as intangible as stress can have such a dramatic effect on our health, our lives, and society as a whole? But it can, and it does, which is why we need to understand it and learn how to deal with it.

There’s more than one way of defining stress, but here are two of the most useful.

  • Stress is what happens when we feel that demands we have to meet are bigger than our ability to deal with them, so we feel ‘out of our depth’ or ‘at the end of our rope.’
  • Stress is an adverse reaction we have to a lot of pressure or other demands placed on us.

In other words, stress is based on the way we look at our lives. If we think we can cope with pressures, demands on our time, our abilities and our money then there’s no problem. If we can’t, we feel stressed.

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Why Physical Symptoms?

The answer to the question is in our history.

Years ago, when we were less ‘sophisticated’ than we are now, If we were confronted with something threatening, we had two possible responses. To stay, and fight – or to turn and run. Fight or flight.

Although we’ve evolved, we still have those same fight or flight instincts. That’s good except for the fact that our systems can’t tell the difference between a real threat and an imagined one. So even if the threat is something we’ve been thinking about our response is the same – fight or flight.

And the results are physical!

  • Your heart starts to beat faster, carrying oxygen and nutrients, clearing away waste products so your muscles will have the blood supply they need for intense physical effort
  • As your heart beats faster, your blood pressure rises
  • Adrenaline and other hormones are released, to give you the energy you’ll need, raising your awareness, and sharpening your response
  • Your liver releases stored sugar for more energy
  • Your pupils dilate to let in more light, so you can see more clearly
  • All your senses become sharper and more efficient
  • Your muscles tense, ready for action
  • Blood flow to your hands and feet is restricted, so they stay cool
  • Your body gets hotter as your blood pressure rises, and you start to sweat in an effort to cool off

And yet nothing physical has happened. You’ve simply imagined, remembered, or anticipated something your subconscious sees as a threat!

You’ve also started to program yourself with this response to a particular stimulus. Which means that the next time you have the same thought, you’ll respond in the same way – faster, and more intensely.

You may even start to worry about the response – which increases your stress levels even more. The result: unpleasant physical symptoms. Palpitations. Muscle tension pain. Insomnia. Breathlessness. Numbness. Tingling. Dizziness. Sickness. Fainting. Headaches. Indigestion. Diarrhea. Fatigue. Chest pains. Blurred vision. Nausea. Shaking and more.

The good news is that once you understand stress, and recognise it, you can easily manage it.

Feeling Sick? Here's Why and What To Do | Stress Relief | Sedruola Maruska

Managing Stress

Stress comes from a particular set of behaviors we learn and repeat. Fighting back means learning – and repeating – a different set of behaviors that will reduce stress and restore calm.

Here are some first steps to help you manage stress:

  • Learn relaxation techniques! Relaxation is the opposite of ‘fight or flight’. Meditation, progressive muscular relaxation, deep breathing, yoga, tai chi, or even dancing can help you to relax
  • Learn about your stress ‘triggers’. Keep a journal where you write down things that make you tense up or start to worry, and the things that make you feel relaxed and happy.
  • Take stock of your lifestyle. Are you eating and drinking sensibly? Do you exercise enough? Vigorous exercise is a great way to get rid of tension that builds up when you’re stressed!
  • Develop strategies. Think about what you do now to stay calm. What could you do better? What strategies could you add to your arsenal?

Managing stress starts with knowing what’s stressful to you. We all have different triggers and ways of managing our stress.

Sometimes, when I’m working, I realize that my shoulders are incredibly tense. Unconsciously I’m raising them toward my ears, so that when I’m finally realizing this, my body is in a truly awkward position. I’ve realized that it happens when I’m unsure of or feeling stressed about a project.

What I do is take a deep breath, hold it for three seconds, then as I release my breath I relax my shoulders. That simple act gets me back to neutral, relaxes my body and helps clear my mind so I can keep working. without causing myself harm.

I encourage you to keep a journal and become more aware of how you’re dealing with stress. You’ll be happy, in many ways, that you took the time.


Appendicitis in the age of COVID-19

Sedruola Maruska | Personal Development Coach

My friend David* is deathly afraid of spiders. It doesn’t matter how small they are, he’ll run to the ends of the earth to avoid them.

One day while driving, he noticed a spider in his car. I’m not sure where in the car the spider was, but it was in his line of sight, and that was enough. With panic on the brain, and I’m sure a prayer in his heart he managed to pull his car over and jump out. Being alone, he had to manage on his own. Which he did by destroying the menacing creature and apprehensively getting back in the car to get home.

When he told me this story we laughed so hard we could barely speak for minutes. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.

It feels a little like we’re all hiding from a spider in the age of COVID-19. The difference being, our spider is deadly to our most vulnerable and we’re not yet sure how to destroy the menace.

Social Distancing

On March 12, 2020 our school district asked that the kids not return to school the following day, Friday, March 13. Then on Friday we learned that school would be closed for two weeks for “social distancing” due to the COVID-19 virus spreading across the globe. My daughter is home-schooled so no big change there. But having my son home all day. . . I love my kids.

“Mommy, can I change my color?”

Social distancing is testing us in ways we’ve never been tested before. We’re pushed to spend time with ourselves, our kids and our stuff in a way we’ve never experienced or imagined. In our case, knowing it would only be two weeks gave a light at the end of the tunnel. Then the Governor pushed it to May 6. . . I love my kids.

Calling The Doctor

Two weeks in, on Sunday, March 29, my daughter comes into our room in the morning with a bellyache. Kids get bellyaches especially when diets are on hiatus and schedules are non-existent.

So we send her to use the bathroom, have some tea and take it easy. By the afternoon there’s no change so we give her some children’s Tylenol, and cross our fingers. No one wants to go to a hospital right now, let alone an emergency room. So we decide to call her doctor in the morning to go to their office instead, if the pain persists.

In the morning, I call the doctor’s office. They ask me a list of questions then the nurse says “I think you need to go to the emergency room because it sounds like appendicitis. Don’t worry, they have separate entrances for COVID-19 patients and regular patients.”

She read my mind.

The Hospital

I throw on some clothes, get my daughter in the car and drive to the hospital. When we get to the hospital, the scenario is eerie. There’s almost no activity, a huge sign out front flashes “NO VISITORS”, the drive in front of the emergency room is blocked off, and there’s no one in sight. I hang out for a moment and a valet happens to walk by so I ask if I can park in front of the emergency room so he clears a space for me. He’s wearing a mask.

We go through the emergency room doors and we’re instantly greeted by a nurse in full protective gear. “Hello, how may we help you?”

“Our doctor told us to come because my daughter is having abdominal pain and believes it may be appendicitis.”

“What’s your daughter’s name?”

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I tell her and she sees it in the computer so she promptly hands us masks and guides us through. Everyone in the hospital is wearing a mask from the valet to the barista at the internal Starbucks. No one is walking around without a mask.

We get to a room and I notice that no one is shaking hands. I didn’t reach out, nor did they. They’re only touching my daughter as needed to get her IV in and examine her belly. Later, when I need to make a phone call I step out of the room and am quickly directed back into the room, no one can walk the halls, everyone must stay put. Okay, no problem.

Appendicitis in the age of COVID-19

Appendicitis

As we’re waiting the doctor comes in and informs us that they’re going to need to do an ultrasound to see what’s really going on. They give my daughter Tylenol, Motrin and Morphine so in a short time she’s feeling “happy.”

After the ultrasound confirms our suspicions of appendicitis an appendectomy surgery plan is rolled out.

Now, in my day, developing appendicitis and having an appendectomy was something that would put you down for a few days.

The doctor begins to explain to me how they’re going to go through my daughter’s belly button with an instrument that has a camera on the end. They’ll find the appendix and pull it out to examine it, tie and snip it off. Basically, a laparoscopic procedure that comes with very low risk.

We got to the hospital at 10:15 am and we were home by 6:30 pm post op.

Gratitude

Life doesn’t always cooperate with our plans. What’s that quote “Man makes plans and God laughs.” There are things we just can’t anticipate because they’re not how we think things need to go. But flowing with life feels a lot better than pushing against it.

I got nothing I “planned” to do on that Monday done. What was most important was I get my daughter taken care of. The timing of this emergency may not have been ideal but I’m so grateful for:

  • Health insurance so we didn’t have to worry about how to pay
  • Health professionals who are working everyday despite the threat to their health
  • Modern medicine and it’s efficiency in our case
  • Being able to take my daughter to the hospital in the morning and she being relieved of her pain by the evening
  • Hospital protocol to keep everyone safe
  • The timing could have come during the anticipated ‘surge’ of COVID-19, it didn’t

Life also, keeps moving. As our health professionals continue to fight the good fight, it’s up to us to follow the protocols in place to help keep them safe. They’re not only dealing with COVID-19 patients, they’re also dealing with regular cases, like my daughter’s appendicitis, that won’t stop because of this pandemic.

I wish you health and peace as we stay home and do our part against this deadly spider.


*Names changed to protect the innocent 🙂


Are you indulging in premeditated stress?

Sedruola Maruska | Personal Development Coach

You’re driving. A car on the right looks like it’s about to cut you off. . . .

You’re in line at an amusement park. A woman and her child look like they’re about to jump the line to join the rest of their family. . . .

You heard your friend say something rude about you. . . .

I’ll bet you started thinking about what you’d say or do in each of these situations didn’t you?

If you were wondering what “premeditated stress” is, that’s it. Anticipating a situation and deciding in your mind how and why you’ll respond in a certain way. Most of the time, it’s a negative response that creates stress in your body without the actual event happening.

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If you’re honest with yourself and us, you’ll say yes, you’ve indulged in premeditated stress. We all have because it’s a way of protecting ourselves from being taken advantage of, being hurt, abused, or manipulated.

Stress is a killer

But why create unnecessary stress? Stress is worst for your body than eating badly. Why? Because the hormone, Cortisol, it creates in your body was only meant to be in response to “fight or flight”. Once a threat was over, the levels would go back to a normal low ‘healthy’ level.

Stress is like being in a sustained ‘fight or flight’ situation that keeps the cortisol levels high. High cortisol levels are associated with lower immune function and bone density, increased weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease, depression and lower life expectancy.

That means, the conversation you have in your mind about being cut off is actually killing you slowly. Because every time you indulge in that premeditated stress conversation, you’re elevating your cortisol level and keeping your body in a state of readiness to ‘fight or flight’.

Premeditated Stress relief

There are hundreds of reasons to be and stay stressed in our society today. Between family, work, bills, aging, world events, and so much more, it’s no wonder there are increasing cases of mental illness, cancer, depression, heart disease and so on.

So, in an effort to help relieve some of the stress, here are a few ideas to help curb premeditated stress syndrome so we can let go and start enjoying our days more.

Breathe deeply – Whenever you feel something begin to creep up on you and take your joy. Stop, breathe ten deep breaths then move on. I know it sounds ancient, but it really does work to just breathe deeply. It allows your body to know that you’re not in a state of stress and relax. Helping you think clearer.

Exercise – Yeah, I’m like you, this is not my favorite thing either. But, moving your body helps you expend the energy needed to relieve stress. Don’t think of it as trying to lose weight or as a mandatory thing. Think of it as a release from the stress of life. Exercise as often as you need without regard for the benefits beyond just relieving stress. You may find you like it. . .

Beach Body Madness. . . Do you have it?

Change perspective – When you’re looking at a situation, instead of only seeing your perspective, try to see things from the other side. Doing that will slow down your reaction, help you think of other possibilities for a given situation and calm your stress. This isn’t going to work for every situation (if not try the first to suggestions) but, you’d be surprised how quickly you can calm yourself if you shift your perspective.

Conclusion

Those are suggestions to help you in the immediate, but there are a ton of other things you can do to prevent premeditated stress getting the best of you.

You may be the best at your diet and exercise routine, but if you’re always in a state of stress, you’re doing more damage to your whole system than you realize. So, don’t indulge, release. Your body will thank you.