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Lifestyle Author: June M. Lay, M.S. - Lifestyle Columnist - Last Updated: Sep 7, 2017 - 10:06:33 PM

April is National Stress Month!

By June M. Lay, M.S. - Lifestyle Columnist -
Apr 28, 2012 - 11:55:09 AM

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( - April is almost over but for most of us, our stress levels aren't, which is why this month declared "National Stress Month" focuses on how to manage it using healthy methods. Stress has been associated with many things from the common cold to more serious diseases including cardiovascular disease to cancer. Both, short term stress and long term chronic stress have consequences. So this week let's take a look at how to manage our stress, because most of us experience some form of it year- round. First, here's a study that reports the direct relationship of stress to the common cold!

A study done by Sheldon Cohen of the Carnegie Mellon University did indeed find a high positive correlation between stress and the onset of a cold. Researchers working on this study surveyed 256 volunteers about the stress in their lives. Questions differentiated long-term stress from short-term stress. The researchers then actually infected participants with a cold virus and guess what, those suffering from long-term stress were twice as likely to get sick! But even those participants who were experiencing bouts of short-term stress, were more likely to catch a cold than those who reported minimal stress factors!

How about stress and allergies? Is there a connection between stress and allergy symptoms? After all, April brings with it the allergy season too! Stress causes the release of several hormones and other chemicals in our body, which can effect every body system from our digestive system to our immune system. Allergies are generally hypersensitivity reactions to non- toxic harmless particles such as pollen. When we're stressed, the very hormones and chemicals that we produce, can definitely heighten our allergy symptoms. So, while stress doesn't cause allergies, it can make an existing one and its reaction worse (One such chemical is histamine released into the bloodstream as a response to stress and allergies, causing those nasty symptoms).

Okay, can we eliminate stress? Most experts say no. What can we do? We manage our stress by practicing healthy habits as often as possible (What else would you expect me to say?)! Here then are some healthy habits that we can practice more often to enable our immune system to fight those invading bugs, enhance our long term health, and also not contribute to heightened allergic reactions.

Eat often and eat more high nutrient dense foods (especially those colorful fruits and veggies with nature's chemicals, Phytochemcials!).

Exercise regularly and get our 30-60 minutes per day of daily activity too (Regular moderate exercise strengthens the immune response, increases cell production and serves as an outlet for stress and the removal of stress hormones).

Get enough quality sleep. One theory behind sleep is that our body recuperates and repairs itself during deep sleep.

Drink alcohol in moderation and stop smoking if we smoke.

Drink plenty of fluids especially water (dehydration results in fatigue and when we're tired, stress hits us harder!)

Practice healthy stress coping strategies (examples: taking time-outs such as "Go for a Walk"; reach out for support counseling, reaching out to friends by talking, treat ourselves to a massage, etc.)

Consider adopting a companion animal, which research has shown to reduce blood pressure, heart rate, provide unconditional love and companionship, and so much more. Most importantly, research shows that picking the right companion animal can enhance the human and animal bond and its benefits. Here's a link to an article about reducing stress for both humans and animals

So, while I feel there is no such thing as practicing all the above all of the time, making our health a top priority is important. Hopefully we'll feel better and have less colds too!

Need some short term "eat -healthier" or "drop a few pounds" help? Contact me via reply to [email protected] for info on my new Telephonic Health & Weight Loss Coaching program. Individual sessions available as well. My book "It's NOT a Diet, it's Creative Eating!" available at CreativeEating

Here's to Our Health!

June M. Lay M.S.

Need some help with your exercise and weight goals this spring? Contact us for information on the new "10-week Personalized Get- in- Shape" Programs by emailing me or go Offered also are "Personal Exercise Only" Programs smartly designed to strengthen, condition, increase flexibility, and more with Ed Irace! Services provided in NYC, and nationally through Skype web service, email and phone when appropriate. Also this spring, Eat and Learn Lunches for corporate clients! Just email me for info.

Junefit is included in Google's top ranked women's health resources's_Health/Resources/

June is Lifestyle Columnist at

(c) junefit 2012

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