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Mindfulness

It can be easy to rush through life without stopping to notice much.

Paying more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you – can improve your mental wellbeing.

You can check your mood using this simple questionnaire.

Some people call this awareness “mindfulness”. Mindfulness can help us enjoy life more and understand ourselves better. You can take steps to develop it in your own life.

What is mindfulness?

Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, says that mindfulness means knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment.

“It’s easy to stop noticing the world around us. It’s also easy to lose touch with the way our bodies are feeling and to end up living ‘in our heads’ – caught up in our thoughts without stopping to notice how those thoughts are driving our emotions and behaviour,” he says.

“An important part of mindfulness is reconnecting with our bodies and the sensations they experience. This means waking up to the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment. That might be something as simple as the feel of a banister as we walk upstairs.

“Another important part of mindfulness is an awareness of our thoughts and feelings as they happen moment to moment.

“It’s about allowing ourselves to see the present moment clearly. When we do that, it can positively change the way we see ourselves and our lives.”

How mindfulness helps mental wellbeing

Becoming more aware of the present moment can help us enjoy the world around us more and understand ourselves better.

When we become more aware of the present moment, we begin to experience afresh things that we have been taking for granted.

“Mindfulness also allows us to become more aware of the stream of thoughts and feelings that we experience,” says Professor Williams, “and to see how we can become entangled in that stream in ways that are not helpful.

“This lets us stand back from our thoughts and start to see their patterns. Gradually, we can train ourselves to notice when our thoughts are taking over and realise that thoughts are simply ‘mental events’ that do not have to control us.

“Most of us have issues that we find hard to let go and mindfulness can help us deal with them more productively. We can ask: ‘Is trying to solve this by brooding about it helpful, or am I just getting caught up in my thoughts?’

“Awareness of this kind also helps us notice signs of stress or anxiety earlier and helps us deal with them better.”

Mindfulness is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as a way to prevent depression in people who have had three or more bouts of depression in the past.

See the NICE guideline on depression in adults.

How to be more mindful

Reminding yourself to take notice of your thoughts, feelings, body sensations and the world around you is the first step to mindfulness.

Notice the everyday

“Even as we go about our daily lives, we can notice the sensations of things, the food we eat, the air moving past the body as we walk,” says Professor Williams. “All this may sound very small, but it has huge power to interrupt the ‘autopilot’ mode we often engage day to day, and to give us new perspectives on life.”

Keep it regular

It can be helpful to pick a regular time – the morning journey to work or a walk at lunchtime – during which you decide to be aware of the sensations created by the world around you.

Try something new

Trying new things, such as sitting in a different seat in meetings or going somewhere new for lunch, can also help you notice the world in a new way.

Watch your thoughts

“Some people find it very difficult to practice mindfulness. As soon as they stop what they’re doing, lots of thoughts and worries crowd in,” says Professor Williams.

“It might be useful to remember that mindfulness isn’t about making these thoughts go away, but rather about seeing them as mental events.

“Imagine standing at a bus station and seeing ‘thought buses’ coming and going without having to get on them and be taken away. This can be very hard at first, but with gentle persistence it is possible.

“Some people find that it is easier to cope with an over-busy mind if they are doing gentle yoga or walking.”

Name thoughts and feelings

To develop an awareness of thoughts and feelings, some people find it helpful to silently name them: “Here’s the thought that I might fail that exam”. Or, “This is anxiety”.

Free yourself from the past and future

You can practise mindfulness anywhere, but it can be especially helpful to take a mindful approach if you realise that, for several minutes, you have been “trapped” in reliving past problems or “pre-living” future worries.

Different mindfulness practices

As well as practising mindfulness in daily life, it can be helpful to set aside time for a more formal mindfulness practice.

Mindfulness meditation involves sitting silently and paying attention to thoughts, sounds, the sensations of breathing or parts of the body, bringing your attention back whenever the mind starts to wander

Yoga and tai-chi can also help with developing awareness of your breathing.

Visit the Mental Health Foundation’s website for an online mindfulness course or details of mindfulness teachers in your area.

Is mindfulness helpful for everyone?

“Mindfulness isn’t the answer to everything, and it’s important that our enthusiasm doesn’t run ahead of the evidence,” says Professor Williams.

“There’s encouraging evidence for its use in health, education, prisons and workplaces, but it’s important to realise that research is still going on in all of these fields. Once we have the results, we’ll be able to see more clearly who mindfulness is most helpful for.”

Anxiety and Stress – Use NLP to Overcome Them and Relax

Stress Brain

 

More than ever, scientific surveys are proving the primary role played by stress in causing and aggravating various physical and emotional disorders.

In the June 6, 1983, issue of Time Magazine, the cover story labeled stress “The Epidemic of the Eighties.” The article also mentioned that stress is our prominent health issue. Indeed it is unquestionable that the world has become more and more complicated and stressful in the past 25 years since that article was written.

Many surveys indicate that almost everybody perceives themselves as being under a lot of stress. Authorities in the field estimate that around 75 to 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are related to stress.

Most people say that their job is the major reason for their stress. And stress levels have also increased in children as well as the elderly population because of several reasons including: Peer pressures that often lead to everything from smoking to drug and alcohol abuse; the dissolution of family and religious values and ties; growing crime rates; threats to personal safety; as well as social isolation and loneliness.

Stress can cause and aggravate problems such as diabetes, ulcers, low back and neck pain, hypertension, strokes and heart attacks. This is due to the ever-growing sympathetic nervous system activity as well as a flood of cortisol, adrenaline, and other hormones. Chronic stress is a corollary of weakened immune system resistance. Stress can contribute to anxiety, depression, and its various effects on the body’s organs.
“Stress” is defined as follows by the American Heritage Dictionary:
“To subject to physical or mental pressure, tension, or strain”

The following is the definition of “tension” from the same dictionary:
“Mental, emotional, or nervous strain”

The following is the definition of “anxiety”:
“A state of uneasiness and apprehension, as about future uncertainties”

And it defines “depression” as follows:
“The condition of feeling sad or despondent”

The following is the definition of “clinical depression”:
“A psychiatric disorder characterized by an inability to concentrate, insomnia, loss of appetite, anhedonia, feelings of extreme sadness, guilt, helplessness and hopelessness, and thoughts of death.”

We can nonetheless be sure that our mind is the primary cause of our feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. We could also say that, what we think about, and our attitudes and the way we view our experiences dictate what we feel. So if we can manage to modify our thoughts, attitudes, and points of view, then we can be relieved of our stress, anxiety, and depression and replace them with a better state of being.

Since the beginning of time, people have tried methods for getting rid of stress. The pharmaceutical industry seems to have a drug for everything. For that, the industry has produced a large line of sedatives from Valium to Xanax. If you choose to use drugs for relief, please make sure that you read the fine print and learn about the side effects, which usually are, among others, addiction and dependency. Indeed these kinds of drugs try to treat the symptoms, but not the cause. So when one stops ingesting them, the symptoms can come back.

A more intelligent method to eliminate tension, stress, anxiety and depression is to treat its actual cause, which as I said above, is generally our thought processes. There is some good news.  The basis of hypnosis is relaxing.  The AMA accepted hypnosis in 1958 as an effective method of treating stress or stress-related symptoms.  However, unlike anxiolytics, there are categorically no bad side effects.

Hypnosis is the Alpha level of consciousness. It is the daydream-like temporary psychological state which we feel as we are about to fall asleep at night. And we feel it once more when we awaken again. There are several different ways we can guide ourselves into this relaxed mood, from step-by-step relaxation to visual imagery to listening to hypnosis CDs.

When we enter the hypnotic state, we can communicate with our unconscious mind, which is the seat of our emotions. And one can more easily accept new points of view and ideas which will help us to dissipate anxiety, or even prevent it from occurring in the first place.

NLP, which is a modern kind of hypnosis, offers various really good techniques for releasing stress. Maybe the technique that works best is called the “swish” pattern – or the “flash” pattern. After using the “flash” pattern, your unconscious will automatically use negative, stress triggering mental images, as triggers for tranquilizing mental images. Otherwise stated, what commonly makes you feel stress will now trigger relaxation!

TO SUM THINGS UP
Tension, stress, anxiety, and depression can be prompted by our thoughts. So by changing our attitude and point of view towards our situation and our experiences, we can dissipate these feelings at the source. Hypnosis and NLP are natural tools that make it possible to change our attitude and point of view to easily dissipate the source of our negative feelings.

Hypnosis and Relaxation Therapies

A wide variety of the complementary therapies claim to improve health by producing relaxation. Some use the relaxed state to promote psychological change. Others incorporate movement, stretches, and breathing exercises. Relaxation and “stress management” are found to a certain extent within standard medical practice. They are included here because they are generally not well taught in conventional medical curricula and because of the overlap with other, more clearly complementary, therapies.therapies.

Table 1

Definitions of terms relating to hypnosis
Hypnotic trance—A deeply relaxed and focused state with increased suggestibility and suspension of critical faculties
Direct hypnotic suggestion—Suggestion made to a person in a hypnotic trance that alters behavior or perception while the trance persists (for example, the suggestion that pain is not a problem for a woman under hypnosis during labor)
Post-hypnotic suggestion—Suggestion made to a person in a hypnotic trance that alters behavior or perception after the trance ends (for example, the suggestion that in the future, a patient will be able to relax at will and will no longer be troubled by panic attacks)

TECHNIQUES

Hypnosis

Hypnosis is the induction of a deeply relaxed state, with increased suggestibility and suspension of critical faculties. Once in this state, sometimes called a hypnotic trance, patients are given therapeutic suggestions to encourage changes in behavior or relief of symptoms. For example, in a treatment to stop smoking, a hypnosis practitioner might suggest that the patient will no longer find smoking pleasurable or necessary. Hypnosis for a patient with arthritis might include a suggestion that the pain can be turned down like the volume of a radio.

Some practitioners use hypnosis as an aid to psychotherapy. The rationale is that in the hypnotized state, the conscious mind presents fewer barriers to effective psychotherapeutic exploration, leading to an increased likelihood of psychological insight.

Relaxation and meditation techniques

One well-known example of a relaxation technique is known variously as progressive muscle relaxation, systematic muscle relaxation, and Jacobson relaxation. The patient sits comfortably in a quiet room. He or she then tenses a group of muscles, such as those in the right arm, holds the contraction for 15 seconds, then releases it while breathing out. After a short rest, this sequence is repeated with another set of muscles. In a systematic fashion, major muscle groups are contracted, then allowed to relax. Gradually, different sets of muscle are combined. Patients are encouraged to notice the differences between tension and relaxation.

The Mitchell method involves adopting body positions that are opposite to those associated with anxiety (fingers spread rather than hands clenched, for example). In autogenic training, patients concentrate on experiencing physical sensations, such as warmth and heaviness, in different parts of their bodies in a learned sequence. Other methods encourage the use of diaphragmatic breathing that involves deep and slow abdominal breathing coupled with a conscious attempt to let go of tension during exhalation.

Visualization and imagery techniques involve the induction of a relaxed state followed by the development of a visual image, such as a pleasant scene that enhances the sense of relaxation. These images may be generated by the patient or suggested by the practitioner. In the context of this relaxing setting, patients can also choose to imagine themselves coping more effectively with the stressors in their lives.

Meditation practice focuses on stilling or emptying the mind. Typically, meditators concentrate on their breath or a sound (mantra) they repeat to themselves. They may, alternatively, attempt to reach a state of “detached observation,” in which they are aware of their environment but do not become involved in thinking about it. In meditation, the body remains alert and in an upright position. In addition to formal sitting meditation, patients can be taught mindfulness meditation, which involves bringing a sense of awareness and focus to their involvement in everyday activities.

Yoga practice involves postures, breathing exercises, and meditation aimed at improving mental and physical functioning. Some practitioners understand yoga in terms of traditional Indian medicine, with the postures improving the flow of prana energy around the body. Others see yoga in more conventional terms of muscle stretching and mental relaxation.

Tai chi is a gentle system of exercises originating from China. The best known example is the “solo form,” a series of slow and graceful movements that follow a set pattern. It is said to improve strength, balance, and mental calmness. Qigong (pronounced “chi kung”) is another traditional Chinese system of therapeutic exercises. Practitioners teach meditation, physical movements, and breathing exercises to improve the flow of Qi, the Chinese term for body energy.

WHAT HAPPENS DURING TREATMENT?

Hypnosis

In hypnosis, patients typically see practitioners by themselves for a course of hourly or half-hourly treatments. Some general practitioners and other medical specialists use hypnosis as part of their regular clinical work and follow a longer initial consultation with standard 10- to 15-minute appointments. Patients can be given a post-hypnotic suggestion that enables them to induce self-hypnosis after the treatment course is completed. Some practitioners undertake group hypnosis, treating up to a dozen patients at a time—for example, teaching self-hypnosis to prenatal groups as preparation for labor.

Relaxation and meditation techniques

Most relaxation techniques require daily practice to be effective. A variety of formats for teaching relaxation and meditation exist, including classes as well as individual sessions. Relaxation can be taught in 1 session by conducting and audio taping a relaxation session. Using the audio tape, patients can then practice the techniques daily at home. Methods such as progressive muscle relaxation are easy to learn; yoga, tai chi, and meditation can take years to master completely.

Most relaxation techniques are enjoyable, and many healthy individuals practice them without having particular health problems. Relaxation classes can also play a social function.

Unlike in many other complementary therapies, practitioners of relaxation techniques do not make diagnoses. They may use the conventional diagnoses as described by the patient to tailor the prescribed program appropriately. In many cases, however, the method of treatment does not depend on a precise diagnosis.

THERAPEUTIC SCOPE

The primary applications of hypnosis and relaxation techniques are for anxiety, disorders with a strong psychological component (such as asthma and irritable bowel syndrome), and conditions that can be modulated by levels of arousal (such as pain). They are also commonly used in programs for stress management.

Research evidence

Evidence from randomized controlled trials indicates that hypnosis, relaxation, and meditation techniques can reduce anxiety, particularly that related to stressful situations, such as receiving chemotherapy (see box). They are also effective for insomnia, particularly when the techniques are integrated into a package of cognitive therapy (including, for example, sleep hygiene). A systematic review showed that hypnosis enhances the effects of cognitive behavioral therapy for conditions such as phobia, obesity, and anxiety.

Findings from randomized controlled trials support the use of various relaxation techniques for treating both acute and chronic pain, although 2 recent systematic reviews suggest that methodologic flaws may compromise the reliability of these findings. Randomized trials have shown hypnosis is valuable for patients with asthma and irritable bowel syndrome, yoga is helpful for patients with asthma, and tai chi helps to reduce falls and fear of falling in elderly people.

Relaxation

Relaxation refers to the state of body and mind that is free from tension, stress and anxiety. Relaxation is an important part of self-care, helping you look after your well-being when you’re feeling stressed or busy.

Everyone is different and will have preferred methods of relaxing in their day-to-day lives. Whilst there are typical activities associated with relaxation, such as taking a bath, listening to music, reading a book, or watching a film, these acts often only relax our bodies. True relaxation will also help to ease your mind, switching off from the external noises in your life.

For some, relaxation can be achieved through performing specific exercises and techniques. For others, relaxation therapies and complementary therapies such as hypnotherapy prove to be more effective.

On this page, we will explore a number of relaxation techniques and discover how relaxation therapies, such as hypnotherapy and self-hypnosis can help.

Why should I relax?

Healthy living is a matter of balance. Relaxation can play a key part of the balancing process, alongside what we eat, how much physical activity we do, and how we handle stress.

We face constant demands, not only from work but also from our families and social lives – and this affects our stress levels on a major scale. Stress affects us all in different ways, and many of us don’t even realise how stressed we actually are; we often become accustomed to being tense, so we think of it as normal.

But, feeling stressed or tense for prolonged periods can have a negative effect on our overall well-being. Research studying the relationship between stress and health shows that stress not only affects our mood, but can also lead to health implications. This includes digestive problems, bowel conditions and high blood pressure. It is also thought to lower our immunity and slow our body’s recovery from major traumas.

So while you may not think you’re overly stressed, it is important to watch for the signs of excessive levels of tension:

  • tense muscles
  • waking up tired
  • difficulty sleeping
  • grinding your teeth
  • aches and pains
  • persistent tiredness or exhaustion
  • heart racing
  • sense of rush, panic or lack of time
  • growing number of minor ailments such as headaches or stomach upsets
  • ‘stomach in knots’ sensation
  • loss of appetite
  • difficulty thinking straight or concentrating

Relaxation techniques are thought to be key to restoring or maintaining, a healthy body and mind. Some relaxation exercises are designed to help slow down your breathing and heart rate, which can help to lower blood pressure and muscle tension. Relaxation can also help you to gain control of your worries and can help you to learn other skills, such as mindfulness.

Relaxation therapy

For some, relaxation techniques are not enough to reach a state of emotional and physical calm. Certain therapies are considered an effective alternative as they produce states of deep relaxation. It can help those who have on-going issues with stress and anxiety.

Hypnotherapy for relaxation

Hypnotherapy is a recognised form of relaxation therapy. It can reduce ‘stress chemicals’ and bring the body back to balance. Regular sessions ease built up pressure and tension, helping you to learn how to look after yourself better.

The hypnotic trance is the induction of a deeply relaxed state. The mind is guided away from the troubles of everyday life and into a place of tranquillity and peace. During this process, the hypnotherapist may offer therapeutic suggestions to encourage changes in attitude and behaviour, or relief from stress-related symptoms. This relaxation therapy is comfortable, safe and considered to be a highly liberating experience. It’s beneficial for both the mind and body.

The key benefits thought to arise from this type of deep relaxation are:

  • helping to restore and strengthen the immune system
  • lowering of blood pressure
  • stress relief and the lessening of chronic pain, tension headaches, back pain and migraines
  • diminishing any emotional upsets and unlocking emotional blockages that can contribute to stress
  • aiding concentration ability
  • improving energy levels
  • aiding sleep.

Hypnotherapy provides a confidential and comfortable setting in which your mind and body can be safely filtered of tension and stress, easing you into a relaxing state of mind.

Often, hypnotherapists will send patients away with post-hypnotic suggestions that allows them to induce self-hypnosis after sessions are completed.

Self-hypnosis

Self-hypnosis is essentially an extension of hypnosis – and it can be one of the best relaxation exercises to help you keep on top of your stress levels. It can also act as a tool to help you cope with the problems of everyday living in the future. It provides a source of regular relaxation that is simple to carry out, with a range of positive effects on emotional and physical well-being.

Before you attempt it, you should let others know that you do not want to be disturbed.

Here are 12 steps you can take to employ self-hypnosis for relaxation:

  1. Try to clear your mind of anything that has been causing you to feel unbalanced or stressed.
  2. Find an object to focus on. This object should ideally be just above your eye line (possibly on the wall or ceiling).
  3. Focus on the object to fully release all other thoughts from your mind.
  4. Think about your eyelids slowly closing, becoming far too heavy to keep open. Breathe evenly and deeply as your eyes begin to close.
  5. Tell yourself that as you breathe out, you will feel more relaxed. Try to slow your breathing to become more and more relaxed after every breath.
  6. Visualise a sideways, or up and down movement of an object. Watch it sway in your mind’s eye.
  7. Slowly count down from ten and say ‘I am relaxing’ after each number.
  8. Believe that when you reach zero, you will enter your hypnotic state.
  9. When you reach a hypnotic state, focus on your positive messages. Repeat them in your thoughts, staying focused and relaxed.
  10. Clear your mind and relax once more before you leave the hypnotic state.
  11. Slowly (but increasing in speed) count up to 10. This reverses the process you used to get into the hypnotic state. After each number, you can repeat a positive statement such as ‘I will get a good night’s sleep tonight’.
  12. When you finish counting, you will return awake and refreshed.

As discussed before, there is no single method of relaxation that is best for everyone. Some people will benefit from therapies such as hypnotherapy, whilst others may prefer solo relaxation techniques, such as meditation or Progressive Muscle Relaxation.

Relaxation techniques

Relaxation techniques tend to differ widely in practice, philosophy and methodology. The choice of practice should depend on your specific needs, preferences, fitness level and the way you respond to stress. You will know if you have chosen the right relaxation technique for stress relief, as it will fit in with your lifestyle, and will help your mind to focus and reduce everyday tension.

Here is a guide to some popular forms of relaxation techniques:

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Dr Edmund Jacobson developed this relaxation technique back in the early 1900s. Progressive Muscle Relaxation is a two-step process that involves tensing and then relaxing specific muscle groups. With regular practice, Progressive Muscle Relaxation is thought to provide an intimate familiarity with what tension – as well as relaxation – feels like in different parts of the body. This awareness is considered beneficial for spotting and fighting the first signs of muscular tension.

Deep breathing relaxation

Heavy and fast breathing is a symptom of the ‘flight or fight’ response that can lead to heightened anxiety levels. Deep breathing techniques can help to control this reaction. By concentrating on your breathing, the body can relax and get back into synchrony. For this reason, deep breathing is an important part of yoga and martial arts due to its relaxing effects.

Autogenic relaxation

Autogenic means self-regulation or self-generation. This technique involves the use of only your mind and motivation to tackle stress. The repetition of words or phrases in the mind is thought to help stimulate physical sensations. It also helps to slow breathing and heart rate.

Meditation

There are a number of different types of meditation. Yet all practices involve techniques to encourage and develop concentration, emotional positivity and relief from stress. Meditation helps you to learn the patterns and habits of your mind. This can lead to the cultivation of new, more positive ways of being.

Transcendental meditation is considered the simplest type of meditation. It involves the repetition of a single word or phrase (mantra). This allows the mind to naturally and effortlessly transcend thinking, and to experience a state of restfully alert consciousness.

Mindfulness meditation is a research-based type of meditation which originated from Buddhism. It’s designed to develop the skill of focusing on our inner and outer experiences with acceptance, understanding and patience. This type of meditation involves concentrating on thoughts and sensations of the mind and body. It’s often taught in stress-reduction programmes.

Visualisation/guided imagery

Visualisation or guided imagery is a variation of traditional meditation that involves the use of visual sense, taste, touch, sound and smell to achieve the relaxation response. This relaxation technique requires you to imagine a scene in which you feel at peace.

Other common relaxation techniques include:

  • massage
  • tai chi
  • yoga

Remember, it’s not healthy to stay stressed or tense for prolonged periods. Be kind to your body and your mind by embracing relaxation as a part of your daily self-care routine.

7 Ways Stress is More Dangerous Than You Think

High-pressure workdays, long commutes, raising kids, not enough sleep or exercise, trying to make ends meet.

The accumulated stresses of everyday life can damage your health in irreversible ways — from early aging to heart problems to long-term disability.

stress and mental health

Some people believe stress makes them perform better. But that’s rarely true. Research consistently shows the opposite — that stress usually causes a person to make more mistakes.

Besides making you forget where you put your keys, stress also can have dramatic negative impacts on your health.

Here are nine examples:

1. Stress makes it difficult to control your emotions

It’s no secret that stressed people can fly off the handle. But new research reveals just how little stress is actually required for you to lose your cool.

A 2013 study by neuroscientists found that even mild levels of stress can impair our ability to control our emotions.

In the study, researchers taught subjects stress control techniques. But after participants were put under mild stress — by having their hands dunked in icy water — they could not easily calm themselves down when shown pictures of snakes or spiders.

“Our results suggest that even mild stress, such as that encountered in daily life, may impair the ability to use cognitive techniques known to control fear and anxiety,” lead author Candace Raio, Ph.D., said in a press release.

2. Stress can promote disease

Some people are more prone to certain diseases, and chronic stress can give these conditions the green light.

Stress has been linked to illnesses that include cancer, lung disease, fatal accidents, suicide, and cirrhosis of the liver.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have discovered that children exposed to chronic stress are more likely to develop a mental illness if they are genetically predisposed.

3. Stress can affect your love life

Sex is a pleasurable and effective way to relieve stress. But stress can also get you out of the mood quicker than you think.

A 1984 study found that stress can affect a man’s body weight, testosterone levels, and sexual desire.

Numerous studies have shown that stress — especially performance anxiety — can lead to impotence.

High levels of stress in pregnant women also may trigger changes in their children as they grow, specifically behavioural and developmental issues.

4. Stress can ruin your teeth and gums

Some people respond to stressful situations through nervous tics or by grinding their teeth.

While people often grind their teeth unconsciously or when they sleep, it can do lasting damage to your jaw and wear your teeth thin.

A multi-university study in 2012 also linked stress to gum disease.

Researchers concluded that the pressures of marriage, parenthood, work, or lack of romantic involvement were factors in periodontal disease.

But those at greatest risk were people who became highly emotional when dealing with stress caused by their finances.

5. Stress can ruin your heart

Stress can physically damage your heart muscle.

Stress damages your heart because stress hormones increase your heart rate and constrict your blood vessels. This forces your heart to work harder, and increases your blood pressure.

According to the American Institute of Stress, the incidence rate of heart attacks and sudden death increases after major stress inducing incidents, like hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis.

6. Stress can make you gain weight

In the ancient days of hunter-gatherers, harsh conditions forced people to eat as much as possible when food was available in order to store up for lean times.

That compulsion lives on inside us, and comes out when we are stressed.

Researchers at the University of Miami found that when people find themselves in stressful situations, they are likely to consume 40 percent more food than normal.

Those scientists recommended turning off the nightly newscast before eating dinner, to keep bad news — and overeating — at bay.

7. Stress can make you look older

Chronic stress contributes significantly to premature aging.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, discovered that stress shortens telomeres — structures on the end of chromosomes — so that new cells can’t grow as quickly.

This leads to the inevitable signs of aging: wrinkles, weak muscles, poor eyesight, and more.