Healthier You Fall 2018

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Stressed out! Research shows women tend to dwell on past problems and suffer sleep disturbances when stressed Sandra Thomas | editor

Get the kids ready for school, feed the dog, wipe up cat puke, get ready for work, wait for a bus in the pouring rain, grocery shop, make dinner, plan a birthday party, fight traffic, look for a new place to live, clean the house, make plans for your aging parents care, find help for your brother who is addicted to opioids — on some days the list of duties many of us juggle can seem endless and daunting. Throw in a holiday such as Christmas or Channukah and you’ve got the perfect stress storm barrelling down on you with no shelter in sight. Life is busy and with that can come stress — lots and lots of stress. To gain some insight into stress, Healthier You spoke with Dr. Nancy Sin, assistant professor with the department of psychology at the University of B.C. Sin says her research shows that how often you encounter stressful events is less important than how you react to these events. She adds people who are more emotionally reactive in the face of stress and experience more pronounced spikes in negative emotions and greater loss of positive emotions tend to exhibit more symptoms, including elevated inflammation and lower 10

fall 2018

heart rate variability, compared to people who are less reactive to stressful events. “Poor health behaviours and physiological dysregulation, in turn, may explain why stressreactive people have relatively greater risks for developing future depression and anxiety disorders, chronic medical conditions and premature death,” says Sin.

Stress is a common feature of our daily lives. dr. nancy l. Lin Is it normal for everyone to suffer some stress? Stress is a common feature of our daily lives. Just about every person knows what it feels like to be stressed. Yet, people differ from one another in how easily they get stressed and in their ways of coping with stress. Do women tend to feel more stress than men? Men and women appear to experience the same frequency of stressful events, but there are gender differences in the types of stress that people encounter and in stress responses. In particular, men are more likely to report

stressful experiences that occur at work, whereas women are more likely to report “network stressors,” which are stressful events that happen to their close friends and family that feel stressful to the respondent. There is some research suggesting that women may experience relatively greater increases in negative emotions when faced with stressful events, and are more likely to dwell on past problems and to have sleep disturbances when stressed. When is it time to seek professional help? You should watch out for symptoms of depression — feeling hopeless, losing interest in daily activities that you used to care about, unintentional weight loss or weight gain, loss of appetite, and sleep disturbances. You should also be aware of ways that your stress might be impacting family and friends and your work performance. Any tips for dealing with daily stress? Although it is not possible to completely avoid stressful events, our research shows that how people respond to these stressful situations is important. My advice is to try to cultivate resources or activities that you can draw upon when life gets

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