What's Your Stress Reflex?

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Stress Reflex #1: "I Blow My Top"

When under stress do you...

__ Snap at others easily?

__ Feel impatient, interrupting other people while they are speaking?

__ Become belligerent and agitated?

If you said yes to any of the above, you may be the classic hard-charging, driven, type A personality stress researchers have identified as highly vulnerable to the ill effects of stress, such as high blood pressure. Although this stress reflex may be more common among men, researchers agree that plenty of women are type A, too. And women can suffer from the same ill effects of premature heart disease as men do. Anger is not necessarily bad -- it has its place in your arsenal of coping tools -- but if you explode every time your computer acts up or you get stuck in traffic, it's time to tame your angry stress reflex.

Stress Solutions

Keep but tweak: Channel your aggression
Because releasing aggressive energy helps soothe you, it's important to find a healthy and constructive way to blow off steam. Dr. Pelletier recommends taking up a martial art. Kickboxing and fast-paced competitive sports, such as tennis, are also a good fit because they allow you to physically release rage while focusing your mind on the activity itself and away from your stress.

Instead try: Getting a pet
Decades of research have shown that keeping a pet around defuses anger and stress. Merely petting your dog or cat, talking to a bird, or watching fish swim in a tank can reduce stress and anxiety levels, lower blood pressure, reduce the incidence of heart attacks, and help heart-attack patients live longer. If you can't get a fish or a bird or handle the burden of caring for a dog or cat, consider volunteering at your local humane society or offer to care for a neighbor's pet while she's on vacation.

 
Continued on page 3:  Stress Reflex #2: "I Can't Stop Eating"

 

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