Employee and Family
CMR Canada - Employee and Family Assistance Programs Head Office: Suite 600, Bow Valley Square 4, 250 - 6 Avenue SW, Calgary, Alberta T2P3H7 Telephone (403) 263-2200 Fax (403) 256-8291 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Live Long and Prosper
Stress is one of the banes of our modern-day life. But not everyone knows that stress hurts: it hurts us physically. And it hurts women more than it hurts men.
Research shows there are gender differences in responses to stressors. Some stressors affect men and women the same, while others affect them differently. Marital problems, for instance, often cause women more stress than men because many women place more importance on relationships.
Stress-related symptoms like fatigue, headaches, and back pain send thousands of us to the doctor's office every year. The problem is, doctors often can't find anything medically wrong. Laboratory tests are not sensitive enough to pick up stress-related disease processes that occur within the normal range. Stress-induced symptoms exist in a gap between disease onset and diagnosis.
Bouncing Back Or Not
Our bodies have a wonderful ability to respond to stressful challenges and then return to their normal baseline. Levels of the stress hormone cortisol rise when we are under stress, then fall when the stress disappears.
But sustained stress can override our bodies' natural ability to bounce back. Sustained stress keeps cortisol levels high, suppressing our immune response.
If we continue to live in stressful circumstances, we are more likely to develop numerous disorders including infections, obesity, poor wound healing, decreased learning and memory skills, osteoporosis, hypertension, stroke and heart attacks.
Stress can also lead to accelerated aging.
We now know that healthy aging is more dependent on our behavior than our particular gene set. Seniors who have aged healthfully can give us clues to the kind of behavior that will help us avoid the effects of sustained stress.
Stress associated with toxic emotions, loneliness, pessimism, and depression can promote poor health behaviors such as overeating, smoking, excessive alcohol intake, lack of exercise, and poor sleeping habits.
William Malarkey is director of the Ohio State University Clinical Research Center, where he is a professor of internal medicine and endocrinology.
Here are some characteristics of successfully aging seniors that have allowed them to deal effectively with stress and thereby slow the aging process:
They exercise frequently.
They benefit from excellent nutrition.
They spend their time consistent with their core values so they are happy, optimistic and not prone to anger.
They have a lot of friends.
There is a spiritual dimension to their lives.
I refer to these strengths as the PIERS model (Physical: exercise and nutrition, Intellectual, Emotional, Relational, and Spiritual). Just as wooden piers prevent the erosion of sand from a beach, so can these human strengths diminish the decline in our health produced by stress and accelerated aging.
Anger and stress both happen naturally to everyone from time to time, and they produce similar responses in our bodies. Just as prolonged stress can result in health problems, prolonged anger arousal can too.
Anger that goes unresolved can also create stress. When we try too hard not to be angry, we defeat ourselves and bring on more stress than is necessary. Trying hard to avoid anger or pretend it's not there is called anger diversion.
For women, there are at least four ways that anger can be diverted. When we divert anger, we try to escape it or put it out of mind.
1) Women suppress anger by containing it. Every time you "bite your tongue" to keep from saying what you feel, you're using suppression to divert your attention and energy away from your anger. Many women report that when they suppress anger they feel almost immediate tightness in their chest, shoulders, neck, back or stomach. Some say that suppressing anger leads them to overeat or drink too much to soothe the pain they feel inside. Sometimes circumstances force us to divert anger by suppressing it for the moment, for instance in an unsafe relationship where anger expression is forbidden.
2) Women internalize anger by absorbing guilt and blame meant for others with whom they're angry. Suppressing anger for long periods results in internalization because unconsciously we must attribute responsibility for the hurt somewhere . . . and if we feel unable to talk directly about our anger to the person with whom we're angry, the next most likely target is ourselves.
3) Women segment anger when they decide (usually unconsciously) never to be angry. Lots of women become so afraid of being angry (because of past punishment or rejection) that they lose the ability to know when they are angry. These women act on their anger without realizing what they're doing. The anger-segmenting woman denies ever getting angry as she smiles through clenched teeth. Later, she loudly points out that she saw your outfit hanging on a rack at a neighbor's garage sale. While segmentation seems to protect her from having to own up to her difficult feelings, it also creates more stress by damaging her relationships and forcing her to contain anger in health-compromising ways.
4) Women externalize their anger by abusing or insulting others. While this may seem like a way to "get anger out," spilling it irresponsibly over other people is not a conscious way to acknowledge and use anger productively. It is still a means to escape full awareness of anger in that it momentarily helps a person pretend that "the problem" has nothing to do with them or with their relationship, but is only about the other person. Often, we see women dumping anger for their partners or supervisors onto their children.
The opposite of anger diversion, assertive anger expression, forces us to use anger in a conscious, deliberate way, and respect the rights of others while we do so. At first, becoming more aware of anger can feel more stressful. However, over time, it spares us the physical, emotional and relationship costs that we suffer when we divert anger. Assertive anger expression prevents the buildup of stress by protecting our relationships and our self-respect.
Anger Coping Tips
To become more aware of your anger, and use it in a more assertive way, try the following exercises:
Reference: ABC News Edited by CMR Canada
It is a glorious achievement to master one's own temper.
Her Crystal Ball
A man was wandering around a fairground when he happened upon a fortune-teller's tent. Thinking it would be good for a laugh, he went inside and sat down. "Ah ... " said the woman as she gazed into her crystal ball. "I see you are the father of two children." "That's what you think," said the man scornfully. "I'm the father of THREE children!" The mystical woman grinned and said, "That's what YOU think."
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CMR Canada, a national EFAP management firm founded in Alberta in 1990, delivers programs and services that enhance the health and performance capability of individuals and organizations. The firm delivers services to individuals plus their families in organizations located throughout Alberta - Municipal Governments, Hospitals, Unions, Universities, and Corporations and the General Public.
Interventions, the EFAP Journal of CMR Canada, is available to clients without cost.
CMR's organization is simple, efficient, and highly effective leaving the majority of resources, financial and human, to provide service to clients and their families. The firm has extensive experience in designing, implementing, resourcing, evaluating, and managing Assistance Programs.
CMR has an unlimited supply of qualified professionals to engage as needed. Professionals are partnered or on contract to CMR. Included are Psychologists, Registered Social Workers, Family Therapists, Crisis Counsellors, Career Counsellors, and Certified Human Resource Professionals.
Working principles: keep the business small; deliver extraordinary personal service; keep the costs low. This highly efficient and effective business model allows CMR to deliver high quality programs and services at lower cost with increased accountability - and select the most experienced and capable professionals.
CMR Canada - Employee and Family Assistance Programs
Head Office Suite 3500, Bow Valley Square 2 205 - 5 Avenue SW Calgary, Alberta T2P2V7 Telephone (403)263-2200 in Calgary, or 1-800-567-9953 from elsewhere Fax (403)256-8291 E-Mail: CMR Canada
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