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#STOP! the Harmful Effects of Acute Stress

We all deal with stressors on a daily basis. Any time we encounter something that disturbs us either mentally or physically, stress results. It’s omnipresent in life. A particularly stressful event triggers the fight-or-flight response, causing hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol to surge through your body. A little bit of stress, known as “acute stress,” can be exciting, and keeps us active and alert. The big problem comes in when you are dealing with long-term, chronic stress, which I call bad stress. Being under constant stress—either on the job or at home or both—can have dire detrimental effects on your health.

Ironically, studies have shown that healthcare workers and doctors are some of the most stressed-out people among all professions, and yet we are putting our health in their hands. For instance, doctors, teens, and lawyers have the worst driving records.[i] In addition, the health of our healthcare workers is worse than in just about any other industry in the United States, showing higher instances of obesity, smoking, chronic disease, and stress-related illnesses than the average employee in America.[ii]

Almost anything can be a stressor, but I find this list of eleven common stress triggers listed by Whole Living: Body+Soul in Balance especially handy, since the ideas in STOP! are designed to address them:[iii]

  • Money issues

  • A job that never ends

  • A job you don’t like

  • Your relationships

  • Constant caregiving

  • Holiday pressure

  • Taking on too much

  • Not enough quality time

  • Striving to be perfect

  • Lack of passion

  • Disorganized clutter

You will likely not be able to control many of the stressors in your world, but you can alter your reaction to them. Thus, it is imperative that we learn how to quit the behaviors that leave you constantly overwhelmed and stressed. At a world health conference of leading healthcare professionals, the results of a long-term study were released that tracked whether people who’d been told that they would die in five years or less if they didn’t make drastic lifestyle changes actually did so. Shockingly, only one out of every nine people elected to STOP doing the behaviors that had led to such a poor prognosis.

I welcome your feedback.

Joy to you!

Eric Parmenter

[i] Peter Valdes, “Worst drivers: teens, doctors, lawyers,” CNN Money, November 18, 2004,

[ii] Eric Parmenter, “An Unhealthy Workforce,” HR Pulse, Fall 2011.

[iii] “11 Common Stress Triggers,” item 2, “Money Issues,” Whole Living: Body+Soul in Balance,

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