1. Which type of stress is most harmful to my body?
A. Long-term stress B. Short-term stress
A. Because it can build over time, long-term stress can sap your body's strength more than short-term stress. Chronic stress, like being in a bad relationship, can trigger underlying heart problems, says Rachel Lampert, M.D., associate professor at Yale University School of Medicine, who has studied connection between stress and the heart since 2001. It can ultimately cause acute weakness of the heart, which makes meeting the body's momentous demands more difficult for the organ, Lampert says. You may also put yourself at greater risk of developing coronary artery disease, which impedes the delivery of oxygen and blood to the heart. Still, short-term stress, like prepping for an importa job interview, can alos trigger acute cardiac events such as heart attack or arrhythmia in individuals who are already prone to these problems, Lampert says.
2. There is such a thing as good stress.
A. True B. False
A. Both good and bad stress may send a shot of adrenaline to the heart, but good stress is actually a learning experience the body can handle easily, such as a challenging math problem. "For example, striving to achieve is somewhat stressful, but it is a good stress; it's better than sitting down doing nothing," Lampert says. Bad stress often surrounds a repeated event that can have a long-term effect, such as mentally obsessing over your health or turning to your financial plan B thanks to a slump in the economy. "What we think of as negative stress are stressor that are always with you," Lampert says.
A. Someone stuck in a bad job B. Someone with a bad childhood
B. Although having a job you don't love can test your nerves, generally women who are isolated or have experience loss are often more at risk for negative stress. Losing a parent or your significant other can lead to a buildup of chronic stress, especially if the woman has not support system around, says Rajita Sinha, M.D., director of the Yale Stress Center. "A big one we don't like to talk about is having a history of trauma; it is a big one to underscore for women," Sinha says, including physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. However, one challenging event for one person may not have any effect on another.
4. Connecting with your distant buds on Facebook is a great way to reduce stress.
A. True B. False
B. Sure, commenting on all your camp friends' photos is fun, but your Facebooking doesn't replace actual face time. In one of many studies linking social ties to better health, an Ohio State University survey found that participants who ID'd themselves as lonely had higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that increases the risk of heart disease. Conversely, having a strong (real) social network improves immune function, protects heart health, and wards off depression and anxiety. You do the math.
5. Which is a red flag indicating that stress is secretly building?
A. Unwanted poundage become more difficult to shed B. Feeling the constant need of support
A. It's your unwavering belly fat that can be a sign that you're battling stress. And being stressed can cause you to retreat from your friends and family instead of seeking them for help. "It's a change in your behavior," says Sinha. "Feeling the need to just get away from everything." Once the stress dam breaks, it's not just your heart that's in trouble. Stress can alter your metabolic weight and decrease your ability to fight infections over time, too. "Stress has this sort of insidious, silent quality to it when it's building. "The main reason to care is it can creep up on you." She advices to be in touch wit your body to help stop stress in its tracks. Notice any diet changes. Craving fatty foods, caffeine, sugar, restless sleep—these are all signs that you're out of balance.
6. Which is better for fighting stress0related weight gain?
A. Cramming in quick exercise, like a 10-minute sprint B. Hitting the sack for a full eight hours of sleep
B. Sleep plays a huge role in regulating cortisol, a stress hormone. Failing to get at least six hours can increase those levels by 50 percent. Exercise can also be a great way to stamp out stress, but you'll need to get active for at least 30 minutes to see any significant changes. Sleep deprivation can also prompt you to eat more by increasing the amount of the body's ghrelin, a hormone that activates your appetite. That combined with a boost in your body's cortisol from lack of shut-eye, and chances are the foods that you're craving won't be low in calories or fat.
7. Which activity offers better stress relief?
A. Donating 10 minutes a day to quiet reading time B. Donating two hours a week to group dance lessons
B. Activities that involve you interacting with others may be more helpful in managing stress in the long run. Of course, pick something that you like to do (no one's forcing you to dance), like signing up for tae kwon do lessons, an outdoor running team, or a volunteer group. Activities that increase your heart rate will increase serotonin, a chemical that aids in warding off depression and anxiety. And volunteering has been linked to lower rates of heart disease, stress, and depression—in fact, one study shows that just thinking about doing something altruistic releases the glee-inducing chemicals serotonin and dopamine.
8. When it comes to reducing stress, meditation outweighs a spontaneous iTunes-blasting dance party.
A. True B. False
A. Daily meditation can reduce anxiety and strengthen your immune system and mental dexterity over time. Neuroscientist Richard Davidson, Ph.D., from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, found that people who consistently practice meditation display lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol via blood test than non-meditating individuals. Cranking the loud music may feel like an escape, but the louder it gets, the more dangerous it becomes. One of the most common causes of tinnitus (ringing in the ears) is damage to the hearing nerve from very loud noise, including music. Instead, imagine John Mayer serenading you on a private yacht in the Caribbean. Research shows you can zap stress, lower your BP and heart rate, and increase your circulation and digestion with as little as 90 seconds of visual imagery.
9. Which is worse for your heart?
A. Daily coffee B. Processed and refined carbs
B. You may have heard that caffeine can cause high blood pressure, but your daily dose of the dark stuff doesn't actually put you at risk for hypertension. However, eating foods with fewer than three grams of fiber and more than 10 grams of sugar per serving (look at the label) can increase your risk for heart disease and diabetes. It's the caffeinated drinks like sugared and diet colas that you really need to worry about. Avoid caffeine in all your drinks if you have a pre-existing condition. The same goes for those who suffer from heart arrhythmia or anxiety—caffeine can trigger arrhythmia in those who are prone to it and can worsen anxiety.