Stressors: Obvious and Not So Obvious

When my son was born he had a serious condition which fortunately was easily corrected by surgery.  My husband and I of course took turns spending 24 hours a day at the hospital.  On the entrance wall was a huge chart assigning values to  various stressors.  The idea, simplistic as it was, was to add up the values of the stressors affecting your life and see where it fell on a scale from extreme to very little.  What you did with that information was up to you. This was the first time  that I realized that events that I would usually think of as  positive  could be stressors.  The one that stuck out for me was buying a new home.

As detailed in my memoir Examined Lives, I led a trauma-filled childhood and then many years later suffered three major depressions.   So the recent research showing that childhood trauma has lasting effects is hardly surprising to me.

Can the effects of stress last a lifetime?

But there were two more recently studied sources of stressors involving our everyday activities that did surprise me.  One is the food we eat or rather do not eat.

The other is our phone use.  It turns out it is addictive.  That seems apparent as you watch people constantly working their phones on the street, in elevators, walking with their children and/or dogs when they should be paying attention to what is around them.  But it turns out using it raises the level of cortisol in our system—not good for many potential health conditions, including our mental health.  The article from the NY Times below gives sensible advice on how to lower your dependence on your phone.  It is worth considering!



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