I come from a long line of "tense" people. My dad suffered from depression and anxiety and my mother was a professional "worrier". Combine those genes and you get some pretty tense kids! Five of us, to be exact.
My dad had to leave his job because of his mental illness when he was in his early 50's - he was lucky to receive a pension from where he worked but money was tight. I'm sure our budget was a constant worry for my mother. The fact that she worried for over 40 years that the maple tree next to our house was going to fall on the house during a storm, and THEN IT DID!!, solidified for her that her worries were real. At that point her Parkinsons-related dementia worsened to the nth degree.
All of us kids, me being the youngest, have been affected by this heritage but to respect their privacy I'll only talk about myself. There have been a few occasions when I've had to take anti-depressants or have found myself overwhelmed by LIFE. I had to drop out of university for one semester due to anxiety but then was readmitted during the 2nd semester. In 1993 I hurt my back and sought help through a pain psychologist. Who knew there was such a person?? It helped tremendously though I had to take pain medication for a long time. (more on that in a future post)
My work is extremely stressful, especially when I have students who are physically aggressive. It's a fine balancing act providing them with a good program while also trying to protect other vulnerable students and also keeping staff safe. Opinions on the best approach varies widely within our staff and we are also required to follow Health and Safety practises and union guidelines. Yet people still get hurt and I take that as a personal failure as it's my classroom. No, I'm not leading up to any recent incidents - things have been going fairly well this week but I internalize all incidents, dream about them, meet about them, analyze them and live with them - it's not fun and the stress finds its own ways of letting itself be known.
Physically there are many ways that stress has affected me over the years (hence my plan for early retirement) - pain in the neck, shoulders and back, migraine headaches, stupid accidents which have resulted in a pinched nerve (off for a month with that one) and of course actual physical injuries caused by aggressive acts in the classroom - 2 years ago I was put in a headlock twice over the course of one week which resulted in another month off, physical therapy, pain meds etc.
Another way stress lets itself be known is through skin disorders. Right now I have TWO because as we know TWO is twice as much fun! A few months ago I noticed a strange rash on the back of my leg:
Truthfully, the shingles virus never goes away. If you've had chickenpox you carry the shingles virus. It doesn't usually make an appearance until you are in your 50's and I believe women are more susceptible than men. I consider myself fortunate because my outbreaks have been relatively minor - I've never had them on my torso or head - just on my arm.
Of course it's that monster - STRESS - that causes the outbreaks, and also is a cause of psoriasis.
The message here?? The less stress in your life the better off you will be. Try to have a career that you love and that doesn't stress you out too badly. A small amount of stress is good for you but everyone needs to find the right balance for them. Get lots of exercise - stay positive. Obviously I didn't learn about the effects of stress until it was too late to change my career. Once I retire (in 37 days) I will devote myself to living a more, if not completely, stress-free life!!
If you have an interest in this topic here is a great article.