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The impact of stress
llee08032
Posted: Sunday, July 31, 2016 10:06 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408


Stress impacts cognition. Some research suggests that long term stress can lead to dementia, cognitive impairment and cognitive decline. Because we are already cognitively impaired we are hyper-sensitive and vulnerable to the impact of stress. While it is impossible to completely eliminate stress from our lives we must diligently search for ways in which we can reduce, manage and minimize stress to the best of our capacity.

The body’s nervous system often does a poor job of distinguishing between daily stressors and life-threatening events. If you’re stressed over an argument with a friend, a traffic jam on your commute, or a mountain of bills, for example, your body can still react as if you’re facing a life-or-death situation.


Cognitive signs of stress include:

  • mental slowness
  • confusion
  • general negative attitudes or thoughts
  • constant worry
  • your mind races at times
  • difficulty concentrating
  • forgetfulness
  • difficulty thinking in a logical sequence
  • the sense that life is overwhelming; you can’t problem-solve

Emotional signs of stress include:

  • irritation
  • no sense of humor
  • frustration
  • jumpiness, overexcitability
  • feeling overworked
  • feeling overwhelmed
  • sense of helplessness
  • apathy

Behavioral signs of stress include:

  • decreased contact with family and friends
  • poor work relations
  • sense of loneliness
  • decreased sex drive
  • avoiding others and others avoid you because you’re cranky
  • failing to set aside times for relaxation through activities such as hobbies, music, art or reading


The excitation caused by stress makes complex and subtle thought processes more difficult. There is too much noise in the nervous system. This leads to phenomena such as "freezing" (being unable to think straight or remember important information). Under stress, a person becomes more reactive and impulsive and more likely to do something that looks maladaptive (harmful, not constructive) to others. 

The body’s stress response

When you need (or think you need) to defend yourself or run away from danger, your body prepares for mobilization. The nervous system rouses for emergency action—preparing you to either fight or flee from the danger at hand.

If mobilization fails, the body freezes instead, a response known as immobilization. In extreme, life-threatening situations, you may even lose consciousness, enabling you to survive high levels of physical pain. This can leave you traumatized or unable to move on.


 


llee08032
Posted: Sunday, July 31, 2016 10:14 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408


Managing stress = dementia survival skills. How do you cope with and manage stress in your life?

Factors that influence your stress tolerance

Your resiliency to stress depends on many factors, but there are steps you can take to improve your tolerance and handle more setbacks and challenges without becoming overwhelmed by stress.

  • Emotional awareness. Many of us are so used to being overloaded with stress that we don't even notice it anymore. Feeling stressed feels normal. But awareness of what you’re feeling, physically and emotionally, can have a profound effect on both your stress tolerance and how you go about reducing stress. Having the emotional awareness to recognize when you’re stressed and then being able to calm and soothe yourself can increase your tolerance to stress and help you bounce back from adversity. It’s a skill that can be learned at any age with HelpGuide’s free emotional intelligence toolkit.
  • The quality of your relationships and support network. Social engagement has always been a human being’s most evolved response to life’s stressors. So it’s no surprise that people with a strong network of friends and family—with whom they’re comfortable sharing emotions—are better able to tolerate stress. On the flip side, the more lonely and isolated you are, the less opportunity you have for social engagement and the greater your vulnerability to stress.
  • Physical activity. Regular exercise can lift your mood and serve as a distraction to your worries, allowing you to find some quiet time and break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed stress and anxiety.
  • Diet. The food you eat can improve or worsen your mood and affect your ability to cope with life’s stressors. Eating a diet full of processed and convenience food, refined carbohydrates, and sugary snacks can worsen symptoms of stress while eating a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, high-quality protein, and healthy fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids, can help you better cope with life’s ups and downs.

Other factors that influence your stress tolerance

  • Your sense of control – It’s easier to take stress in your stride if you have confidence in your ability to influence events and persevere through challenges. This is why hardship or persistent money worries can be major stressors for so many of us. If you feel like things are out of your control, you’re likely to have less tolerance for stress.
  • Your attitude and outlook – Hopeful people are often more stress-hardy. They tend to embrace challenges, have a stronger sense of humor, and accept change as an inevitable part of life.
  • Your knowledge and preparation – The more you know about a stressful situation, including how long it will last and what to expect, the easier it is to cope. For example, if you go into surgery with a realistic picture of what to expect post-op, a painful recovery will be less stressful than if you were expecting to bounce back immediately.

Tips for coping with stress

Whether you’re trying to build your tolerance to stress or cope with its symptoms, you have much more control over stress than you might think. Unfortunately, many of us try to deal with stress in ways that only compound the problem. We drink too much to unwind at the end of a stressful day, fill up on comfort food, zone out in front of the TV for hours, use pills to relax, or lash out at other people. However, there are many healthier and more effective ways to cope with stress and its symptoms.

Coping with stress and its symptoms tip 1: Get moving

This is something you can do right now to help yourself start to feel better. Activities that require moving both your arms and your legs are particularly effective at managing stress. Rhythmic exercises such as walking, running, swimming, dancing, and aerobic classes are good choices, especially if you exercise mindfully (focusing your attention on the physical sensations you experience as you move). If you’ve been traumatized or experienced the immobilization stress response, mindfully exercising in this way can help you to become "unstuck" and move on.

Read: How to Start Exercising and Stick to It

Coping with stress and its symptoms tip 2: Engage socially

The simple act of talking face to face with another human can trigger hormones that relieve stress when you're feeling uncomfortable, unsure, or unsafe. Even just a brief exchange of kind words or a friendly look from another human being can help calm and soothe your nervous system. Being helpful and friendly to others delivers stress-reducing pleasure as well as providing great opportunities to expand your social network.

Read: How to Make Good Friends

Two natural ways to quickly relieve stress

  1. Socially interacting with another person—making eye contact, listening, feeling understood—can quickly put the brakes on the “fight-or-flight” or mobilization stress response. Responding to stress with positive social engagement also means that body functions such as the immune system, blood pressure, heartbeat, and digestion continue to work uninterrupted.
  2. Another fast way to relieve stress is by engaging one or more of your senses—sight, sound, taste, smell, touch, or movement. The key is to find the sensory input that works for you. Does listening to an uplifting song make you feel calm? Or smelling ground coffee? Or maybe petting an animal works quickly to make you feel centered? Everyone responds to sensory input a little differently, so experiment to find what works best for you.

Coping with stress and its symptoms tip 3: Set aside relaxation time

Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the opposite of the fight or flight or mobilization stress response.

Read: Relaxation Techniques for Stress Relief

Coping with stress and its symptoms tip 4: Eat a healthy diet

Eating a healthy diet isn’t about eating bland food, adhering to strict dietary limitations, or depriving yourself of the foods you love. But by re-examining your existing diet and experimenting with new ways of eating that promote mental health, you can find an eating plan that not only helps to relieve stress, but also boosts your energy, improves your outlook, and stabilizes your mood.

Read: Healthy Eating

Coping with stress and its symptoms tip 5: Get Plenty of Sleep

Feeling tired can increase stress by causing you to think irrationally. At the same time, chronic stress can disrupt your sleep. Whether you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night, there are plenty of ways to improve your sleep so you feel less stressed and more productive and emotionally balanced.

Read: How to Sleep Better


llee08032
Posted: Sunday, July 31, 2016 10:28 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408


The Emotional Intelligence Toolkit helps you:

  • Change self-defeating moods and attitudes
  • Master the skill of quick stress relief
  • Boost EQ by learning to stay connected to what you feel as well as think
  • Follow through on your hopes and dreams

free emotional intelligence toolkit.


llee08032
Posted: Sunday, July 31, 2016 10:32 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408


Overwhelmed = Stress Overload Alert! Which = tackling too much, multitasking, overextending yourself, not taking care of you, not giving yourself needed rest breaks, time outs, not doing fun things, not searching for meaningness and happiness enough, not setting boundaries with others, getting sucked into drama, not allowing yourself to just do nothing, feel your feelings about being newly diagnosed, not letting out your feelings, not getting enough support, feeling misunderstood, not getting validation, not enjoying nature, overly high expectations of your current capacity, judging yourself too harshly, not cutting yourself some slack, not quickly forgiving yourself when you screw something up, not just letting things go on some days, not eliminating stress in your life enough, forgetting to breathe deeply, love passionately, and then smacking your face into the brick wall over and over again and not coming to the realization that it is a process of trial and error. 
Iris L.
Posted: Sunday, July 31, 2016 3:27 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 17580


Thanks for posting, Ilee.  What you posted could be put into a little booklet and given to all PWDs.


I consulted an LCSW who gave me simple but excellent advice about handling stress and anxiety, which goes along with your tip 3.  She told me about deep breathing.  It sounds simple, but it worked.   I used to have anxiety spells.  In fact, I used to live with anxiety.  


But I put her advice into play, and did my deep breathing exercises whenever I had an anxiety spell.  Over time, the deep breathing worked.  Now, I seldom have an anxiety spell.  If I do, I practice deep breathing, and very shortly the anxiety spell is broken.  


Some people might find it beneficial to breath into a paper bag.  


I also use the other methods you mention above, which are part of Best Practices.


Iris L.


The_Sun_Still_Rises
Posted: Monday, August 1, 2016 6:02 PM
Joined: 7/24/2015
Posts: 3020


I agree, thanks for posting.  I found it helpful when I was first dx'd an came on here...everyone was talking about how stress made us worse.  Now, stress does no cause actual dementia...or worsen the disease process...but, it can greatly worsen our abilities temporarily to such an extent that it is well worth adding stress management our best practices list. 

As for my aphasia, it makes it real visible others how stress affects us.  I can talk pretty good most the time...but as soon as I get stressed, you real hear it in my speech.  A lot of stress, an I can almost no longer talk at all.  Some words will be there my brain...but the ability get them out my mouth, or make my mouth move - gone. 

<3


a_step@a_time
Posted: Tuesday, August 2, 2016 4:38 AM
Joined: 11/21/2015
Posts: 237


GGood post,Thanks!
Paul Hornback
Posted: Tuesday, August 2, 2016 11:44 AM
Joined: 8/9/2013
Posts: 584


Great post. Stress is something we all need to avoid. In fact, when I was diagnosed with EOAD my neurologist instructed me to reduce stress in my life at all costs.

God bless, Paul


llee08032
Posted: Wednesday, August 3, 2016 8:05 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408


Science has proven that we can never underestimate the powerful impact of stress on our bodies, brains and lives. I have some new stressors at work over the past weeks and I am not going allow stress to kick my butt!
Iris L.
Posted: Wednesday, August 3, 2016 12:42 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 17580


I think it becomes an Ah-ha moment when we realize that we do have the ability to control our stress responses.  We may need to repeat the Ah-ha moment, because new stressors appear, and the old stressors may reappear.  But we must remind ourselves to reach into our toolbox of stress relief, and pick one or more tools, and use them!


Iris L.


alz+
Posted: Thursday, August 4, 2016 4:35 PM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608


yes- this should be a booklet.

people probably underestimate the IMPROVEMENT in thinking that comes from just cutting off chronic stressors.

Very hard for me to to do but things were so out of hand I did manage to change the way I react to some things. Each person has some things that just drive them nuts.

One of my first to go was about screwing up, losing things, whatever. I started to forgive myself for all small crimes as soon as possible. Within minutes.

That goes for old wounds. Worth the time to let it go, and if not forever, for a minute, an hour, a day, and then finally it does not haunt me anymore.

Great post, - you put a lot of work into this L lee, appreciate it.


WildRose
Posted: Tuesday, August 9, 2016 8:27 PM
Joined: 7/6/2016
Posts: 19


WOW... excellent. I have found that my stress tolerance has really diminished. It's a self-perpetuating cycle: stress seems to impact my cognition, and cognitive difficulties produce stress that is more difficult to deal with because I can't so easily *think* my way through situations and stressors, creating more cognitive difficulties. Lather, rinse, repeat. 

I am feeling the need to simplify my life as much as I can, and become better at establishing boundaries (e.g., when friend wants to do several things in a weekend, say, "I can only attend one event this weekend - which would you prefer that I attend?"). 


llee08032
Posted: Saturday, August 20, 2016 7:35 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408


Well I've been had again and fallen victim to stress! When I say fallen I mean I was in stress mode at work and rushing around not looking where I was going, tripped over a floor protection mat and injured my right knee. Being prone to accidents is another example of the repercussions of stress. 

It seemed to sneak right up on me starting with stress in my personal life and then a big stressor at work which will involve a criminal investigation. I couldn't avoid either of these particular stressors but I am responsible for the way I let the stress get to me and not managing the stress.  I let my emotions get the best of me and felt very angry. I had to contain and control my anger which got the best of me in the end.

Knee is swollen and bruised, no broken bones. The police will conduct their investigation and the persons involved in the incident at work will have consequences to pay. I have until Thursday to recover with  my knee. Personal problem has been resolved. Again I am reminded that I need not do anything when things like this happen but to let go and let God. He's covered all of this without any help from me. 

Did I mention that when you think you're responsible for controlling certain situations, events and other people that it creates stress in your life?



llee08032
Posted: Wednesday, August 24, 2016 8:48 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408


Well, my knee thankfully, is feeling better and the swelling has gone down. It's below the knee that is bruised and feels tight and painful.  The workman's comp Dr cleared me to go back to work last Friday, however I had already planned benefit time scheduled off until tomorrow. Basically, I've spent my vacation time on the couch resting and icing my leg. I'm hoping to feel better after the weekend.
Michael Ellenbogen
Posted: Wednesday, August 24, 2016 10:39 AM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 4036


 I am so sorry you had to deal with this Lee. I am glad you are better. We do become what I consider clumsy in many ways that is out of our control and not thinking safety when we do things. It’s probably because we can only think of one thing at a time and the stress real screws that up.   


BlueSkies
Posted: Wednesday, August 24, 2016 3:50 PM
Joined: 2/24/2016
Posts: 1096


Sorry to hear of your problem llee.     Hope your doing better soon.
jfkoc
Posted: Wednesday, August 24, 2016 4:33 PM
Joined: 12/4/2011
Posts: 20254


Please keep us updated...
llee08032
Posted: Thursday, August 25, 2016 7:22 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408


Clumsiness has taken on a whole new meaning, Michael. Things like keys for example, just drop out of my hands only to pick them up and drop them again several times over. It seems I can grasp larger objects better than smaller objects. Several times each day I go to step with my right foot crossing over my left ankle and catch myself and realize I cannot step this way. Other times I have trouble turning around. This may sound weird but sometimes I can feel the disconnect between brain and body and how the signal is slowed and I just pause and wait before continuing to move until there is a connection and I can move correctly. It's like moving in slow motion with pauses in between. Does anyone else have this feeling like the brain signals for body movement is slowed? Have problems grasping small objects? Feel like you have to stop and think about moving before you move?

Thank you, Michael, Blueskies and Jkoc. 


llee08032
Posted: Friday, August 26, 2016 5:58 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408


Blueskies,

Speaking of stress, how is your move going? 


BlueSkies
Posted: Friday, August 26, 2016 9:27 AM
Joined: 2/24/2016
Posts: 1096


Hi llee, thanks for asking.  We are suppose to close on our new house next week.  We have the one we are living in for sale.  Trying to keep this house show ready with three dogs and a cat is a lot of fun, lol.  Also trying to prepare by packing a lot of things.  Soon as we close next week it will be like a whirlwind I am sure.  We will have to do some things to the new house before we can move in.  Lots of cleaning, new floors, counter tops and a lot of painting.  I also am dealing with a recurrence of skin cancer, ugh!.  And...my daughter just called yesterday and will be coming to visit about a week after closing and the day before my neuropsych testing in Birmingham.  I haven't seen her in a long time, so I am really excited about her coming.  Just wish we weren't in the middle of so much going on during her visit, but we will have a great time anyway.  I definitely have my plate full, but very happy to be alive and still going.   

 


llee08032
Posted: Saturday, August 27, 2016 9:05 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408


Too many irons in the fire Blueskies! I remember keeping the house show ready and always think of Loretta Laroche, when she jokes about the "bed checker's" coming to make sure you make your bed everyday. Check out her videos below. Laughter is a stress buster!

I'm sorry to hear about the skin cancer recurrence and hope all goes well with your treatment.

Sounds like you may want to put some things on hold so you can fully enjoy your visit with your daughter. Look at as nice break. Everything will still be there after the visit.

Loretta LaRoche: The Joy of Stress - YouTube

 

Loretta LaRoche: Emmy-Winning Humorist, Stress Management

 



llee08032
Posted: Sunday, August 28, 2016 9:57 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408


My injured leg swelled really bad in work on Friday all the way down to my foot. The pressure from the swelling was really painful so I returned to urgent care. The urgent care Dr sent me to ER saying that the enormity of the swelling could possibly mean I had a blood clot! I had Ultrasound and another series of X-rays which thankfully showed no blood clot or breaks. I was at the ER until after midnight and got lost on the way home for a short period of time. It's seems as if I sprained my whole leg really bad! Back to work tomorrow.
BlueSkies
Posted: Sunday, August 28, 2016 1:38 PM
Joined: 2/24/2016
Posts: 1096


So sorry llee that you are having such a difficult time.  So hope things turn for the better soon.  

Yes, I have too much going on, lol.  Can't be helped unfortunately right now, but I am dropping everything when my daughter gets here.  I do know my priorities   

Take care and get well soon!


llee08032
Posted: Tuesday, August 30, 2016 7:05 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408


I made it through work yesterday w/o too much swelling and pain. Leg feels better this morning. Thanks for the well wishes!
Iris L.
Posted: Tuesday, August 30, 2016 10:06 AM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 17580


I'm glad your leg is healing, Ilee, and that you were able to make it through work.  It's so important for you.


Yes, I am aware that I deliberately move slower, in order to avoid stumbling and falling.  It's also important for me not to be distracted while walking, so I can pay attention to where my feet are going.   


Iris L.


llee08032
Posted: Thursday, September 8, 2016 7:40 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408


Paying attention to where my feet are going these days seems to require full attention and focus.  Remember the days of talking and walking at the same time? Oh well.

Leg and foot still tender, swollen and bruised post 21 days since fall. With osteoporosis in left hip I'm praying I don't have a right "bad leg" on my strong side!

Trying to keep my head above water with several stressors and extra responsibilities at work and stress in personal life that can't be helped.


Iris L.
Posted: Thursday, September 8, 2016 11:33 AM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 17580


Ilee, it's important for you to consciously and deliberately set aside time to focus and destress.  You have a lot on your plate, and injury only makes things worse.  Remember your nutrition, because it does have an effect on healing.  I hope you will be feeling better soon!


Iris L.


llee08032
Posted: Sunday, September 11, 2016 8:46 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408


Thanks Iris!
Unforgiven
Posted: Sunday, September 11, 2016 12:15 PM
Joined: 1/28/2013
Posts: 2660


There are also guided meditation videos available on Youtube that you may find helpful.  I tried a few.  Mostly, classical music from the Romantic era works best for me.  Dvorak's 9th Symphony, From the New World has the power to carry me away.
alz+
Posted: Thursday, September 15, 2016 8:08 AM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608


L lee- re-read this post this morning, had forgotten about the insight you shared in these posts and needed to read all this again!

had not been at board enough to know you injured your leg - and with all pressure in life you come here to help others.

I think I understand about having to monitor how I do things too. what you wrote makes sense to me.

you are so smart and so kind and when we are doing great how fun it is to help others!

reading about YOUR fall and hospital and recovery stopped me from panic (I am in the overwhelmed, oversaturated distress state) and thinking of your well being calmed me down.

Iris being mindful of breath, yes it helps. need to keep reminding myself of this!

the confusion of the body seems to be a slowing down between intention and action. Might be at the point where my ability to walk normally and quickly on the oil feels good, but repercussions of exercise - the after pain - maybe the slowing down was important?

i am confused today, stress chemicals are toxins after a few minutes. I am going to re-read your info on stress to help me unwind today.how quickly my mind went from all self focused to your situation - is that the ALZ altruism factor?

love you all so much, so smart, such good people.


alz+
Posted: Thursday, September 15, 2016 8:12 AM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608


L lee- re-read this post this morning, had forgotten about the insight you shared in these posts and needed to read all this again!

had not been at board enough to know you injured your leg - and with all pressure in life you come here to help others.

I think I understand about having to monitor how I do things too. what you wrote makes sense to me.

you are so smart and so kind and when we are doing great how fun it is to help others!

reading about YOUR fall and hospital and recovery stopped me from panic (I am in the overwhelmed, oversaturated distress state) and thinking of your well being calmed me down.

Iris being mindful of breath, yes it helps. need to keep reminding myself of this!

the confusion of the body  - seems to be a slowing down between intention and action. Might be at the point where my ability to walk normally and quickly on the oil feels good, but repercussions of exercise - the after pain - maybe the slowing down was important?

thinking maybe body knows what is best after all? also visual field loss = tripping and having to be consciously moving about.

i am confused today, stress chemicals are toxins after a few minutes. I am going to re-read your info on stress to help me unwind today.how quickly my mind went from all self focused to your situation - is that the ALZ altruism factor?

love you all so much, so smart, such good people.


Wommant
Posted: Thursday, September 15, 2016 2:08 PM
Joined: 9/8/2016
Posts: 45


Unforgiven wrote:
There are also guided meditation videos available on Youtube that you may find helpful.  I tried a few.  Mostly, classical music from the Romantic era works best for me.  Dvorak's 9th Symphony, From the New World has the power to carry me away.
I'm also in love with Dvorak's 9th symphony

Wommant
Posted: Thursday, September 15, 2016 2:10 PM
Joined: 9/8/2016
Posts: 45


and by the way, I think that stress has an impact on everything... mental, physical, nervous system etc. etc.. thanks for sharing it with us.
llee08032
Posted: Saturday, September 17, 2016 9:56 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408


I love you all. I am going to try to decompress today and tomorrow and take care of myself. Maybe go to park and feed the ducks and geese and enjoy the breezy cool weather and low humidity. I will check out the 9th symphony. Thank you all for your strength, support and guidance. Leg is less painful, but still swelling and tight all down to my foot more so toward the end of the day. Tomorrow will be a month since I fell. 

Remembering the days of falling and getting back up like nothing happened with a mild bruise or two.


Iris L.
Posted: Saturday, September 17, 2016 1:26 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 17580


Those days are over for all of us, Ilee, dementia or not.  The social worker asked me if I had fallen.  Up until she asked me, I had not fallen.  But after she asked, I fell several times!  Fortunately, I didn't hurt myself.  


But it became apparent to me that I must be on the lookout for possible trip hazards and to watch my steps, because I already knew that I don't heal as quickly as I did when I was younger.  Also, I have noticed that I bruise easier now.


All this to say, this is just how it is for us "mature" adults now.  We must become extra cautious!  


Ilee, I am wishing you continued swift healing and safe walking in the future!


Iris L.