Working toward and maintaining a healthy state of mind can be just as important as the effort we put forth to improve our individual physical health. Consider some of the following:
According to recent studies, over 40% of adults suffer adverse health effects due to stress, including heart disease, cancer, cirrhosis, migraine headaches, high blood pressure, and ulcers. These can all be linked to leading causes of death for the average American, including suicide. Nearly 90% of visits to primary-care physicians for chronic disorders and complaints are related to stress.
Signs and Symptoms of Short Term Accute Stress:
- back pain
- stomach problems
- rapid heart beat
- muscle aches or body pain
Signs and Symptoms of Acute Stress:
- overworking, overloading, and or disorganization
- prolonged tension headaches
- chest pain
- heart disease
The stressors we may experience as gay men stem from such things as attempting to fit in with societal norms, family perspective, and relationship dynamics. It becomes obvious that stress can be a leading cause of sustained health issues. Other studies even go so far as to say that stress has a direct effect on a healthy immune system over time, which for those of us living with HIV/AIDS is of crucial understanding.
If you're feeling stressed out, you might consider trying some of the following:
- Regular exercise in the form of hiking, biking, or a trip to the gym.
- Meditation has been known for hundreds of years to reduce stress.
- Meditation in action such as Yoga, Tai Chi, Qui Gong and other forms of martial and movement arts.
- Find a hobby that is rewarding to you, such as playing guitar, reading, painting or tending a garden.
- Get away from it all for a short vacation. Whether that means camping, a walk at the beach, or a day at the spa.
- Find others who share your passions and talk about your common issues and strengths. You might even consider one of the many individual counseling programs, upcoming community events, or social and support groups offered at Gay Men’s Health Services as a beginning.