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"Chuck Norris doesn't read books; he stares them down until he gets the information he wants out of them."
- ChuckNorrisFactsdotcom

Monday, April 18, 2005
Lileks has discovered the inevitable correlation between
stress and illness.

I remember being utterly amazed when I learned in class that emotional stress -like an argument- seriously crashes the immune system within the space of two hours. It's temporary of course, but basically it means that firing your adrenal glands gives you temporary AIDS. That's a ridiculous oversimplification, but you get the gist.

Stress, minor everyday stress, can cause you to fall victim to whatever evil germ passes your way during that brief period. (Obviously this also applies to physical stress and prolonged stress.) Believe me it's true. However, knowing this, it's possible to avert much of the toll by making sure that your body has adequate stores of nutrients, hydration and rest with which to repair itself from the extra wear and tear. That means taking your vitamins, drinking an extra glass of water, and getting an extra hour of sleep.

(A side note on sleep: Uninterrupted sleep is much much better than interrupted sleep. More sleep is better than less. The longer you're asleep the more time you spend in the most restorative phase of sleep. So sleeping for 7 hours rather than 8 actually costs you a larger portion of the restorative quality of sleep than one would assume. The same is true of disrupting the last hour of sleep by abusing the snooze button.)

Crying also helps. Oddly enough, the body excretes stress chemicals in tears. The same stress chemicals that spike prior to a heart attack get shed in tears. Better out than in. Plus, it'll make you feel better and less likely to break down at a strategically inopportune moment during a stressful situation.

It's not such a strange idea that the body requires a little extra TLC when you're asking more of it than usual. The key thing is to remember that any kind of stress means that you're asking more of your physical body than you usually do. Another benefit is that taking care of your body will help keep your mind in the best condition possible in any kind of trying time.

posted by Rachel 4/18/2005
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