Lynne Mowbray Stress is something that we all have to deal with at some stage of our lives and is one of the biggest health problems facing women today. Stress is the body’s reaction to fear and pressure. When faced with the source of that fear, our adrenalin starts rushing and extra glucose is pumped into the bloodstream giving us the energy we need to run from that fear, or fight it. Short term stress is experienced when we face an exam, attend a job interview or play in grand final match; we face it, deal with it and it goes. Long term and ongoing stress is extremely damaging to our health and is something that needs addressing and not swept under the carpet. There are many causes of stress: health issues, pressures within the workplace, relationship issues, bullying, financial issues and family problems etc. We need to look out for the symptoms of stress in our friends and family and encourage them to get the help. Symptoms: Anxiety, depression, change in appetite, weight gain, low self esteem, anger, headaches, agitated, feeling overwhelmed, nausea or sick to the stomach, chest pain, insomnia, nervousness, shaking and trembling, sweaty palms, inability to focus, increased use of alcohol and/or cigarettes and drugs, poor judgement, and racing heart etc. Ongoing stress can cause serious mental and physical illnesses if left unchecked and untreated: Mental health problems, personality disorders, heart disease, eating disorders, high blood pressure, depression and suicidal thoughts and cancer. Stress affects all areas of our lives: our behaviour, emotions, physical health and the ability to think clearly. Over the last four years I have had to deal with stress in my own life. Determination, maintaining my sense of humour and surrounding myself with close friends, has helped me immensely. I am blessed to have a group of friends to have coffee with, that all share a great sense of humour. Laughter really is the BEST medicine. Exercise is also paramount and I fell in love with my early morning walks along Yamba’s breakwall. I found it very therapeutic, experiencing the start of a brand new day. My diet changed: I cut out all sugars and carbs and included more fruit and vegetables. We all need to find ways to reduce stress and lighten the load, in our lives.