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Christine Todino

The stress
of the city:
hidden killer

Stress. In the modern world it’s hard to avoid it. Wherever you live, there are things that may cause you stress. But when you live in a city, there seems to be more stressful surroundings: crowds, pollution, noise, crime and traffic jams. All of that can make it hard to relax.

You may not be able to get rid of the crowds, but you can reduce stress in your life. Too much stress is actually dangerous to your health. Many serious medical conditions are caused by too much stress. Stress can literally be a killer. That’s why it’s very important to do something about the stress in your life.

According to Niall Cooper, a qualified massage therapist based in London, people who live in cities build up a lot of stress. ”There’s so much to do, and everybody wants to do it all,” he says. ”City people are always busy and they build up tension without knowing it.” Cooper should know. He tries to undo the damage of stress every day. ”Stress shows up in the body as ‘muscular tension’,” he says. ”It usually targets the upper back, shoulders and lower back - the areas surrounding the spine. This can lead to severe health problems.”

Cooper recommends a few simple stress-relieving stretches. Breathe deeply to get the full relaxation benefits from these stretches. ”It sounds simple, but it’s something many people forget. The body relaxes when you breathe out,” he says.

Lock fingers behind head. (Your neck should be in a relaxed forward position.) The weight of your arms and hands increases the stretch. Do not pull.

Head down. Arch back up. Change to sitting on heel position. Return to starting position. Change back to sitting on right heel. Bring arms toward left. Repeat changing to left heel, arms to right.

Exercise is another good way to reduce stress. Janie O’Brien, a fitness trainer in Sydney, Australia, suggests strength training and weight training. ”One of the great things about weight training is that you can take your anger and tension out on the weights, instead of on the people around you,” O’Brien says. One of the benefits of strength training is that it produces endorphins which are groups of proteins that have strong relaxing properties. Endorphins occur naturally in the brain. O’Brien says that exercise releases physical stress in the muscles and makes you stronger. And a healthy body gives you more protection from serious stress problems.

Christopher M-H Kim, MD, a New Jersey-based stress specialist, says that when a person is in a stressful situation, the body releases certain hormones. These hormones slow the digestion and increase the heartbeat, respiration and perspiration. When the tense situation is over, the body fixes the damage that was done. If the stress continues, the body can’t fix the problems, and the problems get worse. Stress can lead to very high blood pressure, ulcers, indigestion, constipation and anorexia. Anorexia is especially dangerous. When a person has anorexia, generally they refuse to eat. This can cause high blood pressure, and it can lead to a stroke. These conditions can be fatal.

The most important thing you can do is to recognize stress and try to reduce it. If you suddenly find yourself in a tense situation - no matter where you are, stop for a minute, close your eyes, breathe and do a few simple stretches. If you realize stress has become a constant part of your life, do something about it. For example, you can go to a gym and take out your tension on a boxing punching bag or with weights. You can also go to the park (in the daytime) and take a brisk walk or run.

Dr. Kim also strongly recommends meditation. Take 15 minutes before bed to relieve your mind of thoughts and problems. You will have a better night’s sleep. This is very helpful in lowering your stress. If you find that stress is hurting your health, see a doctor for help immediately.

Source: New English Digest


hidden killer: silent causal agent (silencioso agente exterminador)
hard to avoid it: difficult to cope with (difícil de evitar)
crowds: large numbers of people (aglomeraciones, multitudes)
crime: law-breaking acts (delitos)
you may not be able: here, "may" expresses possibility (es posible que no puedas)
to get rid of: to do away with (sacarte de encima)
too much: excessive or unreasonable (demasiado)
killer: causal agent resulting in death (agente exterminador)
build up: develop (genera)
to undo: to cancel, annul, or reverse an action or its effect (de anular)
shows up: appears, becomes visible (surge, aparece)
as: having the condition of (como, con la forma de)
targets: aims at (apunta a)
spine: backbone (columna vertebral)
stress-relieving stretches: exercises designed to extend the limbs and muscles to their full extent so as to relieve stress (estiramientos para aliviar el estrés)
do not pull: do not apply force to move (no hagas fuerza)
sitting on heel position: sitting on your heels (posición de sentado/a sobre los talones)
anger: strong emotion usually oriented toward some real or supposed grievance (ira, rabia)

endorphins: neurochemicals (endorfinas)
brain: a part of the central nervous system (cerebro)
releases: frees, liberates (libera)
makes you stronger: strengthens you (te fortalece)
New Jersey-based: located in New Jersey (con base en Nueva Jersey)
heartbeat: the rhythmic contraction and expansion of the arteries with each beat of the heart (ritmo cardíaco)
perspiration: sudor, sweat, the process of the sweat glands of the skin (transpiración)
is over: ends, is finished (finaliza)
get worse: become inferior in quality or condition (empeoran)
high blood pressure: high pressure of the circulating blood (presión arterial elevada)
ulcers: inflammatory lesions on the skin or an internal mucous surface (úlceras)
stroke: a sudden loss of consciousness (ataque)
suddenly: all of a sudden (de pronto, repentinamente)
no matter where: wherever (no importa dónde)
boxing punching bag: an inflated ball or bag that is suspended and punched for training in boxing (saco de arena para boxeo)
brisk: quick and energetic (rápida y reconfortante)
to relieve: to alleviate, to provide physical relief (para aliviar)
in lowering: in making lower (para bajar)