Healthy Living Update - It's Stress!

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Americans are working harder and getting sicker. Common behavioral risk factors like smoking, drinking, and obesity, while important, don't completely explain the increasing rates of chronic disease. What's left? Stress.

The American Lifestyle offers so much - technology, entertainment, advanced medical care, hard work, and stress. Yes, stress. And where does it get us? Ironically, for those of us who live in the country that spends more money per person on health care than any other nation in the developed world, there's one thing we can count on. Our state of health is getting worse.

Earlier this month, the Journal of the American Medical Association released data comparing health status between citizens in the US and the UK (May 3, 2006). Their question was this. "Since we're spending so much more on health care here in the US than our neighbors across the pond, is it actually making us any healthier?"

The answer was a resounding "no." The obvious question is "why not?"

Stop for a moment and consider your own situation. If you wanted to optimize your health, what would you do? If you're like most Americans, you'd think about eating healthier, getting some exercise, and backing off cigarettes and alcohol.

Indeed those behaviors do influence health. But despite their value, they did not account for the differences found in the current study. As the article reports, "Important as they are for better population health, a standard set of risk factors (smoking, drinking, and obesity) do not fully account for morbidity differences between and within each country."

What does account for the difference, then? According to Elizabeth Eckert, a healthy living expert who specializes in supporting conscious healthy choices day-to-day, the explantion may be found in one simple word. Stress. "It's no secret that stress influences health," says Eckert. "In fact, experts agree that the physiological changes that result from stress contribute to nearly every major illness."

Have we simply become victims of the American Lifestyle? While that's a tempting explanation, Eckert says we don't have to accept it. "We can all point to the major sources of stress in our lives," she agrees, "But the big myth is that we're powerless to impact them."

So what's a person to do? Eckert suggests simple solutions like keeping your word, resolving personal conflicts, and expressing your creativity. She explores 6 points in all, called Wellness Opportunities, in the guide "Transform Stress Into Power." It can be downloaded free of charge from her Word Cures Web site.

The Word Cures health model is simple, too. Change your language - Change your health. People who want to make a choice for health right now can download "Transform Stress Into Power" at


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Elizabeth Eckert