Truck News


Back Behind the Wheel: Don’t Stress Out Over It

We have all experienced stressful situations in our lives: being stuck in traffic, meeting deadlines, ongoing financial worries, relationship and family problems, trying to do too many things in too little time.

We have all experienced stressful situations in our lives: being stuck in traffic, meeting deadlines, ongoing financial worries, relationship and family problems, trying to do too many things in too little time.

Stress is an every day event and despite our best efforts we will never be able to completely eliminate it from our lives. Since we can’t eliminate it totally, learning how to identify and cope with it, is the key to managing it.

Stressors can be divided into two categories: short-term stressors (acute stress) and long term stressors (chronic stress).

Acute stress is a reaction to a situation that is, or is perceived to be, an immediate threat. A good example of acute stress is seeing the truck directly in front of you suddenly lose control.

In response to this immediate threat, your bodily responses are mobilized and you go into what is called a fight or flight response.

This fight or flight response is the way our body deals with threatening situations. It is an innate (born with) response that is shared with most other animals. Imagine that you are camping in the woods and suddenly a grizzly bear appears 10 feet in front of you. Your fight or flight response will immediately kick in and you will either fight the bear or take flight (run) to get away from the bear. The fight or flight response is automatic and is controlled by the nervous system, whereby certain things (blood pressure, heart rate, breathing) in your body are triggered to help you deal with the threatening situation.

In most situations of acute stress, the danger will soon pass and your body will return to normal. The fight or flight response is actually helpful because it will increase your ability to perform in critical situations (manoeuvring to avoid hitting the truck in front of you).

Unfortunately, acute stress can also be harmful in certain situations. Surprising your 90-year-old grandmother who has a heart problem may not be the best idea. The body’s response (an increase in heart rate, blood pressure) may be too much for her. Acute stress that happens repeatedly will be chronic.

Often in life we are not only faced with short-lived stressful situation.

When the stress occurs frequently and/or over a long period (months, days, years), it can become a serious problem. This is called chronic stress.

Examples of chronic stress include persistent financial worries, highly pressured work environment, relationship or health problems and loneliness.

As low-level stress becomes persistent our body’s stress response becomes chronically over active and this can led to all sorts of health problems.

Chronic stress has been linked to diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, peptic ulcers, sexual dysfunction, a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, eating disorders, headaches, an increased risk of stroke, sleep disturbances and many other conditions.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to eliminate all the stress from our lives and it is therefore essential to learn how to effectively cope with stress.

People cope with stress differently depending on different factors.

Genetics, personality, early nurturing, education, age and having a good support system all affect how we respond to stress. Coping with stress can either be hurtful or helpful. Let’s first discuss some of the hurtful ways people cope with stress.

These include aggression, lashing out at others, giving up, denial, anger, and indulging or self-medicating oneself. People will often seek relief through alcohol, cigarettes, drug abuse, overeating or passive activities such as watching television.

Unfortunately, these activities actually compound the problem. They interfere with sleep patterns, limit our coping abilities, hurt our self-image and actually lead to increased rather then decreased tension.

Now let’s talk about some positive ways of coping with stress. First, remember that no single method will work for everyone and often combining several methods works best.

Three keys to coping with stress include having a good support system, having a good sense of humour and learning and mastering specific coping strategies.

A support system provides you with not only support and encouragement but also a sounding board to bounce ideas off and a different way of looking at a particular situation.

Friends and family also bring happiness and humour into our lives, which will help balance our stressful situations.

You can never go wrong with a good sense of humour. Humour allows us to experience joy even in stressful situations and studies show that laughter has the opposite effects of stress.

Stress can be detrimental to your health. Learning how to cope and deal with it, will determine how it will affect you.

Try some of the relaxation techniques discussed in last month’s issues and feel the stress leave your body. Until next month, drive safely.

– Dr. Jerry Singh, B. Kin., D.C., runs Trans Canada Chiropractic at 230 Truck Stop in Woodstock, Ont. He can be reached at 888-252-7327, or e-mail

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