What Can We Learn From Celebrity Stress?

Two lines of reporters near a red carpet and flashing lightsWhat do Rihanna, Barack Obama, Tiger Woods, and Evelyn Lozada all have in common? They all have to learn how to deal with life in a fishbowl. Peering eyes. Alert ears. Probing questions.

For many celebs, privacy is the price they must pay to stay in the spotlight and remain relevant to their fans. On the one hand, fame is a measure of your worth as a performer. But on the other hand, it jeopardizes your privacy, freedom and safety—a double-edged sword.

Although most of us cannot relate to the trappings of celebrity, we all do experience stress. Take a closer examination of say, Beyonce’s career and related stress factor,s and you might be surprised at the similarities to stress in your own life. As tabloids like to say: Stars—they’re just like us!

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How To Deal

The celebrities who cope best have families who can differentiate between their public and private personas. And the same goes for the celebrities themselves. They take that off when they come home. They can let that public part go and be much more spontaneous and sensitive and more like themselves.

Similarly, regular folks can learn to leave the work stress at the office and chill out with family and friends.

According to the American Institute of Stress, stress is tough to define and measure. In addition, there are several kinds of stress. The most common is acute stress. This is the short-term stress triggered by events or incidents that can be thrilling and exhilarating. But too much of it can lead to psychological distress, tension headaches, upset stomach and other symptoms, says the American Psychological Association (APA). The good news is, this type of stress is easy to treat and very manageable. Another kind of stress is episodic acute stress. This is usually a constant condition that’s exhibited by the driven Type A personalities and the worrywarts who tend to be anxious and depressed about the catastrophic nature of life. The last type of stress is chronic stress, one that’s akin to facing never-ending struggles that sap your energy and wear you down. This kind of stress is particularly bad because depending on its cause, people may sometimes internalize it and bear the burden for years without ever realizing there is something wrong.

“Chronic stress kills through suicide, violence, heart attack, stroke and, perhaps, even cancer,” reports the APA. “People wear down to a final, fatal breakdown…. The symptoms of chronic stress are difficult to treat and may require extended medical as well as behavioral treatment and stress management.”

Learn How To De-Stress Like A Celeb

Here are 3 tips that will help you to reduce your stress levels.

1. Learn to manage time and excessive demands.

There are head-spinning demands on celebrities. They’re always on the go with intense time pressures, huge expectations, and they still have to perform! Of course, you’re no different. You’re balancing your work and home life, plus everything else that comes your way – bills, conflicts, emergencies and everything in between.

There really are ways to cope with huge demands and time pressures… one of the best tools in your stress toolkit is to learn to say ‘no’ when you should. If it isn’t a priority, or if it means that you’re going to be over-scheduled, say ‘no’.

2. Stress doesn’t happen overnight.

Musicians lose their voice during their big concert tour or an actor gets sick during his big movie shoot, for a reason. If you’re pushing yourself too hard and you’re losing sleep, getting sick, or are simply exhausted, then you’re already experiencing symptoms of stress and you need to take action now. Don’t wait until you have a huge meltdown and then blame stress after the fact.

Be proactive in managing your health and happiness. Start taking little breaks every day to relax, and listen to your body for signs of stress.

3. Seek real support and long-term solutions.

Celebrities are always on the go and they lack stability in their life. Without the “parachute” of a support network, when they fall, they hit the ground hard. In response to their problems they may snap, abuse alcohol and drugs, or seek short-term relationships.

You go through similar difficulties in your life (except without the paparazzi) — you’re on the go, and life can be filled with uncertainties. You may even feel alone in your personal battles. Plus, you still have to do your job and fulfill your duties at home… it’s hard work, especially if you’re alone.

Without a strong support system, it’s easy to gravitate towards quick fixes, short-term pleasures, and “solutions” that help you feel better for a few minutes or hours. It
becomes easy to fall prey to addictive bad habits, fueled by the desire to feel happier after a bad day.

You know in your heart that there are no “quick fixes” to all your problems. It just doesn’t work like that. Instead, find people who can support you — a family member, friend, colleague, or even an online community. And take the time to sit down and ask yourself: “What am I doing? Is this what I truly want?”

Can Stress Really Make Us Sick?

A businesswoman with a headache pressing her fingertips against her temples

What is health? A check-up with your doctor often focuses on making sure we are not sick – checking our blood pressure, cholesterol, pap smears and other general tests. These are all excellent things we must keep on top of, but they do not necessarily give a full picture of our “health”. You can have great check-up results but still be unhealthy. That is because health, or wholeness, is not just a physical concern. Health starts with something only we can do for ourselves – focusing on well-being, both mentally and emotionally. This in turn leads to promoting a healthy body.

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Doctors, herbs and medicines do not heal us. These options give our bodies the right building blocks to work with in order for our body to heal itself. When you cut your finger, for example, your body sends special substances called platelets to form a seal at that spot to protect the body from germs and bacteria. The hole eventually closes up like nothing ever happened. This kind of repair is happening at every minute of every day in our bodies by our immune system. We have cancer cells popping up daily, we are constantly bombarded by toxins in our food/air/water, and we are always exposed to bacteria and viruses. Yet most of us do not get sick from these things at the same rate we are exposed to them. Why is that? Because of a healthy immune system. It works on a minute to minute basis to keep our bodies in a constant state of healing.

“Feeling stressed,” however, makes the immune system unhealthy. Feeling stressed sets off a set of hormones and messenger chemicals that get the body ready for the “fight or flight” – the same system that goes into action when the body is in danger. Your blood pressure goes up, the heart pumps faster and the immune system shuts off. This system works great when there is real physical danger because you want to be using all your energy to get away or defend yourself. But it does not work well when it is always “on” due to feeling stressed – from bills, traffic, arguing with family, the boss at work and deadlines. You know the drill. This constant state of being stressed often leads to the common ailments we experience.

Here are just five common ways this happens:

1. Headaches

With stress, certain hormones set off a series of events in your brain that stimulates your nerves and causes your blood vessels to swell. In many people this is felt as tension headaches and migraines.

2. Stomach Upset/ Reflux/ Irritable Bowel Disease

Chronic stress, and its sister emotion anxiety, lead the body to make more stomach acid, which in turn leads to heartburn. The stomach also can take longer to empty food, which causes gas and bloating, and cause the intestines to contract more, leading to cramping and diarrhea.

3. Colds and Flu

Stress suppresses the immune system, making you susceptible to catching airborne illnesses. In a study at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, researchers surveyed volunteers about what was going on in their lives and then infected them with a cold virus. The men and women coping with stresses, ranging from a bad marriage to unemployment, were twice as likely to get sick as those with fewer problems.

4. Weight Gain

Under stress, the hormones adrenaline and cortisol are released. With chronic exposure, these stimulate hunger since your body assumes you will need energy to defend yourself. We often respond to this hunger by eating the items which will provide the quickest energy – fats and carbs. This of course leads to weight gain.

5. Neck and Back Pain

Stress triggers the nervous system to reduce blood flow to the muscles, which makes them prone to spasms. In addition, our posture when stressed tends to suffer since we tend to hunch over and tense the shoulder and neck muscles, making the muscle tension worse.