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News Flash: Stress Can Be Detrimental to Your Health

And other scientific studies that make you say ‘Duh!’

Photo collage/illustration created by Author. (Chicken image by jnprice73 from Pixabay, toothless woman image by abadonian from Getty Images, hatted woman image by nd3000 from Getty Images Pro, and woman behind foliage image by Paulo Bert from Pexels)

The results of a study were released today and the findings seem to be solid: “Higher stress levels raise blood pressure, risk of heart attack, and stroke.” Now, if you’re like me (old, medicated and stressed), I know what you’re saying, “NO S@*$, SHERLOCK! Imagine that. Stress causes health problems! Yikes! Who knew?”

Some scientific studies seem to find obvious conclusions. (Do you find that many of these are funded/sponsored by the government? So do I!) Here are a few examples:

  • People who suffer from traumatic brain injury have more frequent headaches than the general population
  • Study shows beneficial effect of electric fans in extreme heat and humidity
  • Quitting smoking after heart attack greatly reduces chest pain and increases quality of life
  • Scientists discover several differences between the sexes
  • Psychologists find that people leaning to the left perceive the Eiffel Tower as shorter
  • Scientists discover it is just as easy to swim in syrup as it is in water
  • The higher the blood alcohol content of people, the higher they rate themselves as attractive
  • Cows given realistic human names produce more milk than cows without names

And on and on.

Again, looking at these conclusions, it’s easy to say “DUH!” (Or ask “Who paid for this crazy study?”) No Nobel Prize winners getting an all-expense paid trip to Stockholm in this bunch.

I especially like the one about swimming in syrup vs. water. Who in the world swims in syrup? Not to stereotype, but is this a Vermont thing? You know, the state preparing for a potential maple syrup catastrophe?

These beg the question ‘why?’

Anyway, some of these studies seem too obvious and/or without merit. Did you hear of the study that showed chickens prefer beautiful people? (Apparently, when given a choice between photos of someone considered “beautiful” vs. someone considered “plain” or “ugly,” the chickens would nearly always peck the photo of the “beautiful” person.)

I am not making this up. Besides, couldn’t you conclude the chickens were jealous of the “beautiful” people or didn’t like them? I mean, they pecked the photo. They didn’t pick the photo to hang near their nest in the chicken coop. Anyway, goofy stuff.

One of my favorite studies involves the “Infinite Monkey Theorem.” According to the laws of probability, if an infinitely large group of monkeys is given an infinite number of typewriters and infinite time, eventually they’ll create the entire works of Shakespeare. This is known as the Infinite Monkey Theorem.

Some scientists actually decided to try this, but without having a real grasp of the term “infinite.” Their study only included six male Rhesus monkeys. Their initial findings involved smashed typewriters covered with monkey feces (c’mon, what did they expect?), but eventually, the monkeys got the hang of it and produced several pages of the letter “S” — over and over and over.

So, the scientists postulated (from this small sample) that, if they had an infinite number of monkeys (exactly how many is that, anyway?), the critters could at least pound out a cheap romance novel, if not Romeo and Juliet. Or maybe 50 Shades of Chimps or something. Anyway…

There ARE a lot of very bizarre studies out there, and many of them “show the obvious” (at least, to us — maybe not to the scientists? Nerds aren’t always self-aware, I know. I am one). But where you and I consider things to be obvious and predetermined, others may need proof or more information. They need to “know the science” and see facts behind the reasoning.

And that’s okay — even if it does involve spending some money that you and I figure could be spent better elsewhere. (Well, sometimes it’s okay, sometimes it’s a downright loony.)

Let me stress this

But let me return to the study I mentioned at the start of this post: higher stress levels cause health issues. The study emphasizes the “cause and effect” of stress on our bodies and the “fight or flight” reaction that comes into play with stress. In particular, stress CAUSES something — and we all react to stress differently with different results.

A lot of scientific studies suggest that stress raises blood pressure, causes insomnia, results in digestive problems — and on and on. (Hence, my “DUH!” or, less polite reference to Sherlock.) The long-term effects of stress on the human body are still being studied so we can understand how stress affects human lifespan.

Certainly, STRESS is something we need to understand, and study. I was speaking to an entrepreneur this week who indicated the stress she suffered due to the pandemic, wearing a mask, knowing who was/wasn’t vaccinated, being asked to go to a convention (with over 1,000 people in attendance), and having to talk to customers (in person versus online).

“My stress levels are 100 times what they were compared to a year ago,” she told me.

That’s significant — and dangerous (well, certainly if you believe the study I mentioned at the beginning). Stress IS a “killer.” It’s important to recognize sources of stress and to develop mechanisms of coping with stress.

I believe this is especially significant for entrepreneurs, who are often on their own (or feel like they are on their own) with their idea, their business and their dreams. It’s important NOT to be alone — instead to be a part of a greater group or organization that can assist you, a group or organization or program that can network you with other entrepreneurs who are either having similar struggles or to those experienced individuals who have “been there, done that” and could provide some depth of experience to what you are dealing with.

Business incubators, accelerators, the U.S. Small Business Development Corporation offices, SCORE — many groups and organizations can provide support, advisement and introductions to funding sources. They can connect you with experienced mentors and educational programs on how to deal with problems, issues and stress.

I’ve talked to many entrepreneurs who have developed ways to cope with stress, entrepreneurs who understand the need to relax and to pursue healthy ways to walk away from the stress of the everyday grind.

Don’t go it alone

It IS a scientific fact that stress is harmful to our health. Don’t go it alone and don’t tell yourself, “Oh, I can deal with it” or “Only weak people look for stress relief.”

“I feed on stress,” one individual told me. “I get better when I’m stressed, and I get more work done.” But after his first heart attack, he developed a different outlook on the rigors of stress, trust me.

We all develop different mechanisms or methods of dealing with stress, and that’s expected. We are not the same, our situations are not the same, and we all have to find our own way. However, it’s important to recognize when we’re stressed out or pressured beyond the normal everyday demands of life. We must understand when we need to find relief and/or get help.

Get the right support. Take up meditation, mindfulness, yoga, reading, sports — whatever you like — to help you deal with the stress of being an entrepreneur and to get away from the grind. Don’t hold in the fear that by taking time away, by walking away from the situation, that your business will fall behind. It won’t.

Your business needs YOU to be in top form — not stressed out! Believe the higher stress levels study! If you won’t, I might have to bring up the results for the study on the velocity of penguin poop. Trust me, you don’t want to know!

(Who pays for this stuff?)

Mark S Long has long experienced the intricacies of business incubation, acceleration, coworking spaces, makerspaces and other entrepreneurial assistance venues. UF Innovate supports an innovation ecosystem that moves research discoveries from the lab to the market, making the world a better place.

Originally published at http://incubatorblogger.wordpress.com on September 28, 2021.

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