Colds & Shingles & Thumbs…Oh My!!!

Tonight my best friend called me to regale me with a tale that had her wigging out! She had gone to get her nails done at  the same salon that she has gone to for the past 2 years. On this day, however, she realized that the salon had all new employees. She decided to get her nails done anyway and sat down to enjoy a relaxing manicure. Relaxing until she looked down and noticed that her nail technician had an extra thumb! Yes, that is right…4 fingers and 2 thumbs…on 1 hand! She FREAKED! Not out loud, mind you, but oh if you could have heard what was going on in her head! Now my best friend felt bad about the reaction she had in her head because she is a smart, compassionate, loving, wonderful person who knows that people come in all different (and beautiful) colors, shapes, and sizes. She was embarrassed, but I assured her that she was not a horrible person…it just caught her off guard…it happens. The thing is, I think that her reaction stemmed from something much more pressing…STRESS!


You see, for the past few weeks, my best friend has been telling me about some issues that she has been dealing with. She’s been really tired and lethargic. She’s been fighting a cold that won’t go away and feeling down and depressed and she’s developed a nervous scratching habit. Her skin is not irritated…she’s just scratching….for no apparent reason.  So, when she saw the extra thumb it was just too much for her…she flipped! All of these, including the nervous tic, are signs of stress. Now we all know that a little stress is good for you. In small doses, stress can help you perform better under pressure and give you the motivation to do your best. However, the majority of us take stress to an extreme…and this kind of chronic stress is not only unhealthy for you…it can kill.

Now I, unfortunately, am no stranger to stress. A little story about me: a few years ago, I was a flight attendant working for a pretty well known airline and I was on reserve (meaning I was on call and, therefore, could not make plans and had no life). One night, as I was preparing for my 3 whole hours of sleep in a crusty hotel room, on what was my third night of a five day trip, I noticed that I had a little bump on the middle of my back right underneath my bra strap. Thinking nothing of it, I climbed into bed (trying desperately not to think of those Dateline specials where they use black lights to discover a whole lot of nastiness) and went to sleep. The next morning, as I was showering, I noticed that the bump was itching a little and that it had actually gotten a little bigger. Upon closer inspection, I found that it wasn’t just one bump, but a little cluster of bumps! By the end of the trip, the cluster had spread to the size of a quarter and I knew that I needed to go see a doctor. I was terrified! I just knew that I had caught some crazy disease someone had left on those nasty hotel bedsheets (drama queen)! It turns out that I had shingles. Now, shingles is basically the adult form of chickenpox. The virus that causes chickenpox lies dormant in your system and, in most people, remains dormant. However, in some people, the virus can become active again in people who have weakened immune systems due to stress, injury, certain medicines etc.  I was confused! First, I had no idea what shingles was or how I caught it. But when my doctor told me that I hadn’t caught it, but rather developed it because of stress, I was floored! “But, I’m not stressed!”, I told her. Her response,  “You may not think or feel as if you are stressed, but your body is stressed!”

WAKE UP CALL! I had no idea that I could be stressed out and not even know it! I mean there was nothing weighing particularly heavy on my mind, no crisis needed attending to…I felt fine! Then it hit me! You know the stress has gotten to a critical level when you are so accustomed to the feeling of stress that it feels normal to you. When you don’t actually remember what it feels like to not be stressed, things have got to change! So what do you do?

Well, the first thing you have to do is recognize if you are, in fact, stressed. Here are some of the warning signs and symptoms of stress:

  • Memory problems
  • Constant worrying
  • Moodiness
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Depression
  • Aches and pains
  • Nausea
  • Frequent Colds
  • Eating more or less
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing, (scratching lol))

These are just a few of many symptoms, but if you exhibit any of these you have got to nip it in the bud before the stress causes major problems such as heart disease, obesity, digestive ailments, autoimmune diseases, sleep problems, and skin conditions such as eczema. By now your probably thinking, “Ok, I get it! I’m stressed! So what do I do about it?”

PICT0011Well, lucky for you, there are many things that we can do on a daily basis to help alleviate stress! One of the best things we can do is to eat a healthy diet. Getting the proper nutrition can definitely help in dealing with everyday stress. For some good ideas and tips on healthy eating check out this site. Also, you need to exercise! Exercising releases endorphins (feel good hormones) in the body. So, if you are having a particularly rough day, hit the gym…take a walk outside…get your significant other to join you in some extracurricular activities (tee hee ;-P). Bottom line, get MOVING! Finally, learn how to not take yourself so seriously! Life is what you make it! It should be fun! Learn how to laugh at yourself and, I guarantee, you will feel that stress melting away in no time!

Glitter Text Generator

Today I am thankful for the extra thumb that was responsible for the wigging out that inspired this post! Now everybody relax, relate, release!


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Destiny
    Jun 01, 2009 @ 12:06:54

    Love it! Thanks Mel for doing this. I really hope this gets people to realize how stress can affect their body and do what is needed to help relieve the stress. After reading the symptoms I knew that my scratching was a little weird or out of place. Thanks again…Now I have to go scratch 🙂


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