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Stressed Out Computer

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Staff Member
Stressed Out Computer - March 15, 2006

My daughter's laptop had locked up. It could be turned on, but froze up soon after that. She was frantic. Inside were thirteen chapters of a novel she hadn't printed yet.

In the three weeks that elapsed between when she first called the Geek Squad (computer fixers) and when a technician was actually able to come and take a look at it, it had regained some of its energy and could briefly start up again. The guy said it had probably been stressed out. "The rest probably did it good. Its systems were overtaxed."

Who knew that even the trusty computer needed a break?
Long term, she needed to do some things to prevent the problem in the future, such as removing some of the unneeded programs. She needed to keep the thing cooler, either by using a little fan device, or providing ventilation between the bottom of the laptop and the desk. She needed to give it more memory and power. She needed to back up her critical files every day.

The human parallels are obvious. If the venerable computer needs to take a break, how much more so is this need in humans? The Geek guy warned her that she had probably shortened the computer's life by overtaxing it so much. It may only have a year to live.

Stress can also shorten the lives of humans. It depends on how we handle the stress, and whether we give ourselves a chance to relax afterward.

An inch-thick laptop computer is capable of processing an awful lot of x's and o's (the basic language/structure of computer thinking), and these days does so in pretty fancy formats. Lest you think her laptop was a lemon, she had recently acquired a digital camera and of course had loaded the laptop with too many memory-hogging photos. Add to that, music. Then there was a budding novel of an million words or so.

So it is with the human psyche and brain. We can talk on the phone, type, eat, instant message a half dozen friends at once, and cook two pots on the stove for supper, all more or less at the same time. We can get up at 3:45 a.m. and work on a concrete floor to ship 1000 parts out of a warehouse for ten hours. But we can't keep doing that seven days a week, 24 hours a day. We've got to have rest. We can say yes to being on every committee for church, work or club activities, but then we tend to snap at our kids, friends, and the dog. In time, we burn out, like my daughter's computer almost did.

What are some of the human effects of stress?

The WebMD says that stress without relief leads to disturbances in the body's internal balance or equilibrium; physical symptoms can include headaches, upset stomach, high blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping. "Research suggests that stress also can bring on or worsen certain symptoms or disease," says Jerome F. Kiffer of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. "Stress is linked to six of the leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide." (www.webmd.com)

This information has been around for a long time, but I was interested in more recent information regarding the link between stress and coritsol. Experts say that the production of cortisol is a natural response to stress, but you want your body then to relax so that levels can return to normal. For those who operate continuously under stress, cortisol can have these negative effects: thinking can be impaired; thyroid function is suppressed, blood sugar gets out of balance, blood pressure goes up, lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body, and "an increase in abdominal fat, which is associated with a greater amount of health problems than fat deposited in other areas of the body. Some of the health problems associated with increased stomach fat are heart attacks, strokes, the development of, higher levels of 'bad' cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of 'good' cholesterol." (www.about.com)

I have two of the above physical symptoms (headaches and problems sleeping) so it's not that I have conquered stress, but I'm working on it. The good Lord wants us to take care of the bodies given to us.

Contributed by Melodie Davis

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