Week of:
Oct 21, 2011

Smoking for stress relief

Dear Alice,

I smoke. I don't like it at all but it's the only way I know to relieve stress. It makes me dizzy and nauseous. I tried quitting but I have reached a point in my life where I am overwhelmed by stress and cannot take out the time to exercise or sleep my stress away. I can feel the cigarettes altering my health. Please, aside from telling me to quit, can't you offer some kind of advice?

— Nico

Can stress from school cause nausea and stomachaches?

Hi Alice,

I'm a student in the midst of midterms and all that, so I've been really busy and not taking as good care of myself as usual (though trying my best), though I wouldn't say that I've been any more stressed than your average student. My question has to do with nausea though: I've been waking up lately and my stomach hurts and I don't know why. I can't think of any medical/strictly physiological reason why, so I was wondering: is it possible that this is stress related? (Can stress/anxiety make one sick with a knot in their stomach??) This has only happened a few times, recently, all during this midterm/work craziness.

Thanks,
Sick from Stress???

Stress is a pain in the neck — literally!

Alice,

When I worry/stress out, I find the muscles on one side of my neck (usually the right side) begin to tighten up to the point of acute pain. On occasion, the pain reaches from the back of my ear, down my neck (the most painful point), through my shoulder, down the arm, and in extreme cases to the tips of my fingers. Two questions:

1. How do I stop this?
2. How do I relieve the pain when it occurs?

I'm currently suffering from one of these neck aches, and can't turn my head, so I'd really appreciate your response.

Thanks from,
A Pain in the Neck

Stress, anxiety, and learning to cope

Dear Alice,

I am a graduate student, doing very well in my coursework and research. However, I feel extreme anxiety in doing anything, e.g., starting a problem set, writing a program, etc. I wonder, what are the common causes of anxiety and what I may be suffering from. I would like to be calm and relaxed and not anxious and stressed. I know about meditations, etc., but what I would really like is some psychological insight.

Thanks,
Anxiously Awaiting