Heart racing, palms sweating, body feeling tense and jittery, ready to take on anything – no, we’re not talking about your daily dose of coffee. We’re talking about being stressed out!
Everyone experiences stress at some point in life, but did you know that chronic stress can do harm to your body? Read below to discover the 8 things that stress does to your body (and the 10 different ways you can combat it!).
Brain Pain – The brain is the place in which stress begins. When your body goes on high alert because of a real or perceived threat, your brain will begin the fight-or-flight alarm system in your body and begin to trigger certain hormones to be secreted in your body. Chronic stress doesn’t allow our fight-or-flight response to shut off, so hormonal levels will remain elevated, which potentially increases the risk for depression, hypertension, and possibly some types of cancer. Research also shows that major stresses can reduce the amount of tissue in regions of the brain that regulate emotions and self-control, making it harder to deal with any future stresses.
Upset Stomach – Stress gives roughly 25% of people upset stomachs, indigestion, and other gastrointestinal problems, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association. Prolonged anxiety slows down the digestion because the nervous system is busy giving its energy to the organs and muscles most critical for survival. This can cause a person to experience nausea, constipation, cramping, bloating, heartburn, stomach pains, and diarrhea.
Heartache – Chronic stress can definitely increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke. In fact, a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that drama with a spouse or close friend can increase your risk of heart problems by up to 34%.
Insomnia – Stress, especially chronic stress, can cause hyperarousal, a biological state in which people find it hard to feel sleepy. Major stressful events can especially cause a person to experience insomnia, which typically passes once the stressful event is over. Long-term exposure to chronic stress can also disrupt sleep and contribute to sleep disorders.
Memory Loss – Stress-prone people are about 40% more likely to develop mild cognitive impairments. High levels of stress hormones may damage or shrink the area in the brain responsible for long-term memory during acute stress, and the hormones can also interfere with neurotransmitters, making it hard for you to think straight and recall memories.
High Blood Pressure – Stressful times can raise your blood pressure temporarily, but these effects disappear as soon as the stress has left. While the relationship between chronic stress and blood pressure isn’t totally clear yet, it’s thought that chronic stress can cause more permanent changes in your blood pressure.
Fat Storage – Not sure why you’re struggling to lose those last 10 pounds? You could be stressed. Studies have shown that stress is linked to poor eating and that cortisol, the hormone that is present during stress, may increase the amount of fat tissue your body holds onto and enlarges the size of the fat cells.
Headaches – Suffering from headaches? Check the stress in your life. Adrenaline and cortisol are known to cause vascular changes, which will leave you with what’s called a tension headache. Sufferers from stress may even experience migraines.
While not all stress is bad, chronic stress can suppress your bodily functions, lower your immunity, and make your digestive, reproductive, and excretory systems stop working properly. Problems will begin to crop up if the stress goes on for too long.
But don’t worry – just combat stress and the effects it has on the body with these 10 tips!
*Seek proper health care for any existing or new health problems you may be experiencing.
*Set priorities and decide what must get done and what can wait. Learn to say “no” to any new tasks if they are putting you on overload.
*Keep in touch with others who can be an emotional support to you. Ask for help from your friends, family, or a religious organization to help reduce any major stress you’re experiencing.
*Get plenty of exercise – 30 minutes most days can do wonders to help boost your mood and reduce your stress levels.
*Try to remain positive about the situation. A positive attitude can be quite powerful in combating stress.
*Avoid dwelling on problems. Remember, worrying is like a rocking chair; it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere.
*Take note of what you’ve accomplished at the end of the day instead of what you were unable to do.
*Schedule regular times for healthy and relaxing activities that make you happy. Try meditation, yoga, or tai chi to help relax your body and alleviate stress.
*Eat healthy food and avoid processed foods and fast food. Be very mindful with what is fueling your body.
*Don’t be afraid to seek help from a qualified mental health care provider if you’re feeling overwhelmed with stress.
At Labtest Diagnostics, we take your health into utmost consideration. Stop by our location in St. Louis or one of our many locations nationwide to receive any assortment of tests to ensure that you are well! Visit us at www.dlabtest.com or call us at (314) 522-8378 to learn more!