Wednesday, September 28, 2022

How Stress Affects Your Health

And 10 Strategies To Help You De

How stress affects your health

By Gary Kim, MD, internal medicine physician at The Portland Clinic.

A little bit of stress in life is normal your body and brain are designed to handle it. But when stress wears on you continuously without letting up, it can overwhelm your ability to cope and can cause all kinds of problems, including:

  • Muscle tension, which can increase headache and arthritis pain
  • Upset stomach, diarrhea and acid reflux
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Weakened immune system, which leads to more colds and other illnesses
  • Worsening of most chronic medical conditions
  • Increased flare ups of eczema, psoriasis, acne and other skin conditions
  • Higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure
  • Self medication through alcohol or drug abuse
  • Over- or under-eating, contributing to obesity or malnutrition

According to WebMD, 75 to 90 percent of all doctors office visits are for stress-related problems. While your doctor is here to help, there are a lot of things you can do, as well, to reduce the toll of stress on your life. Here are 10 strategies to try:

1. Get physical

If you do nothing else, at least give exercise a try. It really does reduce stress, elevate mood and improve many stress-related problems. Start with a daily 10-minute walk, and build up to 30 minutes of any activity you enjoy.

2. Take a breather
3. Keep a stress diary
4. Learn the magic word
5. Stay connected
6. Schedule time to disconnect
7. Meditate
8. Do some lifestyle housecleaning
9. Sleep on it

Morbidity Mortality And Markers Of Disease Progression

Psychosocial intervention trials conducted upon patients following acute myocardial infarction have reported both positive and null results. Two meta-analyses have reported a reduction in both mortality and morbidity of approximately 20% to 40% . Most of these studies were carried out in men. The major study reporting positive results was the Recurrent Coronary Prevention Project , which employed group-based CBT, and decreased hostility and depressed affect , as well as the composite medical end point of cardiac death and nonfatal MI .

Q: What About Energy Levels

Dr. Sinha: Chronic stress can also make you tired. Your adrenal glands act like battery packs they provide energy-producing substances such as adrenaline on demand, a key part of the stress response. Unfortunately, many people overuse these limited battery reserves with endless work and personal demands, leaving them depleted. The result: fatigue.

Also Check: What Causes Stress And Anxiety

What You Can Do

Reducing your stress levels can not only make you feel better right now, but may also protect your health long-term.

In one study, researchers examined the association between positive affectfeelings like happiness, joy, contentment and enthusiasmand the development of coronary heart disease over a decade.6 They found that for every one-point increase in positive affect on a five-point scale, the rate of heart disease dropped by 22 percent.

While the study doesnt prove that increasing positive affect decreases cardiovascular risks, the researchers recommend boosting your positive affect by making a little time for enjoyable activities every day.

Other strategies for reducing stress include:

The American Psychological Associations Practice Directorate gratefully acknowledges the assistance of David S. Krantz, PhD, Beverly Thorn, PhD, and Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, in developing this fact sheet.

Ways To Relieve Stress

How Stress Affects the Body
  • Meditate for five minutes. It will help clear your mind so you can devote your full attention to the task at hand.
  • Take a break. When youre feeling overwhelmed, take a few moments for yourself even if its just to sit down, close your eyes and breathe deeply.
  • Get support from friends and family. Having someone to talk to about whats causing your stress can lighten the load. Ask a friend to go for a walk with you after work or invite someone over for dinner when you have time to chat.
  • Do something physical. A good workout can help ease tension by releasing endorphins, the bodys natural feel-good chemicals. Exercise also distracts you from stressful thoughts and provides an outlet for excess energy.
  • Practice self-care. Adopt healthy lifestyle habits such as getting quality sleep, eating a healthy diet, and moving your body every day.
  • Practice mindfulness. Living mindfully is an underappreciated way to manage stress. Take advantage of it and youll be rewarded with better mental health even in the face of stress.

Also Check: How To Become Less Stressed

Should I Get A Stress Test

A stress test doesnt measure the stress in your life, but it does measure the stress on your heart, or rather how hard your heart is working and what it looks like when youre walking very fast on a steep incline on a treadmill. People usually get a stress test when they have multiple risk factors for heart disease, or if theyve been having certain symptoms like chest pain or palpitations, says Haythe.

How Stress Affects Your Body And How To Fix It

, has spent decades performing studies at The Ohio State Universitys Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, unearthing a seemingly endless list of stresss imprints on the body.

Getting regular exercise, eating healthfully and getting plenty of sleep are important to preventing overwhelming stress.

If it seems unmanageable on your own, talk with your doctor about what youre feeling and how it affects you therapy or medication may be necessary to treat your stress and related emotional problems.

Research has shown that yoga and mindfulness meditation also are effective, natural methods to reduce stresss effects. Ohio State Integrative Medicine even offers free MP3 recordings that can help introduce you to mindfulness meditation and guide you in practice.Also important, Kiecolt-Glaser says, is avoiding isolation. This is especially true for women.One of the things thats most strongly linked to immune function is close personal relationships, she says.

Dont have a spouse, nearby family or a tight social circle? Make an effort to create new connections.Ive gotten into the habit of inviting people to lunch that I dont know well at all, but the worst they can say is no, she says. Take some risks, and reach out to people who look interesting.

Recommended Reading: How To Help Someone Who’s Stressed

The Effects Of Stress On Your Mood:

  • Anxiety
  • Social withdrawal
  • Exercising less often

The good news is that there is a lot you can do to reduce the impact of stress on your health. Weve gathered our best tips that you can read in the next article below. Also, if you notice some of the symptoms and would like to talk to a medical expert about it, please call us at 683-6370. The staff at Riverside Medical Clinic is happy to help you find relief!

How Does Stress Affect Health

How Job Stress Affects Your Health | WSJ

The human body is designed to experience stress and react to it. Stress can be positive — such as a getting a job promotion or being given greater responsibilities — keeping us alert and ready to avoid danger. Stress becomes negative when a person faces continuous challenges without relief or relaxation between challenges. As a result, the person becomes overworked and stress-related tension builds.

Distress can lead to physical symptoms including headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping. Research suggests that stress also can bring on or worsen certain symptoms or diseases.

Stress also becomes harmful when people use alcohol, tobacco, or drugs to try to relieve their stress. Unfortunately, instead of relieving the stress and returning the body to a relaxed state, these substances tend to keep the body in a stressed state and cause more problems. Consider the following:

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Heart Health Apps To Download Now

But even short-term stress can have a profound impact on your heart if its bad enough. The condition cardiomyopathy, also known as broken-heart syndrome, is a weakening of the heart’s left ventricle that usually results from severe emotional or physical stress.

Although the condition is in general rare, 90 percent of cases are in women.

Cardiomyopathy can occur in very stressful situations, such as after a huge fight, the death of a child, or other major triggers, Dr. Haythe says. Patients come into the emergency room with severe chest pain and other symptoms of what we call acute heart failure syndrome, though their coronary arteries are clear. They can be very sick, but with treatment, most of the time, people recover.

Q: Does Stress Make You Age Faster

Dr. Sinha: As if heart disease, brain fog, lack of sleep and fatigue arent enough, chronic stress can also cause you to age more quickly than normal.

One study compared a group of women caring for disabled children with a group of women whose children had no disabilities. In particular, the researchers compared their telomeres, protective sections of DNA that are known to be a genetic marker for aging. Telomeres routinely wither and get shorter with time, but external factors, including stress, can accelerate this process.

The study found more prominent premature aging in the high-stress mothers caring for disabled children. In fact, it translated into that group being 10 years older at a cellular level than the other group, who were the same chronological age. The 35-year-old stressed mothers looked closer to 45.

Bottom line? Keep an eye on how stressed you are and what you can do about it. Your body will thank you.

Recommended Reading: How Do You Control Stress

Signs And Symptoms Of Stress Overload

The most dangerous thing about stress is how easily it can creep up on you. You get used to it. It starts to feel familiar, even normal. You dont notice how much its affecting you, even as it takes a heavy toll. Thats why its important to be aware of the common warning signs and symptoms of stress overload.

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Other mental or emotional health problems

Physical symptoms:

  • Chest pain, rapid heart rate
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
  • Nervous habits

How Does Stress Affect Your Mental Health

This is how stress affects our bodies, especially out gut ...

Most of us feel stress at some point in our lives. In fact, a recent Gallup poll found as many as 80% of men and women reported feeling stressed out sometimes or frequently during the daily grind.

Today, stress levels are higher than ever. All that stress takes a major toll on physical health, and it can cause some major problems with your mental health, too. At Wellness Nashville in Franklin, Tennessee, we help our patients relieve stress naturally, so they can improve both their physical health and their emotional well-being.

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Dont Let Stress Impact Your Health

If you have experienced one or more effects above, we invite you to take

our health risk assessment. Our health risk assessment uses identifiable health information to help you determine your risk factors for chronic illnesses and what preventive health screenings can enable you to learn if you are at risk for vascular disease, peripheral arterial disease, and other chronic illnesses.

How To Reduce Stress Levels

Some of the stressors in our lives are things that we can take some practical control over some of them are not. When we cant take away the thing thats causing us stress, we need to find ways of responding to that stress without becoming unwell. Some good ways to reduce stress can include:

Sleep wellGetting enough sleep and sticking to regular hours can make a huge difference to how well we cope with everyday stress. Remember that stimulants like late-night screen time, alcohol, big meals and nicotine can stop us getting to sleep. Caffeine can still affect us around 6 hours after drinking it, so cut out the coffee early in the afternoon.

Stay in touchEven when you dont feel like it, trying to maintain your social life is important. It might even help to talk to friends and family about whats going on in your life, but if youre not comfortable with that, just socialising with them can help you feel more positive.

Eat wellOne of the best things we can do for our physical and mental health is to eat a healthy diet. This means lots of fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, and lean proteins.

MeditateBreathing exercises and mindfulness techniques have become popular stress-management strategies over the last few years, and theyre supported by good clinical evidence.

Get outsideEven a little bit of time outdoors can energise us, help us maintain a good sleep pattern, and improve our mental and physical health. Exercise is particularly good for stress relief.

Reviewed by:

Read Also: How Does Laughter Reduce Stress

What Influences Our Capacity For Coping With Stress

Several factors influence our capacity for coping with stress:

  • The presence of a social network
  • Our skill and confidence in assessing a complex situation and then developing and evaluating solutions
  • Personal variables such as physical health, experience, confidence, anxiety threshold and problem-solving abilities .

Stressful events are a universal part of the human experience. You may or may not be able to change your current situation, but you can take steps to manage the impact these events have on you.

Link Between Stress & Mental Health

How stress affects your body – Sharon Horesh Bergquist

Although many studies have shown a link between stress and mental health problems, the reason behind this connection has remained unclear. Recent research from the University of California, Berkeley, has discovered new insight into why stress can be so detrimental to a persons psyche.

Previous research has found physical differences in the brains of people with stress disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder , and those without. One of the main distinctions is that the ratio of the brains white matter to gray matter is higher in those with stress-related mental disorders compared to those without.

People who experience chronic stress have more white matter in some areas of the brain. The UC Berkeley study wanted to find out the underlying reason for this alteration in the brain composition.

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What Is Stress A Sign Of

This is your bodys natural reaction to any stimulus or change in your environment. Even just thinking about something can cause you to feel stressed. The body reacts emotionally, physically, and mentally to these changes in varying degrees.

However, it can also be positive. Sometimes good things will happen to us such as promotions, marriage, winning a contest or money, which all cause a different type of stress. These types of stress are known as acute stress. As mentioned earlier, it is a natural reaction but if it is not managed properly it can develop into chronic stress. It is important to have good coping techniques to reduce the impact of it on your body and your emotional health.

The Difference Between Good And Bad Stress

It comes in different flavors and can be good or bad. Most of us are familiar with what bad stressors are. These are the negative events in our life that we would like to avoid if possible. Good stressors can include things like marriage, births, promotions, or just genuine good fortune.

Bad stress usually triggers some sort of fear and activates our fight or flight response. This is what causes the symptoms of acute stress. However, it can make us feel excited and happy and is referred to psychologists as eustress. With good stress, your heart rate still quickens and there is a change in hormones.

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What Are The Signs Of Stress

How you might feel

If the stress is long-lasting, you may notice your sleep and memory are affected, your eating habits change, or you feel less inclined to exercise.

Some research has also linked long-term stress to gastrointestinal conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome or stomach ulcers, as well as conditions like cardiovascular disease.

Stress And The Function Of The Cardiovascular System

How Stress Affects Your Health

The existence of a positive association between stress and cardiovascular disease has been verified . Stress, whether acute or chronic, has a deleterious effect on the function of the cardiovascular system . The effects of stress on the cardiovascular system are not only stimulatory, but also inhibitory in nature . It can be postulated that stress causes autonomic nervous system activation and indirectly affects the function of the cardiovascular system . If these effects occur upon activation of the sympathetic nervous system, then it mainly results in an increase in heart rate, strength of contraction, vasodilation in the arteries of skeletal muscles, a narrowing of the veins, contraction of the arteries in the spleen and kidneys, and decreased sodium excretion by the kidneys . Sometimes, stress activates the parasympathetic nervous system . Specifically, if it leads to stimulation of the limbic system, it results in a decrease, or even a total stopping of the heart-beat, decreased contractility, reduction in the guidance of impulses by the heart stimulus-transmission network, peripheral vasodilatation, and a decline in blood pressure . Finally, stress can modulate vascular endothelial cell function and increase the risk of thrombosis and ischemia, as well as increase platelet aggregation .

Also Check: What Is The Best Medicine For Stress

Tips To Help Control Stress

  • Mental health counseling or other social support. Feeling alone can add to stress. It can help to talk through feelings and concerns with a trusted individual. Often, just realizing that you are not alone and that your feelings are not unusual can help lower stress.
  • Practicing work-life balance. Use vacation and personal time, or just set aside an hour a day. A periodic escape from the pressures of work can do wonders to reduce stress, increase productivity, and decrease the risk of physical and mental illnesses that are associated with workplace burnout.
  • Schedule fun activities or hobbies at least once a week. Gardening, reading, enjoying music, getting a massage, hiking in nature, and cooking a favorite recipe are examples of welcome stress relievers.
  • Good sleep hygiene. Stress can cause a heightened sense of alertness, which delays the onset of sleep as well as cause interrupted sleep throughout the night. This can prevent one from entering the deeper sleep stages in which the body repairs and grows tissue and supports a healthy immune system. The REM sleep stage in particular helps with mood regulation and memory. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep a night by slowing down about 30 minutes before bedtime. Controlling stress through the other tips listed above can also improve sleep quality.
  • Gonzalez MJ, Miranda-Massari JR. Diet and stress. Psychiatric Clinics. 2014 Dec 1 37:579-89.
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