Between your daily life and the chaos on the news, it is probably safe to say that many people are feeling the effects of stress. Stress can be due to good reasons in that weddings, new babies, family gatherings, traveling, and such are often fun, festive affairs however they still cause stress and wear the body down. On the flip side, we find ourselves often eating too much, staying up too late, spending too much, not prioritizing exercise, dealing with drama, while trying to organize and multi-task.
Is it worth it?
Here are 3 reasons stress is the most dangerous toxin in your life!
1. Stress can affect your heart health. The American Heart Association reports that stress affects lifestyle factors and behaviors that can lead to heart disease such as smoking, drinking in excess, over consumption of food, and stopping exercise due to lack of time. These can all be detrimental to the heart through an increase in blood pressure and cholesterol. In addition, it is well known that the most common time to have a heart attack is Monday morning however research shows that those who have an cardiovascular event between 6am and noon suffer the worst consequences as they have a much larger infarct area, or area of dead tissue due to lack of blood supply, in the heart. A commonly suggested theory is that people are more stressed Monday morning after the weekend or are more stressed heading to work (or starting their day) in general.
2. Stress alters the immune system for the worse. How many know of someone who have had a terribly stressful event happen in their life and then go on to develop a chronic condition, autoimmune disease or cancer? Stress can lower or suppress the immune system response in the body resulting in more illness and slower recovery or inability to recover at all. Chronic stress can have the same effect therefore it is important to think about all areas of someone’s life including their job, their family, their marriage, their friendships, their lifestyle, their hobbies, and their mental/emotional state.
3. Stress basically affects everything. Chronic long-term stress can increase inflammation, worsen joint pain, create headaches, cause someone to develop ulcers, affect digestion (including gas, bloating, constipation, heart burn, and diarrhea), interfere with sexual function and fertility, worsen depression, stimulate anxiety, cause sleepless nights and more.
Stress is everywhere and while there is very little chance to avoid it, there are plenty of ways to manage it. First, talking with a trusted health care provider or counselor is a good first step. Second, recognize the most stressful things that are contributing to your life and work to reduce or eliminate them as best you can. Third, focus on you by way of meditation, healthy eating, plenty of water, relaxing baths, monthly massages, a good book, or whatever it takes to help reduce those stress hormones. Finally, focus on what you can improve. The only absolutes in life are death and taxes therefore work to make choices that help your long term health and let go of the rest.
1. American Heart Association. (2014). Stress and Heart Health. Retrieved from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/MyHeartandStrokeNews/Stress-and-Heart-Health_UCM_437370_Article.jsp#.VmELNXlzOM8
2. Cohen, S., Janicki-Deverts, D., Doyle, W., Miller, G., Frank, E., Rabin, B, and Turner R. (2011). Chronic Stress, glucocorticoid receptor resistance, inflammation and disease risk. Retrieved from http://www.pnas.org/content/109/16/5995.abstract
3. Reiche, E., Nunes, S., and Morimoto, H. (2004). Stress, depression, the immune system and cancer. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15465465
4. Segerstrom, S. and Miller, G. (2004). Psychological stress and the human immune system: A meta-analytic study of 30 years of inquiry. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1361287/
5. Suarex-Barrientos, A., Lopez-Romero, P., Vivas, D., Castro-Ferreira, F., Nunez-Gil, I., Franco, E., Ruiz-Mateos, B., Garcia-Rubira, JC., Fernandez-Ortiz, A., Macaya, C., and Ibanez, B. (2011). Circadian variations of infarct size in acute myocardial infarction. Retrieved by http://heart.bmj.com/content/97/12/970?cited-by=yes