Stress…we all feel it and know what it means but do we know what it can do to us from the inside? Studies are now showing that by not taking care of your stress it can lead to some serious health issues. Your stress can lead to a poor immune system which puts you at risk for catching and difficulty recovering from bacterial/viral infections. For those of you who got the flu shot, stress can prevent your immune system from properly responding to the vaccine making you still susceptible to catching the flu. Unmanaged stress can also put you at risk for elevated blood pressure which can then lead to heart problems later on if it goes untreated. So, you are probably thinking “how do I eliminate my stress for good?” Well the truth is, you can’t, because it is a part of life. If not regulated, stress can negatively impact your health. You most likely have already dealt with your stress in an unhealthy way. Here is a list of healthy ways to deal with your stress:
- Get up and move- whether it is to the gym for a hard core workout, dancing to your favorite song, or going on a casual walk. Moving around in anyway stimulates your body to release endorphins which makes us feel good and lower our stress.
- Connecting with friends and family- talking about what makes us stress, whether it can be resolved or not, can decrease the tension. If talking to friends or family are not enough maybe getting professional help may do the trick.
- Avoid unnecessary stress- we sometimes put ourselves into situations that bring on more stress that could have been easily prevented:
* Avoid people who stress you out-this is not always realistic especially if the person is your boss or a family member. Try to limit how many times you interact with them and make those interactions short and sweet.
* Saying “No” is okay- Know your limits with taking on responsibilities in the work field and at home. When possible divide the work load.
- Have fun and relax! Everyday plan an activity for yourself such as a nice bubble bath, reading a book, or go fishing. Also plan something fun for the weekend whether it is going out to eat, getting a massage, or going to the movies. You can also find out what is free in your community if you don’t like spending.
- Avoid the unhealthy choices when dealing with your stress such as:
* binging on junk food (usually full of carbs and sugar)
* sleeping too much
* taking stress out/withdrawing from others, etc.
* consuming too much alcohol or caffeinated beverages.
So now you have been educated on what stress can do to your body and ways to manage it. For more information and additional ways to manage your stress visit Anxiety and Depression Association of America and click on Stress/Anxiety under Understand the Facts and Live and Thrive tabs.
1. Slowing of wound healing by psychological stress.Prof J.K. Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD , a, P.T. Marucha, PhD b, A.M. Mercado, DMD b, Prof W.B. Malarkey, MD c, Prof R. Glaser, PhD c. Published: 1995 by Elsevier Ltd.
Available online 30 September 2003
2. Hemodynamic and Autonomic Adjustments to Real Life Stress Conditions in Humans. Daniela Lucini, Guido Norbiato, Mario Clerici and Massimo Pagani. Published: January 1, 2002. https://dx.doi.org/10.1161/hy0102.100784
3. Chronic stress and age-related increases in the proinflammatory cytokine IL-6. Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser*†‡, Kristopher J. Preacher§, Robert C. MacCallum, Cathie Atkinson*, William B. Malarkey†∥, and Ronald Glaser. Edited by Burton H. Singer, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ (received for review April 2, 2003)
4. Chronic stress alters the immune response to influenza virus vaccine in older adults. JANICE K. KIECOLT-GLASER*, RONALD GLASERt$§, STEFAN GRAVENSTEIN, WILLIAM B. MALARKEYt, AND JOHN SHERIDANII. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the USA Vol. 93, pp. 3043-3047, April 1996 Medical Sciences.