There are two types of stress: temporary (acute) and long-term (chronic). In most cases, acute stress won’t mess with your health too much. This occurs when your body naturally reacts to some sort of stressor, a threatening circumstance like running from a bear or pulling your kid away as she is just about to touch a hot stove. Acute stress can often be life-saving. But it’s temporary. Once the event is over, it goes away. Chronic stress, when stress reactions are triggered every day or many times a day, can have a hugely negative impact on your body and ultimately contribute to the decline of your health. Read on to find out how stress effects your health and what you can do to reverse those effects, so that you can find success with your health and fitness goals.
Negative Effects of Stress
There are four main ways that stress negatively affects your health.
- Increased risk of heart disease and diabetes – it promotes chronic inflammation, affecting your blood “thickness,” as well as how well your cells respond to insulin.
- Decreased immunity – Did you notice that you get sick more often when you’re stressed? That can include colds, cold sores, or even the flu. That’s because stress hormones affect the chemical messengers (cytokines) secreted by immune cells consequently, they are less able to do their jobs effectively.
- Leaky Gut – Stress creates a situation known as “intestinal permeability,” when the stress hormone cortisol can opens up tiny holes in your intestines by loosening the grip your digestive cells have to each other. This causes leaks that allow partially digested food, bacteria or other things to be absorbed into your body.
- Sleep disruption – Stress and sleep go hand-in-hand. It’s often difficult to sleep when you have very important, nagging thoughts of to-do’s and worries, etc. When you don’t get enough sleep, your energy level decreases, your memory suffers, your thought processes become foggy, and your mood becomes sour.
If you’re constantly stressed, you’ve likely experienced one or more of these effects. If so, it’s time to nip this in the bud before it gets worst.
There are two simple ways main ways you can reduce stress in your life.
1. Change your mindset.
Changing the way you think about the situations and events that cause you stress in your life can help you set boundaries with yourself and others. We often think that what happens in our lives is beyond our control, but in most cases, we are capable of flipping the switch simply by shifting our approach. Try one of the following:
- Put less pressure on yourself
- Ask for help
- Say “no”
- Delegate to someone else
- Finally, make that decision
2. Incorporate self-care practices in your daily or weekly routine.
Sometimes all you need to de-stress is to take your mind off of life’s responsibilities to spend a few minutes or a few hours doing something for yourself. A few things you can try are:
- Deep breathing
- Walk in nature
- Unplug (read a book, take a bath)
- A Quick Workout(yoga, tai chi, etc.)
- Connect with loved ones
As you can see, stress is a huge and often underappreciated factor in our health and wellness. It can impact your physical body much more than you might realize. But far from letting it weigh you down, there are things you can do to both reduce stressors and improve your response to it. Try one or two of the techniques above, then share your experience in the comments below!
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