Stress is a part of every person’s life, whether we ask for it or not. We each have varying levels of stress at any point in our lives. While some stress may be good for us, such as the body’s survival instinct warning us of danger, severe or constant stress can have a significant impact on the body. April is National Stress Awareness Month, so there is no better time to learn about the ways stress affects us and how to manage it when it comes knocking at our door.
You may have experienced a tension headache or even a migraine. It can often be caused by stress. It’s believed to have been due to fluctuating hormone levels.
Poor Eating Habits
You may have heard the term “stress eating.” Maybe you had a bad day and came home only wanting pizza and ice cream for dinner. In fact, an additional side effect of stress is weight gain and it’s no wonder. High cortisol levels are due to stress and increase the desire to overeat – specifically, fattening foods.
Stress is an aggravator of inflammation. If you already have a skin condition such as psoriasis or eczema, stress will worsen the symptoms. When you are stressed, the immune system is triggered and sends out chemicals that cause inflammation. It is your body’s way of trying to fight off a threat whether it’s a rational one or not.
Anxiety is a reaction to stress and can increase blood pressure. Over time, chronic stress and anxiety can have a significant negative impact on the heart.
When you are sick, you are most susceptible to illnesses. Stress suppresses the immune system. Maybe you know someone who is often stressed and noticed that they are also often sick. There’s a reason for this and it’s because the body is focusing on fighting off the threat of stress, so it doesn’t focus on any viruses invading your system.
Back pain may be caused by a variety of events. Stress is often one of them. The next time you’re stressed, pay attention to your muscles. You will notice a tightening in the muscles along the shoulders and all the way down the spine. This constant tension will lead to back pain.
Tips to reduce stress
A little stress is inevitable, but some steps you can start taking to eliminate it are:
- Relaxation and Meditation: Practice self-care by adopting deep breathing techniques. Take time each day to rest and simply do nothing. It’s great for the mind to recharge.
- Awareness: Pay attention to the things that trigger your stress. If there is a way to avoid consistent stress, seek out a solution.
- Exercise: Stress is a fight or flight response. Trick your body by giving it the flight it wants. Getting the body moving with exercise will increase your heart rate and will help to reduce your feelings of stress.
Stress doesn’t have to be a constant part of your life, and it shouldn’t be! It’s not good for your mind or body. For more ways to take care of your entire body, visit Core PT!