Stress and Your Health

Stress seems to be part of our every day, particularly in our fast-paced, “need it done yesterday” society. However, there does come a point when stress begins to negatively affect our health. This month at MALO Health & Wellness we observe Stress Awareness Month.

All too often, people take the daily grind as just a part of life without taking a moment to relax and think about their health. But studies have shown that stress can adversely affect our health in a few areas and exacerbate already existing conditions. Believe it or not, stress can lead to or worsen obesity, heart disease, diabetes, depression, gastrointestinal problems and asthma, and can even intensify symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

As the body responds to stress, it releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol to help the body cope. It also constricts the blood vessels and raises the heart rates, all of which are natural reactions, but prolonged stress can cause serious damage to the body’s various systems.

Did you know?

  • Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
  • Seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
  • Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a hazard of the workplace.
  • Stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually.
  • The lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50%, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions.

The good news is that taking steps to managing stressors or eliminating unnecessary stress can help you stay healthy. Before you stress about stress, below are a few tips to help manage it:

  • Deep breathing. Taking some time to control your breathing and clear your mind can work wonders on calming your body’s natural response. The best option is to take a moment each day to relax and meditate, but if that’s not possible taking a pause to breathe and collect yourself during times of stress is a great next option.
  • Focus on what you can control. When you’re stressed your mind can wander in so many directions, thinking about “what if’s” and what could have been done differently to change the situation. Instead, focus on the moment and how you can better the situation.

It’s all about perspective. The perennial optimist might provide this kind of advice and be brushed off, but it’s true. During times of stress, it can be helpful to think of times in which you were grateful. This tactic can be surprisingly helpful.

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