We all deal with stress to some degree. From school and work to finances and family responsibilities, there are all sorts of things in our daily lives that can cause stress. And while it is unavoidable, it is manageable.
Stress does more than just cause you to worry and become irritable. Stress also impacts your physical and mental health.
Here’s a look at seven ways that stress can impact your health, plus a few tips on how you can reduce it.
Stress is a sleep killer, and without proper sleep the brain and body cannot perform at optimal levels.
A lack of sleep makes it harder to focus and concentrate. It also reduces our ability to form memories, have quick reflexes, and reason and problem-solve. It impacts physical health as well and can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease, put you at higher risk for obesity, and weaken your immune system overall.
Stress can cause you to lose sleep, and it can also be caused by a lack of sleep. They are highly connected. Knowing how to manage stress can help you get a better night’s sleep, and learning ways to improve your sleep habits can help you reduce it.
High Blood Pressure
When you’re under a lot of pressure, your body releases stress hormones, such as epinephrine, cortisol, and norepinephrine. Epinephrine, better known as adrenaline, increases your heart rate and elevates your blood pressure. In turn, high blood pressure can increase your risk for kidney disease, stroke, frequent headaches, and other dangerous medical conditions.
Stress can have a huge impact on your weight.
Many people turn to food when they feel burned out or overwhelmed, and they often gravitate towards the wrong types of meals and snacks. Indulging in sweet, salty, or fatty foods to relieve overwhelming feelings can lead to obesity, which can lead to all sorts of medical issues and cardiovascular conditions.
On the contrary, some people eat less when they’re stressed and can even develop eating disorders such as anorexia.
No matter how much stress you’re under, one of the best ways to manage it is to make healthy choices and maintain a balanced, nutritious diet.
In addition to raising your blood pressure, stress can also increase inflammation in the body, cause chest pain, and put you at higher risk for a heart attack or a cardiovascular event. It can also elevate your blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels, restrict blood flow to the heart muscle, and lead to a buildup of plaque in the arteries.
Learn to manage stressful moments in life and you can reduce your risk of heart disease.
Anxiety and Depression
Stressful events can lead to anxiety and depression, especially when stressful periods are intense and/or prolonged. As we mentioned above, stress increases the production of the cortisol hormone, which makes us feel even more anxious. If you’re prone to bouts of anxiety, stress will only make it worse.
The good news is that there are a variety of things you can do to combat anxiety caused from stress, such as:
- Learning deep breathing techniques
- Listening to music
- Improving sleep habits
- Consuming medical marijuana
Medical marijuana, as prescribed by a physician, can also be helpful. If you’ve never used cannabis before it’s normal to feel apprehensive about “getting high” for the first time. But don’t worry — if you don’t enjoy the feeling, there’s a product called HIBEGONE that can actually bring you out of a cannabis high in about 15 minutes.
Poor Lifestyle Choices
Many people combat stress with lifestyle choices that are less than ideal, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, and using or abusing drugs. Any and all of these behaviors can have a negative impact on your physical and mental health in multiple ways.
Rather than turn to poor lifestyle choices, make healthy choices and learn ways to reduce stress before it becomes overwhelming. You can do so by:
- Taking breaks and scheduling vacations
- Learning time management skills so you don’t feel overwhelmed at work
- Practicing self-care and mindfulness
- Pursuing hobbies that relax you
- Establishing healthy eating habits
Weakened Immune System
All of health impacts we discussed above often combine to create one major, overarching health concern:
A weakened immune system.
A weakened immune system puts you at higher risk for getting sick, contracting viruses, and experiencing more severe symptoms of colds and flus. Keeping your immune system strong is key, and you can do so by improving sleep habits, eating well and exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding substances like alcohol and nicotine.
Stress can have a devastating effect on your health in many different ways. While there’s no way to fully avoid it, it’s important to know the risks and learn how to cope with it before it becomes a chronic issue in your life.