How Stress Affects Your Health

By Emma Lavengood,

It is scientifically proven that past a certain age, humans experience stress. You may have stress caused by a job, family member, friend, circumstance or experience. You might feel like you are always busy, never having enough time for yourself or your family. Sometimes you feel like your head could explode with all of the responsibilities on your plate. Although we all experience stress, we react to stress in different ways.

Reacting negatively towards stress leads to chronic stress. Chronic stress occurs when stress interferes with your ability to live a normal life. This has major wear and tear on your body, which can cause major health problems.

Chronic stress can affect you both mentally and physically. The physical side-effects of stress can be anywhere from skin rashes and high blood pressure to stomach ailments, heart disease and cancer. Stress also speeds the aging process.

Overtime, stress can cause mental disorders including drug and alcohol abuse, depression and anxiety. “Chronic stressful life situations can increase the risk of developing depression if you aren't coping with the stress well,” says Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, Doctor at the Mayo Clinic. “There's also increasing evidence of links among poor coping, stress and physical illness.”

So how do you cope? There are many ways to cope with stress. Exercising is a great way to reduce stress. Simply getting 30 minutes of exercise a day will make a big difference in your health. Exercise releases endorphins into your body, creating a positive feeling which ultimately puts you in a good mood. Try finding an exercise buddy, it can help you stay committed! If you are incapable of doing physical exercise, try meditation or yoga. These exercises are low impact, so they aren’t as hard on your body.

Exercise isn’t the only way to cope with stress, but having a healthy diet impacts your body positively, too. Having a healthy diet not only includes eating a healthy diet full of nutrients, but also getting enough sleep. Eating healthy and getting enough sleep will help put problems into perspective and put those stressful feelings aside. Don’t forget to drink a lot of water, too! This will keep your body hydrated.

Sometimes the hardest way to cope with stress is simply saying ‘no’ to obligations, including committees or groups. If you are someone who enjoys being busy, you need to take time for yourself to relax and renew. Having too much on your plate can create stress. We are called human beings, not human doings. Take some time to just be.

These tips might not work with everybody, so if you still find yourself stressed, you will want to see your doctor to talk about treatment options.

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