The Real Toll of Stress, and What to Do About It
I’m sure you already have a good idea of how much stress can interfere with your fitness and diet habits. But do you know how bad stress really is for your body?
Let’s just say it’s pretty bad. After years of working in the health and fitness industry, I’ve learned a lot about the real effects of stress on health and I thought it was really critical to inform you with this article.
Acute vs. Chronic Stress
Ultimately this difference means everything. One stressful incident isn’t enough to ruin your health, but increased stress over time is where the real toll on your body happens.
The culprit is cortisol. This stress hormone is a vital part of your fight or flight response. In occasional doses it doesn’t really do any harm. But when it’s released too often or for long periods of time, damage occurs to a number of bodily systems. In fact, scientists blame most of the negative side effects of stress on cortisol.
The Toll on Your Body
Here are a few things that happen when you experience chronic or repeated stress:
Raised Blood Pressure – The impact of stress on your cardiovascular health is huge. Not only do you end up with higher blood pressure, but also elevated heart rate, and these things can lead to heart disease over time.
Reduced Immunity – Chronic stress leads to an impaired immune system over time, largely because of cortisol. You become more susceptible to colds and infections, and you’re more likely to experience inflammation and soreness.
Weight Gain – A number of studies have shown that increased levels of cortisol actually lead to more belly fat specifically. Not only does stress make you put on weight, it makes you put it on in the worst place possible. It also contributes to insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes.
Memory Loss – Short-term memory loss can be seriously affected by too much stress. This reflects a more general impact on your mental health and concentration, which can affect every aspect of your life.
Accelerated Aging – To make matters even worse, stress speeds up the aging process by adding to the wear and tear on your cells. Every sign of aging can be worsened here, from wrinkles to gray hair.
What You Can Do About It
Obviously this all sounds pretty serious, and it is, especially if you find yourself unable to deal with stress for long periods of time.
Here’s some clear and highly effective advice to follow:
- Take a deep breath. In fact, take several deep breaths as it has been shown to reduce your stress levels almost immediately.
- Sit down and write down the causes of your stress. Try and do this first thing in the morning when you have the clearest head.
- Identify ways you can reduce your stress whether it be changing jobs, finding some help from other family matters or scheduling calendars better.
- Plan your meals and exercise schedule on Sundays and include alternatives if roadblocks come your way.
- When you exercise, think about exerting all your energy against all the things that are causing you stress, it’s incredible how much this helps!
- See a counsellor. Speaking about what’s causing you stress with a professional is one of the most best things you can do for stress, and if stress causes cancer then when you think about it, it’s not that expensive after all!
For further tips on how to deal with stress and anxiety, check out these posts:
And remember, the real toll on your body occurs when you encounter lots of stress for long periods of time, or on too frequent of a basis. If you want to get healthy and stay that way, you need to learn how to handle the rough patches.
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