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October 25, 2014 Health Articles

Stress and Health

Anyone who leads a busy, fast-paced lifestyle has experienced plenty of stress. It can be stressful to get to work on time, especially if you have kids you have to drop off at school or childcare first. It can be stressful to keep up with the demands of your job and responsibilities at home. What you may not realize is just how much stress can affect your health. When your body is constantly in a “fight or flight” mode, it wears down your body and weakens your immune system, making you more vulnerable to getting sick or developing a chronic condition. We may not be able to slow down life’s pace, but we can learn how stress affects our health and adopt better ways of handling the stressful situations of life.

What Happens if You Are Stressed All The Time?

If you are stressed all the time and that stress manifests itself through your body, you may experience minor consequences, but you can also experience major consequences. Stressful situations can cause stomach aches, nausea, headaches or fatigue—temporary problems that often go away once the stressful situation is resolved. As a result of a worn out body, you may also be more susceptible to catching a cold, fever or flu that will plague you for a few weeks without doing any permanent damage. However, as a result of prolonged stress you can also experience more serious, life-threatening problems like a heart attack or other heart conditions. Stress may take a toll on your emotional health, and you may develop depression. If you are constantly stressed you may develop unhealthy habits like smoking or drinking alcohol frequently, which could lead you to eventually develop lung cancer, pancreatic, cirrhosis, and other diseases.

How to Handle Stress in a Healthy Way

Now that you know how stress can affect your health, you should try to handle your stress in a healthy way that will protect you from illness and negative feelings. Identify the problems that are causing you stress, and try to think of ways you could fix those problems to make them less stressful. Put aside some time every day to enjoy a relaxing activity like reading or meditating. Avoid stimulants like caffeinated soda, coffee, and energy drinks—they will just make you more stressed if you are already stressed. Try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night so your body will be energized each day and ready to take on challenges. Focus on living your life calmly, and your body will be equipped to handle stress constructively rather than wearing you down and harming your health.

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