The effects of stress over a short period are your body’s ‘fight or flight’ mode, designed to protect you in an emergency. However, over a longer period of time, stress can start to bring about effects that can put your health at serious risk.
Many of us simply put up with stress as part of everyday life. However, it’s important for your health and wellbeing that you don’t allow your stress levels to remain at a high level for too long.
Here are 5 reasons why you should de-stress.
Your immune system becomes weaker
Stress actually stimulates the immune system in the short term, which can of course be beneficial. This can help you avoid infections and heal wounds. However, many of the negative effects of stress come when stress is sustained over a longer period of time. Constant stress can actually weaken your immune system in the long run. This can make you more susceptible to viral illnesses and infections like cold and flu. Your recovery time is also affected for both illness and injuries.
You’re more at risk of a heart attack
When under stress, you breathe faster and your heart rate increases. Your body pumps more blood and oxygen around your body to give your muscles the strength to take action. If sustained over a longer period however, this can increase your blood pressure. With a higher blood pressure and your heart working too hard for too long, the risk of having a stroke or heart attack increases.
Your sleep could be affected
One of the more simple effects of stress is lack of sleep or insomnia. Stress affects your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep, thus also affecting the quality of your sleep. This can also be affected by whatever is causing your stress levels to rise in the first place. Being stressed can leave you unable to wind down, frequently infuriated or even depressed. As previously mentioned, stress also causes your heart rate to rise, which again is bad for your sleep.
You could become depressed
Sustained stress has been shown to lead to reduced levels of serotonin and dopamine, something which often leads to depression. These chemicals regulate processes like sleep, appetite and energy. A short period of stress is unlikely to cause depression, however if the stress response fails to shut off after this time, depression is a possibility.
Your blood sugar may increase
One of the effects of stress is increased glucose production by your body. When stressed, your liver will produce extra glucose to give you an energy boost. If this is sustained, your body may be unable to keep up with the extra blood sugar. As a result, you are at more risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
How to De-Stress
Exercise has a number of benefits and reducing stress levels is one. Whether it’s walking, running or playing tennis, during exercise your body releases mood-boosting chemicals called endorphins. It also helps to reduce blood pressure, reducing the risk of a stroke or heart attack.
Meditation also helps to reduce blood pressure while also relaxing your mind and body. Take 2 or 3 minutes to just sit, switch off and focus only on your breathing.
Laughter has been found to reduce stress and reduce inflammation in the arteries.
Take a break from your screen. Take a bit of time each day to get away from your screen. Whether it’s your computer, phone or TV, take some time to do something a bit different. Maybe try meditation?
The effects of stress can have a profound effect on your day-to-day life. We experience stress all the time. Whether it’s when we’re stuck in traffic, trying to meet deadlines or struggling with the loss of a loved one, stress is practically unavoidable. Unfortunately for many of us, it even becomes part of our day-to-day life. This is where stress can really start to affect your health. Take some time where you can to really focus on de-stressing and see how this improves your health!
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