Stress is part of life: sweaty palms, a racing mind and pounding heart often plague work presentations or packed schedules. In dangerous circumstances, it can be a lifesaving natural instinct, raising your heart rate and boosting blood flow in preparation for a fight or flight response. In everyday activities, however, too much stress can become bothersome, unhealthy and downright harmful in the long run.
Here are several ways that persistent stress can negatively affect your mental and physical health as well as your daily life.
Over a long period of time, the stress hormone cortisol can actually change the structure of the brain. Memory and learning ability are typically most affected by this restructuring, but mood is also commonly altered by stress.
Cortisol can inhibit areas of the brain that regulate emotions and cause drastic mood swings and irritability. Researchers have even found a link between consistent stress with an increased risk of developing anxiety or depression.
If you find your personal relationships or daily life beginning to be affected by your stress, consider seeking professional counselling to discover the specific ways that you should address it.
The stress hormone has also been linked to a dangerous combination of increased appetite and lowered ability to burn fat. Likely a natural way for your body to save energy during a dangerous situation, this response can quickly lead to unhealthy weight gain. Similarly, an anxious mind is more likely to crave unhealthy comfort foods like sweets and simple carbohydrates to feel better immediately.
To avoid weight gain during particularly stressful times, try updating the way you eat your meals. Consider drinking a glass of water before eating and taking a short walk right after your meal. This should help you feel satiated and aid digestion to avoid overeating or unwanted fat storage.
While stress improves important functions like breathing and concentration, it disrupts your brain’s attention to nonessential functions, like procreation. Cortisol naturally lowers your libido, resulting in a decreased interest in sex, enjoyment of it and even ability to perform during it.
Many men face erectile dysfunction during particularly stressful times, which can lead to even more stress and self-scrutiny. If the intimacy in your relationship has become affected by stress, use personal need to steer the direction of your solution. Perhaps an ED medication or treatment would be most beneficial for you, or maybe all you need is a relaxing, romantic weekend alone with your partner.
Consider having a conversation with your partner to reflect on the best course of action for your relationship specifically.
Stress can wear down your immune system, weakening your body’s ability to fight off bugs. This leaves you vulnerable to various diseases and illnesses, ranging from issues as minor as the common cold to several types of cancer, heart disease and stroke.
To avoid getting sick, make sure you’re finding immunity-supportive ways to manage your stress for the long-term. Regular exercise, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and alcohol avoidance all offer healthy ways to lower your stress levels and boost your body’s natural immune response. Try to incorporate one or two of these suggestions into your routine to relax and stay healthy.
The body’s response to stress--rapid heart rate and alert mind--is the enemy of a good night’s sleep. Nighttime anxieties and stressful thoughts can prevent the mind from shutting down efficiently and leave you tossing and turning all night. In turn, the resulting poor sleep can actually worsen your stress levels and begin the cycle all over again.
Instead of letting stress keep you awake all night long, try some bedtime relaxation techniques. A quick yoga routine, meditation or journaling can all help clear away daily stressors and lower your heart rate in order to help you transition to sleep.
While some stress is healthy, too much can leave you exposed to mismanaged hormones, unsupported bodily systems, and unhealthy living. Stress doesn’t need to control your life.
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by stress multiple times a week, try taking a few steps to update your lifestyle and ensure you’re staying calm and healthy.
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