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5 Ways Stress Impacts Your Overall Health

Nov 01, 2023

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5 Ways Stress Impacts Your Overall Health

Stress is something we’ve all felt at one time or another. Maybe you’re stuck in traffic or you have a big performance coming up soon. Or maybe you’ve had a big fight with your partner or close friend. All of these situations can easily trigger a stress response.

Sometimes stress can motivate us to perform well by giving us a boost of energy and adrenaline; however, other times it can be severely debilitating, especially when it starts to become a chronic issue.

When you deal with chronic stress, it can begin to take a toll on your overall health. Because of that, our team at The Modalities Group in Bowie, Maryland, wants to review some ways stress can affect your health and offer some ways to help reduce and manage that stress.

How can stress affect your health?

Stress can impact your physical, emotional, and mental health in many different ways, but these are five of the major areas that stress can start to influence if it goes unmanaged:

1. Heart health

When you’re stressed, your heart pumps faster and your blood pressure rises. Large amounts of the hormone cortisol are also released. While your body should go back to normal after the stressful event has passed, if you’re chronically stressed, these levels may stay elevated.

If this happens, it puts you at a much higher risk for a heart attack or stroke. It also raises your risk of diseases such as coronary artery disease or stress-induced cardiomyopathy.

2. Digestive system

Increased stress levels can induce a rush of hormones, rapid breathing, and a faster heart rate. All of these things combined do some serious damage to your digestive tract. 

Not only can you have the feeling of butterflies in your stomach, but you can also experience acid reflux, diarrhea, and nausea. 

3. Immune system

Acute (short-term) stress can stimulate your immune system, which is a huge plus for short-term situations. However, when stress levels are high in your body for too long, that stress starts to weaken your immune system. 

This means your body is no longer able to effectively fight off foreign invaders, putting you much more at risk for developing illnesses or even an autoimmune disorder.

4. Cognitive function

Chronic stress can start to make changes in the structure and function of your brain. When this happens, you may start to notice that you’re more tired, you have more trouble focusing or concentrating, and you start to have issues with memory. 

This can make it difficult to feel motivated or learn new things.

5. Behavior changes

Heightened stress for long periods may cause you to seek ways to relieve it. Many people who struggle with chronic stress end up feeling irritable, anxious, depressed, and restless. 

This may cause you to start misusing drugs or alcohol, taking your anger out on others, withdrawing socially, or overeating. 

Healthy ways to manage stress

While it may seem easier to manage stress through more idle, mind-numbing methods such as watching TV or scrolling through your social media, studies suggest this can elevate your stress over time. So, we recommend trying out some of these stress-reducing tips instead:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation
  • Make time to be around family and friends
  • Keep a journal
  • Maintain a healthy sleep schedule
  • Schedule time for your hobbies or other passions

Avoid investing your time in unhealthy habits such as illegal substances, tobacco, or alcohol usage. You may also want to limit the amount of time you spend staring at screens. 

If you find that these methods still aren’t helping you cope with or manage your stress, contact our team so we can talk with you about what techniques might work best for you.

To set up an appointment with us, you can call our office at 301-701-5816 or use our online scheduler today.