The month of April is Stress Awareness Month, a time to spread awareness about types of stress and how it can impact your overall health. Whether it is positive, like planning a wedding, or negative, like having financial issues, everyone experiences stress throughout their lives. We all know stress affects your mental health, but it also negatively affects your physical health. While stress is pretty much unavoidable, there are ways it can be managed. Keep reading to learn more about how stress can impact your overall health.
Affects Your Heart
When it comes to heart health, stress can negatively impact the way your heart functions, and lead to serious issues. Long-term stress increases inflammation in your body, which can damage blood vessels and create a higher risk for heart disease. Chronic stress causes your heart to work too hard for too long, raising your blood pressure as well as your risk of heart attack or stroke.
Weakens the Immune System
While small amounts of stress can actually stimulate the immune system and help heal wounds and fight infection, long-term stress can weaken the immune system and reduce the body’s response to antigens that cause illnesses like flu and the common cold. Cortisol, a stress hormone, is known to drastically suppress the immune system, making you more vulnerable to illness and infection.
Disrupts Blood Sugar
Glucose is your body’s main source of fuel, and it is important to keep levels balanced to stay healthy. When you are chronically stressed, your body has a harder time regulating blood sugar, leading to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and many other health issues.
Upsets Digestive System
It is very common for people who suffer from chronic stress to have digestive system issues. Stress hormones, rapid breathing and increased heart rate can lead to heartburn and acid reflux, due to higher levels of acid in the stomach. Stress can also affect the way food travels through the body leading to stomach aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation.
Impacts Mental Health
Long term stress can lead to a variety of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. The burden of stress can wear you down mentally, negatively impacting your mental health. This can often manifest as aggression, irritability, a feeling of no control, extreme sadness, brain fog, insomnia and exhaustion, among other health concerns. Stress management can improve your quality of life and mental health.
Stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, acid reflux and diabetes. While a busy lifestyle can make it hard to reduce stress, it is important to make your mental health a priority. Stress relieving activities such as yoga, journaling, connecting with others, meditation and reading can help you restore calm, relax and de-stress.