Can worrying make you sick? The effects of stress on your health

Find out if stress is affecting your health, and how to control it

Are you constantly stressed out?  It is normal to experience a slight amount of stress on a daily basis.  In fact, many studies show that a moderate amount of stress is beneficial to a person’s motivation and productivity.  However, too much anxiety can do a lot of harm, not only mentally but physically as well.  In this article we take a look at what causes stress, how it can affect your health, and some great ways to reduce the amount of stress in your life.

What is stress?
Stress does not just exist in a person’s mind.  Stress is a physiological response to dangerous situations, and the body responds by producing cortisol and adrenaline.  Since stress is a physiological phenomenon and not just a mental one, it makes sense that stress affects the way that the body physically functions.
Causes of stress
There are countless things that cause stress in life, and each cause of stress affects each person differently.  However, there are certain things that tend to be major causes of stress in every person’s life.  Some of these stressors are:
  • Work problems or unemployment
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Family problems
  • Financial difficulties
  • The loss of a loved one
  • Moving to a new place
  • Health problems
It is important to note that not all causes of stress are negative events.  Dramatic life changes that are positive, such as going to college, getting married, or having children can also be causes of stress in a person’s life.
Health problems
Here are various health problems that are caused by or made worse by high levels of stress:
  • Heart disease: People who are constantly worried put more pressure on their arteries and their heart, making them more susceptible to heart disease.  Also, severe acute stress can cause a heart attack, so people with existing heart problems should try to avoid stressful situations.
  • Digestive problems: It is a common belief that stress causes ulcers.  This is not true, but constant worrying is known to exacerbate them.  It is also know to worsen acid reflux disease.
  • Colds and the flu: Some studies suggest that stress weakens the immune system, putting you more at risk of getting sick.
  • Sleep disorders: Those who suffer from anxiety are more likely to have trouble sleeping or develop sleeping disorders such as insomnia.
  • Skin conditions: People who experience high amounts of stress are more likely to develop skin problems such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
  • Headaches: Anxiety is one of the leading causes of many types of headaches, including tension headaches and migraines.
How to deal with stress
Although it is impossible to completely avoid stress in your life, there are many ways to decrease your stress level and deal with stressful situations.  Some of these include:
  • Moderate exercise: Exercise is a great way to relieve stress.  One of the most popular stress relieving activities is yoga – sign up for a yoga class, and you will see that you are less stressed afterward.
  • Relaxation: Practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation, is a great way to relieve stress.
  • Positive thinking: Many people are unaware of the negative way that they think about themselves, also known as self talk.  You wouldn’t be mean to another person on a daily basis, would you?  Try to be more positive in the way you talk to yourself, and you will begin to see that your mood improves.
  • Getting enough sleep: Your body needs to rest every day in order to be able to function properly.  If you get enough sleep, you will be able to better deal with the stress in your life.
  • Seeing a therapist or counselor: Although some people are uncomfortable with the thought of talking to a stranger about their problems, a therapist is an unbiased source of help.  Therapy can help you change the way you think about others and help you to perceive the world in a more positive way.
If you find that your stress is unmanageable or interfering with your everyday life, it is important to seek professional help immediately.

Going forward

Although stress on the surface appears to be a mental issue, it is easy to see that it can affect your physical wellbeing and cause a host of medical problems.  Fortunately, stress is a problem that can be easily controlled or reduced in your life.  Using these steps, you will be able to cut down on the amount of stress in your life and be a happier, healthier person.

  • Tags: anxiety physical wellbeing stress
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