Stress is a part of life. We all experience it from time to time, and it can even be beneficial in small doses. But when stress becomes chronic, it can take a toll on our physical and mental health. Here are five ways chronic stress can impact your health.
Chronic Stress Can Lead to High Blood Pressure
One of the ways chronic stress can impact your health is by increasing your blood pressure. When you're constantly under stress, your body produces more cortisol hormone. This can cause your blood vessels to constrict, which leads to higher blood pressure. Over time, this can put you at risk for heart disease and stroke. Managing stress through relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation can help to keep your blood pressure in check. In addition, following a healthy diet, including heart-healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein, can help to reduce stress levels and promote heart health. Follow the link for heart healthy diet tips to keep your heart healthy and reduce stress.
Chronic Stress Can Weaken Your Immune System
Your immune system is your body's defence against infection and illness, so it's essential to keep it strong. Unfortunately, chronic stress can affect your immune system, making you more susceptible to getting sick.
There are several ways that stress can weaken your immune system. First, when you're stressed, your body releases hormones like cortisol. These hormones can suppress the activity of your immune system. Additionally, chronic stress can also lead to inflammation, which can further weaken the immune system.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to mitigate the effects of stress on your immune system. Exercise, for example, is a great way to reduce stress and improve immunity.
Chronic Stress Can Cause Weight Gain
Cortisol also encourages our bodies to store fat, especially around the abdomen. This is because our bodies are preparing for "fight or flight" mode in times of stress and need extra energy to protect us from perceived threats. The problem is that most of us don't burn off that extra energy, leading to weight gain over time.
Chronic Stress Can Lead to Anxiety and Depression
Chronic stress can cause changes in the brain that lead to anxiety and depression. It does this by affecting the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which play a role in mood regulation. Additionally, chronic stress can shrink the hippocampus, a part of the brain responsible for memory and learning, further exacerbating symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Chronic stress can Worsen Existing Health Conditions
Suppose you already have a health condition like heart disease, diabetes, asthma, or ulcers. In that case, chronic stress can make it worse by causing inflammation throughout the body or by triggering flare-ups of symptoms. For example, people with asthma may experience more frequent and severe asthma attacks under chronic stress.
Chronic stress is no joke—it affects our physical and mental health in several ways. If you're feeling overwhelmed by stress, there are things you can do to manage it better (like exercise, relaxation techniques, and talking to a therapist). Don't let chronic stress control your life—take action today!