Long commutes and even longer working days, pressure from family, raising kids, restless nights, and too little exercise. What do all these have in common? Stress.
We’re surrounded by stress day in and day out.
Unfortunately, the constant push and pull of chronic stress can negatively impact your health. From high blood pressure to depression to premature aging, the damage stress causes is real.
At Balance Wellspace, we understand the difficulties stress can bring, and we’re here to help. Our functional medicine treatment is non-invasive and patient-centered. We usually start with comprehensive blood testing, which can identify nutritional deficiencies and disease-process markers caused by stress. Our trained experts can then provide you with the guidance and support you need to combat the unhealthy effects of stress on your body before they cause you harm.
Read on to learn more about the negative effects of stress as well as what you can do to help or reverse them.
Stress and Your Health
You’ve probably heard of the fight-or-flight response. When faced with a stressful situation, the body releases stress hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline, into the bloodstream. This causes the blood vessels to restrict and the heart rate to increase, preparing us to either fight a threat or flee to safety.
While this response was useful in the days of predators and famine, today most of our stress doesn’t come from life-threatening situations. But our bodies don’t know that. Instead, they respond to the constant stresses of everyday life just as they would when facing a large predator.
Because we’re surrounded by stress day every day, we can develop chronic stress. And chronic stress can lead to serious damage to our health.
The Negative Impacts of Stress
When your body stays in active stress mode too long, you’re overexposed to adrenaline, cortisol, and the other stress hormones. This excess exposure can interfere with almost all bodily functions, putting you at risk for different health issues such as:
- Weight gain
- Decreased immunity
- Increased risk of heart disease
- Decreased libido
- Premature aging
- Anxiety and depression
- Sleep problems
- Stomach and digestive problems
- Chronic headaches
- Problems with focus and mental acuity
- Tooth and gum disease
What You Can Do to Help Manage Stress
Because it’s impossible to avoid stress completely, it’s important to learn how to manage it.
You may have noticed some people who stay calm in stressful situations and others who crumble under the slightest pressure. While some of this difference stems from genetic variations, much of it has to do with how each of us responds to stress.
And how you react to stress could be making you sick. That’s because many stress coping mechanisms involve unhealthy behaviors or activities such as drinking excess alcohol, smoking, or using drugs.
It’s important to learn to respond to stress with healthier alternatives, ones that promote wellness. Some health-friendly ways to cope with stress include:
- Relaxation techniques:
By actively relaxing with practices such as yoga, meditation, tai chi, and deep breathing, you can learn to calm your physical and emotional reactions and better handle stressful situations.
- Stress-relieving massages:
Massage is a powerful tool against stress. By lowering your blood pressure and heart rate and increasing the production of endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine, massage therapy promotes feelings of calm and relaxation. This makes overcoming and managing stress on a daily basis easier.
- Nurturing your body with a healthy diet:
It’s important not to underestimate the importance of a healthy diet when it comes to overcoming stress damage. But with so much conflicting advice it can be hard to know where to start. An experienced weight management counselor can help.
- Getting physical:
Research shows regular exercise decreases overall levels of stress, improves mood and sleep, and alleviates tension. Short on time? Even a short walk around the block is enough to help you manage stress better.
- Managing your time wisely:
By giving yourself more time to get through daily tasks, learning when to say no, and recognizing what is in and out of your control, you can take back your time and respond to stress in a healthier way.
- Get professional help:
You don’t have to manage everything alone. If you’re feeling stressed and unwell, professionals can help. Your health is important. Don’t wait to get help alleviating your stress and managing your wellness.
If you are looking to turn around your health and manage your stress effectively, our team at Balance Wellspace can help get you on track. Schedule a consultation today at our Roanoke, Virginia practice online or by phone.