For many, each New Year their resolution is to lessen the stress that seems to have become a way of life.
There is a reason we all strive to lessen the stress in our daily lives. When you are stressed the body releases hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline- which causes the fight or flight reaction. This can speed up the normal function of several organs, including the heart. The fight or flight reaction is appropriate when we face immediate threats but can be damaging if prolonged; as our bodies are only designed to deal with the effects of stress for short intervals.
Extended periods of stress can take its toll on our health in many ways. Long-term stress is known to negatively affect several systems of the body, including:
- The Nervous System– High levels of cortisol and adrenaline can impair the nervous system, which regulates heart rates, the excretion of waste, breathing rates and the dilation and constriction of blood vessels.
- The Immune System– Chronic stress can weaken the immune system, which increases the risk of infections, infectious diseases, skin problems such as eczema and can slow down wound healing rates.
- The Digestive System– Excessive levels of stress can stimulate the muscles of the intestines and cause diarrhea or constipation. It can also lead to indigestion or nausea and increase the risk of ulcers or irritable bowel syndrome.
- The Endocrine System– Stress hormones can cause the liver to increase blood sugar levels. This is particularly dangerous for diabetics.
Some helpful techniques that can assist you in managing your daily stress are:
- Meditation – is helpful to the brain’s neural pathways, making you more resilient to stress
- Breathing Deeply – triggers our parasympathetic nervous system, neutralizes stress and elicits a calming feeling
- Exercise – all forms of exercise can ease depression and anxiety by helping the brain releasing feel-good chemicals giving your body a chance to practice dealing with stress
- Eating Healthy – choosing a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and fiber may reduce the chance that stress can boost the body’s natural defense system
It is important to reduce excessive and prolonged periods of stress. A healthy lifestyle that helps manage stress often requires changing your mindset. But, if you are willing to make the changes that will improve your health, the impact can be far-reaching.