5 Ways Stress Affects Your Body and How to Combat Them
Feeling stressed some days is completely normal, even expected considering the fast-paced environment we all live in today. But when your stress levels are constantly high, day after day, it can result in harmful consequences for your body. Your heart beats faster, your muscles tense and your breathing gets heavier. A continuous stream of these responses could put your health at risk in multiple ways. To keep you informed, we’ve developed five ways that stress affects your body in addition to how to combat them; because although stress has negative effects, reducing it is possible.
1. Immune System
When the stress hormone, aka cortisol is initially released during our “fight or flight” response, it can be beneficial in avoiding infections and healing wounds. Over time though, if you stay stressed, the hormone will weaken your immune system and reduce your body’s reaction to foreign invaders. Not only can chronic stress increase your recovery time, but it can also make you more likely to get a viral illness like the flu or the common cold. To help combat stress in this situation, we recommend exercising. It can be something as simple as stretching during a work break or taking a short walk around the block. Spending a few minutes moving around will lower your body’s stress levels and increase your body’s feel-good hormone – endorphins!
Usually, the cortisol levels in your body – also known as the primary stress hormone – are at their highest point in the morning and lowest at night. When those levels are disrupted due to stress, it can highly affect your appearance, resulting in acne, weak nails and hair loss. Plus, when cortisol is elevated, your skin can take on a dull complexation, and over time, result in increased lines and wrinkles. To combat the effects stress has on your appearance, we recommend considering supplements. It’s proven that several supplements can help promote stress reduction. The most common ones include lemon balm, omega-3 fatty acids, green tea and valerian root. So next time you notice a stress-induced break-out, try brewing a cup of green tea or take a dose of valerian root and watch as your anxiety levels decrease. LightRx also offers many amazing and affordable services and treatments for stressed out skin. We recommend skin rejuvenation services and a variety of amazing Jan Marini Skin Care products.
3. Muscular System
You may have noticed that when you get stressed out, your muscles become very tense. That’s because they are trying to protect themselves from any injuries. Usually, your muscles relax after some time, and you calm down, but if you continue to stay stressed out, tight muscles can result in headaches, back and shoulder pain and full-body aches. Additionally, it can lead to flare-ups of arthritis symptoms and other conditions. To combat your stressed-out muscles, we recommend laughing! It may seem silly, but forcing yourself to laugh can trick your nervous system into thinking you’re happy. It releases endorphins, decreases stress hormones and relieves tension by relaxing your muscles.
4. Cardiovascular System
When you’re feeling stressed, your heart pumps faster and your blood vessels constrict, diverting more oxygen to your muscles and giving you a burst of strength. This change can be helpful in a “fight or flight” situation, but frequently staying in this state of panic can make your heart work too hard for too long, contributing to high blood pressure, heart disease and an increased chance of stroke, blood clots or heart attack. To slow down your racing heart, we recommend listening to relaxing music. Taking a break to listen to calm music can reduce stress levels, reduce anxiety, lower your blood pressure and lower your heart rate. Try creating a playlist of nature sounds or your favorite classical music to play during stressful times.
5. Mental Health
Your stress levels and mental health are deeply connected. For example, anxiety is the most common mood disorder, and it’s a byproduct of stress. Stress can cause symptoms of depression, reduce your enthusiasm regarding activities and even increase the amount of bad food you consume. One theory suggests these symptoms are caused because hormones are released during stress that disrupts the chemical in your brain that affects mood. Over time, a change in this mood chemical – serotonin – may lead to other mental disorders. To combat this disturbance with your mental health, we suggest talking to someone. Step away from the situation and make a phone call to a close friend or family member. Talking about your stressors and hearing a reassuring, comforting voice can help put things into perspective. In fact, spending time with family and friends helps release oxytocin, a natural stress reliever. It’s called the “tend and befriend” response and is considered the opposite of “fight or flight.”
Feeling stressed is natural, but having chronic stress can hurt your physical and mental health, and even your appearance. Next time you feel your heart racing or anxiety creeping in, try using our suggestions to combat stress and start looking and feeling better! And remember, LightRx offers FREE consultations with our expert clinicians to discuss your stressed out skin and body worries.
Do you have a different technique for combatting stress? Let us know in the comments below!