Why Lowering Stress Should Be Your Top Health Priority
For most of us lowering stress should be at the top of your priority list. Stress is not just a mental state—it impacts every organ in your body. The side effects of both short and long term stress can be extremely damaging to your body’s critical systems. According to the American Institute of Stress, around 44 percent of American feel more stressed than they did five years ago, and around 20 percent of people are suffering from extreme stress on a regular basis.
If you’re struggling with chronic stress in your life, don’t ignore it. Avoiding the problem can do more damage to your body than you think. Let’s take a look at five parts of your body that are negatively impacted by long-term stress.
Over time, stress can have an extreme impact on your teeth. Because stress can weaken your immune system, your mouth is much more vulnerable to bacteria. Oral health problems like gum disease and canker sores often pop up in people struggling with stress. Dry mouth from stress-related medication can also increase your risk of tooth decay and oral infections.
Bruxism is the technical term for teeth grinding and jaw clenching and is often a side effect of extreme stress. Since bruxism most often occurs when someone is sleeping, many people don’t even know they suffer from it—but it can still harm your mouth and lead to jaw disorders, headaches, and tooth damage.
Your digestive system is put under a lot of pressure when you’re under high amounts of stress. When stressed, the increased hormones, rapid breathing, and faster heart rate can upset your stomach severely. People who suffer from stress often struggle with:
- Acid reflux
When you’re under a lot of stress, your liver will also automatically produce glucose to give you enough energy to get you through the stressful situation. But if you suffer from chronic stress, your body will continue to produce extra glucose and increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Since there’s such a strong connection between your mind and your gut heath, a new medical specialty called a “gastroneurologist” has emerged to help people suffering with stress and digestive issues.
Your body’s fight-or-flight response is triggered during stressful situations. When those situations happen, your lungs will rapidly expand to compensate for the increased heart rate and blood flow and make you more alert. But if that high-stress state happens regularly or for too long, it can be harmful to your lungs
If you suffer from chronic lung conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), stressful situations can trigger the condition and lead to deteriorating respiratory health, hyperventilation, and asthma attacks.
When your body is in a stressful situation, your heart pumps faster to prepare it for action. The stress hormones that cause your blood vessels to constrict and pump more oxygen to your muscles also significantly raises your blood pressure.
Chronic stress keeps your blood pressure high for an extended period of time—which is a massive strain on your heart. When your blood pressure remains at that level for long, it increases the risk of having a stroke or heart attack.
A little bit of stress now and then can actually stimulate the immune system and help your body fight off germs in short-term situations and help you fight infections and heal wounds. But if you suffer from long-term stress, it can weaken your body’s immune system, making it easier for germs and viruses to invade and infect. If you struggle with frequent bouts of the flu and colds, it might be due to chronic stress.
Tips for Lowering Stress
Everyone gets a little stressed once in a while. But if you struggle with chronic stress, it’s extremely likely that stress will affect other parts of your body. Lowering stress is essential to keep your overall health positive. Some tips for reducing chronic stress include:
- Get enough sleep every night. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you don’t have as much energy during the day and may not be able to cope with stress as well. Aim for eight hours every night.
- Eat a nutritious diet. Foods like caffeine, alcohol, and processed foods can increase stress. Eating foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will help keep stress in check.
- Exercise regularly. Lower your stress by getting in a good workout. Aerobic exercises and full-body stretches boost the chemicals in your brain that will help manage stress.
About the Author
Hi there, I’m Molly Edwards! I am a business owner and devoted mother to two boys, Lukas and Henry, and wife to my husband, Erik. When I’m not running my business (or running after the boys!), I love to sit down and share with you all a bit about my whacky, wild, challenging, amazing life. https://mollyedwardsmom.weebly.com/