Stress . . . we all know it and have learned to live with it. But, is it killing you? Over three quarters of Americans report feeling the physical and psychological effects of stress, and it’s not getting any better. Forty four percent of Americans report feeling more stressed than they were five years ago. Nonetheless, despite how common stress has become, it is wasting your time, money and energy.
Three out of four doctor’s visits are due to stress-related ailments, and stress has been linked to the top six causes of death in the U.S. Women are also twice as likely to be stressed than men. Your body was never meant to sustain prolonged periods of intense stress. Your body was made for balance.
Clearly, long-term, or chronic, stress has negative effects on your body. By constantly firing your body’s fight of flight mechanisms, chronic stress can lead to wide spread inflammation in the body. Inflammation leads to tissue and organ damage, which ultimately can result in a weakened immune system and other poorly functioning systems such as the heart and brain.
Stress has also been shown to lower libido and limit arousal. With all of the distracting thoughts racing through your mind and stressing you even more, who has the time to be turned on? Stress distracts many women from intercourse; however, other mechanisms are also at work. Elevated cortisol levels in the body as a result of chronic stress, can actually make arousal difficult to achieve.
Some studies are now linking increased stress levels to higher rates of vaginal yeast infections. Similarly, high stress individuals are at greater risk to develop arthritis within the next 3 years. Chronic stress also contributes to decreased memory function and impaired cognition.
The scariest thing about stress is that it can even effect your genes and cross generations. Stress has the ability to influence how your genes are expressed and effect your genetics in such a way that you age faster and shorten your lifespan. It is even so potent, that if a pregnant woman undergoes high stress throughout her pregnancy, the gene markers she passes on to her child could be altered so that her child can feel her stress.
But . . . there is hope! These genetic (really referred to as epigenetic) changes can be reversed. Simple habits of stress relief can save your life . . . and your children’s. Stress management can include:
Stress Management Tips
Here’s how to do it:
1. Prayer and meditation
2. Laughing with friends
3. Leaning on your support system
5. Daily exercise
6. Setting a bed time and wake time
7. Getting adequate amounts of sleep every night
8. Avoiding caffeine, alcohol or carbohydrates
9. Taking vacations
10. Taking scheduled breaks throughout the day
Let’s face it: Stress can never be eliminated. It can only be managed. Let’s make the decision to start dealing with our stress before it starts dealing with us and our bodies.
Live and feel well!