Stress-Related Health Issues
Matt Whelan was a student pursuing his MBA in a premier institution. He was a bright student and even excelled in academics. But when he moved out to a different country and started living on his own, his academic performance began to suffer. The stress of his performance, student loan debt, and a lucrative job started weighing down on him. He tried everything in the book to cope with the stress and even approached essay help services to take the burden off.
If this story sounds relatable, that’s because stress touches us all at some point in our lives. What’s worse is that it becomes a cause for other persistent ailments that affect our health. So, today we’ll shed light on some of the health issues related to stress and how we can overcome it.
1. Cardiovascular diseases
Many studies have indicated that a stressed-out individual is likely to suffer from high blood pressure and other heart problems. Extreme stress can increase heart rate and blood flow and prompts the release of triglycerides and cholesterol into the bloodstream.
It’s also possible that stress is associated with other problems. An increased likelihood of obesity or smoking may indirectly increase heart health risks. In fact, people suffering from chronic heart problems are often advised to avoid acute stress as much as they can.
2. Irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome is a common chronic disease that affects the large intestine. It causes cramps, bloating, diarrhoea or constipation. Flare-ups of this condition can be triggered by several factors, and many people with the condition find that stress is one of them.
Stress has been related to increased movement and sensitivity in the intestines. As the pain pathways in our central nervous systems are connected to our gut processes, external stressors can prompt unpleasant bowel symptoms.
The accumulation of fat in the stomach may pose greater health risks than fat on the legs or arms. But unfortunately, people with stress tend to store the fat in the stomach more than any other part of the body. Stress triggers the release of higher levels of the hormone cortisol, and that tends to increase the amount of fat that’s deposited in the abdomen.
Also, it’s quite well known that stress hormones stimulate a preference for foods that are full of sugar and starch. That’s why we’re more likely to go for a bar of chocolate or a tub of ice-cream to get through a stressful day at the workplace or in college.
4. Sleep dysfunction
It’s usual for older adults to experience a natural decrease in the amount of deep sleep and an increase in night-time wakefulness. And stress may worsen these sleep deficits, making it particularly troublesome for older people to fall asleep if they wake up at night. The cortisol levels may contribute night-time wakefulness, and then the brain responds by reminding us of our stressful situations.
Experts believe that sleep deprivation impairs memory and emotional control. Hence, people suffering from a sleep disorder may find it harder to deal with the stress in their lives.
5. Back, neck and shoulder pain
Countless people spend their days hunched over computer screens and mobile phones, so it’s no surprise that they’ll be susceptible to the neck, back and shoulder pain.
The combination of mental strain and physical inactivity does not in itself create the disk tears or spinal stenosis. But once the pain sets in, stress can elevate both its severity and its duration.
Tips for recovering from stress
Stressful situations may come and go, which is why it’s useful to have a few tips handy to deal with the problem.
1. Breathe deeply
Even a few minutes of continuous deep breathing can have a calming effect on you and control the physiologic stress response. The advantage of indulging in deep breathing exercises is that you can do it anywhere and anytime at your desk or even in your (parked) car.
Many researchers opine that as you exhale, you relieve a specific muscle group. Start with the muscles in your jaw. When the next time you exhale, make sure to relax your shoulders. Continue practising until you’re feeling calm.
2. Check your eating habits
Stress levels and an appropriate diet are connected with one another. When you’re overwhelmed, you often forget to eat nutritious food and instead resort to consuming sugary, fatty snacks as a pick-me-up.
Steer clear from sugary snacks and keep healthier alternatives handy. Fruits and nuts are always a great idea for healthy snacking. You can also include fishes into your diet as they contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. This nutrient is said to reduce the symptoms of stress. So, a tuna sandwich can really be good for your brain.
3. Listen to soothing music
If you’re suddenly feeling too overwhelmed by a stressful situation, take a quick break and listen to relaxing music. Listening to calm music has a positive impact on your body and brain, can control blood pressure, and also keep your cortisol levels in check.
Ideally playing a classical tune would be calming for your senses. But if classical really isn’t your thing, you can also listen to the sounds of ocean or nature. It may sound weird, but they have similar relaxing effects on your mind.
4. Take time out to exercise
Physical exercise can help keep stress in check. It releases endorphins, the feel-good chemicals in the brain that serve as natural painkillers and promote feelings of euphoria and wellbeing. Exercise also helps you to shift your focus from your mind to the body. This allows you to step back from the stress and concentrate on something else.
In addition, physical exercise decreases tension and improves the quality of sleep, which leads to an overall relief from stress. No need to devote hours at the gym to reap the benefits. Even a few minutes of aerobic exercises will contribute to your stress relief.
Winding it up,
While feeling stressed out is rather common, being aware of triggers often helps in the process of overcoming it. You should never let it get in the way of your physical and mental wellbeing. Also, don’t forget to seek professional help to nip the problem in the bud.
Henry Howkins is a visiting faculty for a reputed college in Australia. He has acquired his Master’s degree in psychology from Murdoch University. He’s a fitness enthusiast and dabbles into blogging as well. He’s also an academic advisor for MyAssignmenthelp.com and offers homework help to students in need.