5 Ways Stress Affects Your Mind and Body
We all know we should lower our stress levels, but it isn’t always easy. Sometimes, though, knowing exactly how stress is affecting us can be highly motivating to take steps that will actually decrease stress in our lives. Whether we do it by spending time in nature, practicing yoga or tai chi, laughing more often, or by unplugging from our computers and smart phones for at least a few hours every day, lowering stress is imperative. Here are 5 reasons why learning how to destress is so important:
- 1. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, stress leads to some of the most debilitating diseases of our time, including higher rates of heart disease, cancer, accidental injury and even suicide. Try taking ten deep, relaxed breaths to combat stress and live a little longer.
- 2. Stress produces more cortisol, norepinephrine, and adrenaline – 3 hormones that deplete your vitamin B stores and suppress your immune system. Dr. Hans Selye, a stress-studying scientist has even said that the amount of stress in your life can even predict how many colds you are likely to get. While these hormones are responsible for arousal – too much of them can make your body feel like it is at high-alert all the time. Instead, try some old-fashioned intimate contact, or just a friendly, platonic hug. Human contact lowers stress levels. Psychiatrist Charles Nemeroff, M.D. says affection is great for lowering stress levels.
- 3. Stress Raises Your Heart Rate, Respiratory Rate and Interrupts Digestion – A more beneficial way of getting your heart beating, and one that actually helps to reduce stress is through exercise. Just moving up to 30 mins a day can drastically reduce stress levels and increase feel good hormones like melatonin and seratonin. Or, try utilizing these 4 herbs for anxiety and stress.
- 4. Stress Interferes with Your Sleep Cycles – As upsetting as losing sleep is when you are already under lots of stress, it is usually when we are ruminating about something and our anxiety levels are already high that we can’t get a good nights rest. Try to sleep at least 7 to 9 hours every night, even if it means you wear and eye mask and take Valerian Root or Passion Flower Extract to help calm your nervous system enough o get some good shut-eye. Stress levels will automatically be reduced and you will have a lot more energy the day after a good night’s rest.
- 5. Long-Term Stress can Cause Adrenal Fatigue – If you are always operating in a fight-or-flight capacity, constantly worried or stressed, your body is likely to go through something called adrenal fatigue. Our adrenal glands are responsible for making over 50 different hormones and can normally help us to deal with stress in small doses, but if we never get a break, we can develop adrenal fatigue which causes us to store excess fat, and our cells to take longer to repair themselves – thus causing us to age faster. If you can find a way to take a long vacation, do it. You can also try taking calcium and magnesium supplements or eating foods high in these minerals as well as eliminate negative people from your life. Your adrenal health may depend on it.
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.