How Stress Affects Your Body and How to Avoid It

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How Stress Affects Your Body and How to Avoid It

The reaction to challenges by your body and brain is called stress. Because stress can have a major impact on your physical and mental well-being, it’s important to acknowledge it so you can respond in the healthiest ways possible. In this post, we’ll examine who stress can impact; what the common results of stress are and how to manage stress when you recognize it taking effect.

Who Can Be Significantly Impacted by Stress

Anyone—from the age of a newborn baby to a senior citizen—can be significantly impacted by stress. Though some people may handle it better than others, or at least not show their reactions externally, no one is immune from stress. Learning to acknowledge your own stress triggers and developing ways to cope with them can save you from both minor and major health implications along the way.

The times that stress should be embraced are during situations when an elevated heartbeat or the hair standing up on the back of your neck acts a signal to potentially help you escape a dangerous scenario. In these times, your body is physically preparing you for whatever threat you face.

Common Effects of Stress  

When we think of stress, we often only think of worrying or fixating on a problem that looms in our lives, but we don’t realize how stress can affect our bodies. Stress can be a contributing factor or the main cause of any of the following:

  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Low Energy
  • Frequent Colds
  • Loss of Libido/Sexual Dysfunction
  • Moodiness
  • Sleep Issues
  • Skin Problems
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Low Self-esteem
  • Changes in Appetite
  • Weight Loss or Gain
  • Increased Use of Alcohol and/or Drugs
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Respiratory Issues
  • Gastrointestinal Problems

How to Manage Stress

There are several ways to manage stress once you recognize the experience. Depending on the severity of the challenge, one or more of the following coping mechanisms may be explored to lessen the impact.

Increase Exercise. Physical activity is a wonderful way to work through common stressors. Whether it’s a rigorous workout at the local gym or a dance party in your own living room, the endorphin boost gained from exercise can boost your mood and improve your overall wellness.

Breathe. This may seem like an obvious prescription, but for many just the simple act of mindful breathing isn’t a regular practice. Whether you meditate, pray, or participate in relaxing activities such as yoga, make time to consciously unwind.

Soak in Serenity. A hot bath can work wonders for a busy mind. Set aside time to clear your space, quiet your room and indulge in a long, luxurious soak.

Connect with Others. Isolation can intensify stress with feelings of loneliness. Even in times of lockdown, stay connected with friends and family through telephone calls, video chats and old-fashioned snail mail. Feeling supported lessens the burdens of life.

Embrace Hobbies. Whether your passion is music. literature, gaming or athletics, find something that genuinely brings you joy and do it whenever you need a break from the daily grind.

Return to Nature. Green spaces are good for us. Whether you pack a picnic in your own backyard or take a long walk on a public trail, find time to revisit nature. Listen to the sounds of wildlife, see your reflection in water and breathe in the purest of air.

Enroll in a Study. Researchers are often conducting clinical trials that relate to treating stress. You can find out if there are any studies of interest accepting new participants at clinicaltrials.gov.

Take Medication. In some cases, a doctor may prescribe a medicine or vitamin supplement to ease the effects of stress. Be sure to speak to your healthcare provider before taking any drugs to cope with stress.

Consult a Medical Professional

All Western Washington Medical Group Primary Care locations are available to assist with stress management. Schedule your appointment today with the Family Practice team at the location most convenient for you, or for more general inquiries, complete the form on this page. We look forward to working with you.