Stress and Its Damaging Health Effects
When I was thinking about what to write today, I remembered the stats from Pinterest and my website showing which blog/area had the most views.
Hands down it was how stress negatively impacts our health.
So that's what I'll share here but I will also share 3 easy techniques to relieve stress that promote health and wellness.
You see, we have a real problem today with unresolved/chronic stress and how it’s impacting our health, our family’s health, and those we care about.
Let me ask you this …
Do any of the following apply to you?
Have difficulty saying 'no' and feel resentment for saying 'yes'?
Have emotional wounds from the past that affect your life today?
A racing heart?
High blood pressure, Diabetes 2, and/or high cholesterol?
The above is actually a shortlist of all the things unresolved/ chronic stress can cause.
If you answered yes to any of the above, are your overwhelmed- not knowing where to start taking your life and health back from stress?
I know I was and my clients were too.
So why am I here talking to you about stress? Because, I’m a textbook example of the negative side effects of stress.
Mine is a beautiful story of victim to victorious and tragedy to triumph ... things like that.
Go here to read more.
Back to today's topic...
The quote below is from the article “Stress. It’s Worse Than You Think" from Psychology Today.
“By responding to the stress of everyday life with the SAME surge of biochemicals released during major threats, the body is slowly killing itself. The biochemical onslaught chips away at the IMMUNE SYSTEM, opening the way to CANCER, infection, and DISEASE. Hormones unleashed by stress eat at the digestive tract and lungs, promoting ulcers and asthma. Or they may weaken the heart, leading to strokes and heart disease. "Chronic stress is like a slow poison."
"Chronic stress is like a slow poison." < that's powerful isn't it?
The good news is you can stop and even reverse the damaging effects of stress- on your mind, your body and even with your emotions.
You don’t have to change everything all at once. I love this quote about making changes…. Slow and steady wins the race. Try learning at least one of the techniques I'll share below.
Use it whenever something stressful happens. Then at your own pace, add in some of the other techniques we’ll cover.
For now, let’s keep going.
The stress response is a protective mechanism. However, when the stress response does not turn off, negative effects can impact overall health.
Mental health problems-such as depression, anxiety, and personality disorders
Cardiovascular disease- including heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks, and stroke
Obesity and other eating disorders
Skin and hair problems- such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema, and permanent hair loss
Digestive problems- such as GERD, gastritis, ulcerative colitis, and irritable colon
And that's not all. There are even links to reproductive issues and chronic stress. Learn more here.
Unfortunately, I could write a ton more about how stress negatively affects our health. But you might not have the time. And I'm polishing my webinar that goes deeper into the subject, so I'll keep this post short.
For now, let's switch gears and focus on something positive.
What we CAN do about stress.
SIMPLE RELIEVING TECHNIQUES
The are so many techniques that we could cover. But for the sake of time- I’ll pick three.
-Sleep Promoting Habits
You may be asking- what does breathing and sleep have to do with one another?
And what do they have to do with relieving stress and stopping the damage health effects?
Let me share a brief story that might help to answer that.
Years ago when I realized that stress was a major factor in my health issues, I used to think there was some elusive magical formula for handling stress. The more I researched, the more I came up with simple things I could do- like take a walk, eat more veggies, have fun, breath deeper.
But I ignored those because those were too simple. I had major stress! I needed something with muscle to knock out my level of stress.
But the more I researched and the more I studied, the more I realized- it really is the simple things- done consistently over time that would… in fact, allow me to stress less and reverse the negative side effects of stress on my mental, emotional, and physical health.
We can take small steps to improve these areas- one at a time.
Many small actions- taken over time- produce big results.
DEEP BREATHING TECHNIQUE
One of the fastest ways of diffusing a negative emotional response to stress is to just breath.
Breathing is an automatic process. However, most of us rarely use our full lung capacity. When was the last time you took a purposeful deep breath?
Taking long deep controlled breaths resets the brain and triggers the relaxation response.
Deep breathing for a count of 5 or more allows us time to think. Time to think about what response should be given to the situation. Or time to talk ourselves out of making a bad choice. AND Time to calm our mind.
When a stressful event occurs, our bodies undergo numerous chemical and automatic responses. Our adrenals get us ready for ‘fight or flight.’ Our heart rate and blood pressure increase. Our muscles tense.
Deep breathing activates our body’s “Relaxation Response.” The “Relaxation Response” works to ‘turn off’ the fight or flight mode. Our heart rate and blood pressure decrease. Our mind can focus clearer.
There are many different breathing techniques. The beauty of controlled breathing is it can be done anywhere!
Practice this daily and use it the next time something stressful happens.
The one we’re going to do now is called equal breathing.
Equal Breathing This controlled technique involves equal lengths for both inhales and exhales. To start, try counting to 5 on each inhalation and exhalation. As you breath deeper you may be able to work your way to a count of 6 or even 8. Take several equal breaths and feel the relaxation throughout your entire body.
Next let’s look at Movement
Movement or exercise for even just 10 minutes at a time can help relieve pent up stress!
Working out doesn’t have to be something you dread. There are tons of options out there.
Any movement will help to relieve stress. Walking, Cycling, Pilates, yoga, old school Step Aerobics, Stretching, etc. Find what works for you and do it- often.
Not only will exercise help stop your stress in its tracks, it can help keep stress levels low the next time you encounter a stressful situation.
Seven out of 10 adults in the United States say they experience stress or anxiety daily, and most say it interferes at least moderately with their lives.
-from this article from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America
By the way, exercise or movement is the most recommended stress reduction method by health care professionals.
Exercise and other physical activity boost chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers called endorphins which improve the ability to sleep and reduces stress and anxiety.
Try different forms of exercise and find the ones you like and enjoy best keeping aware of your abilities.
Don’t push yourself beyond what your body says you can do. Be gentle and supportive of where you are and do what you can. We all have to start somewhere.
Also, please be kind to yourself if you think you don’t measure up to others around you. Don’t fall victim to comparing yourself to what the yoga instructor can do, or how many miles your co-worker or sister can walk. Focus on you. This is for your benefit.
Now let’s move onto Sleep.
SLEEP (Restful & Restorative)
Restorative sleep is so important to our health- both mentally and physically. While we’re asleep, our bodies are busy cleaning and repairing, actively trying to regulate our hormones, storing memories and dealing with emotions.
There is a huge difference between restful-restorative sleep and trying to “get some” sleep where dreams are turbulent, one has trouble going to sleep, staying asleep, and one wakes up numerous times throughout the night.
It really does matter what we do right before we go to sleep.
That’s why it’s so very important to establish a bedtime routine. This allows our bodies to be able to perform the functions needed at regular times in a 24-hour cycle. Pick a bedtime that works for you.
About an hour before lying down for sleep, start your routine.
Here are a few tips to try tonight.
Going to bed and waking at the same times will get your body into a regular circadian rhythm (24-hour period for performing important bodily processes).
Try going to bed about 8.5 - 9 hours before you need to get up. Most people need anywhere from 7 - 9 hours of sleep. You may need 9 hours if you are run-down and have health issues like Chronic Fatigue. Find what works for you and adjust the length, as you need.
Before going to bed… make out your ‘To Do’ list for the next day. This is a great way to take the burden of the things you need to do and address them by putting them on your To Do list. By putting everything on your To Do list, you won’t have to dwell on it once you lie down.
We’ve covered 3 areas that - if you’ll give attention to, make a few tweaks and changes to, you’ll be able to handle stress more calmly and with confidence.
Do you see how it’s all connected.
By choosing HEALTHY FOODS (< click on link to learn more), practicing stress relieving techniques, and taking steps to get a restful night's sleep- these healthy habits work together to reduce the intensity of anxiety and stress the next time it strikes.
Now, I wouldn’t be the powerful coach that I am if I didn’t ask you to take action, so here’s what I’d love for you to do right now. Think about one of these action steps that you would like to take today. Don’t just let this be another article, seminar or workshop that you read or watch that you don’t do anything with.
Remember how I was, I thought that there was this elusive powerful way to handle stress that I just couldn’t find or grasp - but in reality it was as simple as … eating healthier, deep breathing, moving/exercise, and a bonus tip- is to look for the positives or what’s right in our lives- and to not focus on the negative or what's wrong in our lives.
So take a deep breath, focusing your attention here and now and decide…
-What’s the one thing you’ll do from today's article?
-Will you take time to get really clear on the things you can change that have been hindering you and causing you to stay in a state of stress?
-Will you try one or more of the action steps that really resonated with you today?
To help you get started, grab my Stress Less SOS Action Guide for only $9.98!
When I was learning what to do so I could restore my health- my brain fog (fuzzy thinking) was so bad I had to write everything down. This action guide actually started out as my workbook for what to do.
In it, I teach 14 simple and effective techniques that are foundational for taking your life back from stress. Lessons like 'how to set boundaries', simple time management tips, 'how to forgive', Restorative Self-Care, and more. You can see each lesson listed here.
I've even included two bonus checklists to help you remember what to do.
Carpe Diem (make the most of the present time)
Here are some steps you can do -- right now.
Use the deep breathing technique above
Get the Stress Less SOS Action Guide
Here’s to your health!
FREE- 7 Simple Steps to Stress Less ebooklet
Stress Less SOS Action Guide- only $9.98
The information shared here is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as the sharing of information only. Legal Policies
Missy Rankin, CTNC, CHS
Certified Transformation Coach,