I stumbled upon an infographic by The American Institute of Stress stating that almost half of all Americans feel more stressed now as compared to 5 years ago, and 75% of doctor’s visits are due to stress-related ailments. This is not unique to The United States. It is a far reaching global phenomenon. I was intrigued and decided to learn more about how to detect the early signs of stress and how to counteract them.
External Signs of Stress
Those affected by stress tend to look and feel tired and worn down. Under eye puffiness can become more pronounced, skin tone can look dull and become more susceptible to breakouts, hair can begin to thin and the scalp to flake. Though this can be remedied, to an extent, with personal care products, the reality is that you’re stressed and steps must be taken to protect your body inside and out.
The Invisible Effects of Stress
What’s really troubling is that stress has worse effects, which are invisible. When your stress levels are consistently high, there are consequences that can be disturbing, and even life threatening if left unchecked. Hence, it’s important to unwind, laugh, spend time with friends and learn to manage stressful situations.
Effects of Stress on The Body
Stress has effects on all systems of the human body, for instance, studies have shown a direct correlation between chronic muscle pain and musculoskeletal disorders in people who experience chronic stress.
The respiratory system may also be affected, making breathing somewhat more difficult. This becomes especially problematic for people that suffer from asthma as well as those who are prone to panic attacks.
Chronic stress is also widely linked to heart ailments. Stress contributes to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and even inflammation in the circulatory system, affecting vital blood pathways in the body such as the coronary arteries.
The liver and adrenal glands are another set of organs affected by stress. Elevated stress levels lead to the release of ‘stress hormones’, which result in the production of more glucose. An increase in glucose production means higher blood sugar, which puts individuals at greater risk for diabetes.
A blog post by Aboca highlights the effect of stress on the digestive system, describing how stress can interfere with the entire digestive process and result in gastrointestinal disorders like IBS and constipation.
Stress Compromises The Immune System
The immune system suffers as well from high stress levels. As explained by Executive Medicine, the natural defense of the body is compromised by stress, which makes individuals more susceptible to viral illnesses like flu.
In short, constant stress has serious impacts on every aspect of the body. Here are some remedies to help overcome and counter stress.
How To Minimize Stress
Exercise is proven to promote wellbeing including stress reduction mentally and physically. Activities like yoga, strength training, jogging and walking can all keep stress in check.
Playing mindless video games for approximately 30 minutes a day aids in stress management. Believe it or not, games like the popular cut and slash Fruit Ninja is an excellent stress reliever. Then there’s classic games such as Slingo which has received positive feedback because of its relaxing attributes. And who could forget the multi-awarded Plants vs. Zombies? These games can effectively help lower overall stress levels.
Getting enough shut eye is perhaps the most important part of the equation. Sleep deprivation is correlated with increased stress levels; therefore, getting the right amount of rest is vital.
While stress can adversely affect our outward appearance, it has more detrimental effects on the internal organs and activities of the body and can lead to serious complications.