Living in a time of a global conflict and a lingering pandemic have increased uncertainty, adding to our personal stress—which, in turn, can build up and harm our health in countless ways. Chronic stress elevates cortisol, the so-called stress hormone that influences everything from moods, appetite, and sleep to our immune response and flare-ups of chronic conditions. Renewing your commitment to stress-busting activities may help keep you healthy in the following ways:
Shrink your belly fat. Brisk walking and other fat-burning cardiovascular activities may help counter cortisol’s link to increased accumulated abdominal fat.
Clear up a foggy memory. Taking a mindfulness break to focus on your breath in the present moment throughout the day may help suppress the cortisol output that affects brain neurotransmitters, helping to clear your head.
Calm troubled skin. Getting proper sleep, exercising, and using relaxation techniques could help quell acne breakouts, rashes, and flare-ups of rosacea, eczema and other skin conditions. Elevated cortisol levels raises blood sugar, which can damage the collagen and elastin that plumps the skin and keeps it smooth and healthy.
Soothe achiness and pain. Taking a break with a combination of relaxation and exercise can help break the link between chronic stress and chronic pain. Whether pain is caused by stress affecting the muscles, brain chemicals, or both, this much is clear: stress and pain increase each other and set the stage for chronic pain and chronic stress.
Help ward off catching a cold. Practice stress management regularly. Here’s why: Chronic stress can affect the cells’ ability to regulate the inflammatory response to fight the cold virus early and quickly.
90 percent of primary care doctor visits are stress-related. Take steps to control stress to protect your health.