Health Advocate Blog

The whole-body effects of stress relief

Taking time each day to do simple activities that calm your body and mind is a powerful way to short-circuit stress, restore a sense of well-being, and protect your health! It’s vital to know how your body indicates that you’re stressed, and equally important to take measures to manage stress no matter how it shows up. When stress is ongoing, improperly managed, or uncontrolled, it can negatively affect your physical and mental health. Here are just a few ways that renewing your commitment to stress-busting activities may help keep you healthy:

Help ward off catching colds and viruses. Practice stress management regularly. Chronic stress can affect the body’s ability to regulate the inflammatory response to fight the cold virus early and quickly. Bolster it by getting sound sleep, drinking plenty of water and eating nutrient-dense foods.

Clear up a foggy memory. Taking short, frequent breaks for stress relief throughout the day may help suppress the cortisol output that affects brain neurotransmitters, helping to clear your head. Soothe yourself with deep-breathing exercises, walking and other enjoyable physical activities.

Get better sleep. Track troubling thoughts in a worry journal, try a relaxing wind-down routine that includes focusing on pleasant thoughts to usher you into deep slumber, or read to escape to a whole new world. Excessive worrying prior to bedtime can boost adrenaline levels, keeping you tossing and turning.

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 stress-related achiness and pain. Taking a break with a combination of relaxation and exercise can help break the link between chronic stress and chronic pain. Stress prompts the output of adrenaline, which triggers ongoing tension, making your head, neck, or even your legs and other muscles rigid and sore. Manage it by getting up to stretch or walk periodically.

Better manage your weight. Brisk walking and cardiovascular activities may help counter stress’ link to weight fluctuations. Additionally, by controlling your stress in healthier ways, you may find yourself reaching for your comfort foods less often.

Avoid unnecessary trips to your doctor. 90 percent of primary care doctor visits are stress-related. Take steps to control stress to protect your health. Again, stick to nutritious eating, exercise, and try meditation, which may help regulate the stress hormones with positive effects for your overall health and well-being!

If you find yourself in a continual funk, take more active measures. Talking it out with someone close to you, writing in a journal, listening to soothing music, joining a support group and carving out time to attend to your own needs, hobbies and relaxation when you’re feeling overwhelmed are all ways to help yourself and feel better balanced. Or, seek help from a professional counselor.