We all have some level of stress, right? It may be temporary (acute), or long-term (chronic).
Acute stress usually won’t mess with your health too much. It’s the body’s natural reaction to circumstances and can even be life-saving. When the “stressor” is gone, the reaction subsides, and all is well.
Chronic stress is the type that creates more problems – our body has specific stress reactions and if triggered continually, can impact health over time, especially during perimenopause and menopause.
Let’s dive into the “stress mess.”
1 – Increased risk of heart disease and diabetes
Stress increases the risk for heart disease and diabetes (both serious, chronic conditions)
by promoting chronic inflammation as well as by affecting blood “thickness” and the cell’s response to insulin.
2 – Immunity
Have you noticed that you get sick more often when you’re stressed? Maybe you get colds, cold sores, or even the flu more frequently. Stress hormones affect the chemical messengers (cytokines) secreted by immune cells, and consequently are less able to do their jobs effectively.
3 – “Leaky Gut.”
The stress hormone cortisol loosens the grip digestive cells have to each other, and open tiny holes in the intestinal wall. This condition is called “leaky gut,” otherwise known as intestinal permeability. These “leaks” allow partially digested food or bacteria to be absorbed into the body, triggering autoimmune responses in the body (inflammation, arthritis).
4 – Sleep Disruption
Stress and sleep go hand-in-hand, wouldn’t you agree? It’s difficult to sleep when important (and stressful) things rent space in your head.
Energy level, memory, ability to think, and mood are impacted by lack of sleep.
Best tips to keep stress to a minimum:
- Put less pressure on yourself
- Ask for help
- Say “no”
- Delegate chores or activities
- Make decisions. Don’t procrastinate.
Life = stress. But you can lessen its impact by doing the following:
- Deep breathing
- Walk in nature – cognitive performance improves in nature
- Unplug (read a book, take a bath)
- Exercise (yoga, tai chi, etc.)
- Connect with loved ones
- Indulge – a well-deserved massage can work wonders
5 – Conclusion
Stress is a huge and often underestimated factor impacting optimal health. Over time, it shows up as increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, impaired immune response, digestion and sleep.
Ditch the stress mess with awareness and mindful behaviors.
Click here to see my relaxing Chamomile Peach Iced Tea.