We all have stress. Some of it is good stress – like planning a wedding, taking care of the kids, or transitioning into a new job; and some of it is negative stress – like caring for a sick family member, dealing with financial issues, and working a demanding job. Either way, the stress of life’s circumstances can have a significant impact on your health.
Here are some of the ways stress can impact your body and your health:
- Poor sleep or lack of sleep: When your brain is overloaded, it can be hard to quiet the thoughts and fall asleep. Even when you do get to sleep, those thoughts can wake you and interrupt a good nights sleep. In addition, a busy schedule may make it challenging to get the recommended 7–8 hours of sleep per night.
- Unhealthy food choices: People who are under pressure often turn to food for comfort. This emotional eating often results in overeating and indulging in fatty and salty foods, even when you are not hungry. Cortisol, a stress hormone, increases in your body during times of stress. This hormone not only causes you to crave those unhealthy food choices, but directs those extra pounds right to your stomach!
- Physical inactivity: This can be the result of a busy schedule, time pressures, and feelings that adding exercise to the “to do” list is just another added stress. In addition, poor sleeping and eating habits can contribute to reducing your motivation to move.
- Other consequences of stress include: irritability, decreased productivity and efficiency at work, and a weakened immune system.
While we often wish we could will our stresses away, stress is a part of life for most of us. The difference is HOW we deal with it. By making life balance a priority and making time for some of the little things, your stress will feel less overwhelming and have less of a negative effect on your health.
Here are some suggestions to try incorporating into your daily/weekly routine:
- Take a walk – even if it’s only 5–10 minutes, but even better if you can do 30–60
- Read a book or magazine
- Take a bath
- Take up an old hobby – knitting, golfing, dancing, etc.
- Practice deep breathing
- Try yoga or meditation
- Start journaling – this is a great way to release some of your feelings
What do you do to balance your stresses?