The American Psychological Association (APA) has been tracking levels of chronic stress in the country over the years. Their findings indicate that each year more and more Americans are realizing that stress is significantly affecting their physical and mental well-being. Various factors contribute to the high levels including personal health issues that affect around 51% of the people surveyed and family commitments that add to the anxiety of 54% of the people. Check out the graph below that tracks the responses given by men and women about the intensity of stress in their lives.
In addition to affecting the lives of adults, anxiety also seems to affect the lives of kids growing up in stress-filled households. Kids are increasingly dealing with issues of obesity, falling grades, excessive interest in gaming, and lack of self esteem. Health issues like diabetes and hypertension also seem to appear among younger kids in homes where the parents are constantly fighting.
Research conducted by the APA revealed yet another startling fact. A large number of Americans are fully aware of what chronic stress is doing to their lives and that they aren’t doing enough to help themselves.
You Can Reverse the Effects of Chronic Stress
By admitting you need to take action to reverse the anxiety and regain control of your life, you can take the first proactive steps to restore good health in your life. Stress can affect your mind and body in many different ways and having identified the root cause, you can set about eliminating the effects. Here’s how:
Stress Can Affect Brain Function
The stress hormone, cortisol was designed by nature to help you when you needed to escape a life-threatening danger. However, excess levels of cortisol can have the exact opposite reaction resulting in lack of concentration and inefficient reflexes. You might also have poor memory because of the shrinking the hippocampus of the brain by 8%. Interestingly, since the hippocampus is responsible for controlling levels of cortisol in the body, its ineffectiveness results in a vicious cycle that is hard to break. Doctors also warn of serious damage to brain cells that can lead to diseases like Alzheimer’s as you age.
The Solution – Make a conscious effort to counter the effects of cortisol by using whatever relaxation methods work for you including meditation, deep breathing, and exercise like yoga and tai chi. Eliminate all stressful situations in your life including the negativity brought in by certain friends and family members and perhaps, colleagues.
Stress Can Cause Hormone Imbalances
Chronic stress can cause hormone imbalances that in turn lead to loss of libido in both men and women in addition to various other health problems. Men may experience erectile dysfunction while women may have irregular menstruation and even, premature menopause. In extreme cases, stress can lead to fertility issues and miscarriages.
The Solution – To correct this problem, consider opting for bio-identical hormone replacement therapy. You’ll receive supplements that are carefully designed to match the specific disparities so you can restore good health.
Stress Can Cause Heart Disease and Hypertension
Stress causes your heart to beat faster and exert more pressure to force blood through the arteries. Anxiety leads to the constricting of the blood vessels and thickening of the blood. This is nature’s way of protecting your body from excessive blood loss should you incur an injury in the dangerous situation you’re encountering. Hypertension, stroke, and hardening of your arteries are other effects of chronic stress you need to watch out for.
The Solution – Check with your cardiologist for any medication you absolutely need to protect your heart. In addition, pay careful attention to your diet and choose healthy cooking oils that lower cholesterol levels. Include more of fruits and vegetables in your diet and adopt a regular exercise regimen that can boost blood circulation and strengthen the heart.
Stress Can Make You Look Older Sooner
Constricting of the blood vessels can lead to premature signs of aging. That’s because your hair and skin receive a lower amount of blood supply. Because of the lack of nutrients and fresh oxygen, you might start to notice the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Here’s another factor. A good blood flow not only nourishes the skin and hair, it also works to carry away the toxins that build up because of environmental elements. Hair loss, thinning volume, and dull texture are all results of inadequate nourishment to the scalp as a fallout of chronic stress.
The Solution – Nourish your skin with a healthy diet and exercise. You can also protect it from damage from the free radicals in the atmosphere with adequate sun protection. As for hair loss, the experts at the BHRC hair restoration services center recommend the LTS Red/Green procedure that can restore blood flow to the scalp to nourish it and restore the health of your hair.
Stress Can Cause Digestive Distress and Weight Gain
Chronic stress can lead to several digestive issues such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea, flatulence, cramping and bloating. Consistent digestive problems eventually lead to ulcers and inflammation in the intestines. Cortisol creates cravings for excessive sugary and salty foods and simple carbohydrates. The belly fat you seem to accumulate can also be a result of high levels of cortisol in your body.
The Solution – Choose a light diet plan that has more of complex carbohydrates and foods loaded with vitamins and minerals like fresh farm produce. Eliminate processed and preserved foods and make a conscious effort to eat a diet that nourishes your body so you can keep away digestive issues and obesity.
Prevention is Better than Cure
While you can take the necessary steps to reverse the effects of chronic stress on your mind and body, side by side, you need to identify the causes of anxiety in your life and work on getting rid of them. Get counseling if you need it and welcome help from friends and family for the care of kids and other household responsibilities. Make changes at work or change your job to a less stressful one. Work out the issues in your personal life and bring back peace and satisfaction.
It’s time to turn your life around!!