Reducing stress levels in your life can improve both your health and the health of your relationship. Anxiety and pressure are so common that we tend to trivialize their impact.
The truth is that stress has a significant impact on our overall health and well-being and can lead to heart disease/stroke, alcohol/drug abuse and immune deficiency, plus negative consequences for our loved one if we take our stress out on that person. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
With some efforts it's possible to embrace the concept of reducing stress levels. The physiological effects of stress have been hardwired into us through the process of evolution.
Situations that threaten or challenge us lead to the “fight-or-flight” response, which causes our adrenal glands to release cortisol into the blood stream.
In small doses, stress can be healthy and motivating. Think about the rush you get before delivering a presentation or competing in a game. If the stress doesn’t subside, though, your body gets excessive amounts of cortisol. In a state of prolonged or chronic stress your body will also go into survival mode, tapping into your food and energy stores and depleting them before they can be replenished.
Physical effects of stress
Physical effects of stress—ranging from overeating and excessive alcohol consumption to the increased risk of heart disease and Type II diabetes—can be traced to these physiological responses. Other physical effects of stress include tension, anxiety, headaches, stomach aches, over- or under-eating and immune system suppression.
Mental health risks associated with stress
Excessive, prolonged exposure to cortisol can lead to mental health problems like depression or anxiety. Those are things that will surely impact your relationship and encourage you to get started reducing stress levels in your life. In addition to the profound physical effects of these disorders, you need to be concerned about other factors:
Cardiovascular risks associated with stress
Scientific studies have consistently found that people leading stressful lives are at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Hypertension, high cholesterol, cardiac arrest—all can be attributed to stress (although genetic factors also play a role). Stress can even increase the rate at which your blood platelets will clot.
Fighting the effects
Fortunately, we’ve learned that effective stress management by reducing stress levels can reduce the impact. In some cases, it can even counteract the effects. Studies have found, for example, that laughter can help restore immune function. Explore “stress busting” strategies that work for you, including:
Teach your techniques to people you love, especially your children. You can help ensure they live long and healthy lives. Reducing stress levels not only benefits your relationship, but also everyone around you.
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