Your Body Will Thank You When You Stress Less

By: Cheryl Maguire

“Reality is the leading cause of stress among those in touch with it.”– Lily Tomlin

We’ve all been there. You are running late for a meeting and stuck in traffic with no hope of moving anytime soon. Your head begins to throb, and your stomach feels like you did a thousand sit ups (I wish!). Or, for those parents out there, your kid decides to have a full blown melt down in the middle of aisle 3 because you didn’t want to buy that bag of candy, and now your heart is beating so fast you feel like it might explode.

The good news is that once you get out of this stressful situation your body recovers quickly, saying so long to that head and stomach pain. But long-term stress is another story that can take a toll on your body.

I’m going to get a little technical here, so bear with me. I promise to clarify how stress impacts your physical health without causing your eyes to glaze over too much, or at least not as much as your eight-grade science teacher did.

Okay, here it goes. Your nervous system is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and a whole bunch of other nerves throughout your body. Then you have the autonomic nervous system like your heart, smooth muscles, and the glands within the endocrine system. 

I’m sure you’ve heard of the “fight or flight response” — probably a million times, right? Well, that is thanks to your autonomic nervous system responding to stress. In fact, next time your boss is yelling at you to hurry up with handing in that assignment, you can thank your autonomic nervous system for either wanting to punch him in the face or wanting to scream “I quit.”

So, how does all this constant stress effect your body? The list is really, really, really long. Hopefully, it will make you want to figure out how to remove all that stress, because who wants to have any of these awful conditions? Definitely not me. Here goes—I warned you:

Increased heart rate

Hypertension

Heart attack

Stroke

Chronic fatigue

Metabolic disorder

Depression

Immune disorders

Headaches

Migraines

Memory loss

Irritability

Sleep disorders

Difficulty concentrating

Pain conditions

Mood disorders

Neurological disorders

What can you do to avoid delving into this long list of disorders?  This list is pretty short, easy and a whole lot less horrific sounding. You can try:

Eating healthy foods

Sleeping 7-8 hours per night

Getting a massage

Exercising

Meditating

Yoga

Reading

Connecting with friends and family

That wasn’t so bad was it? Now stop stressing and go book yourself a massage at the spa.


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