We all experience stress; it’s becoming a normal part of our everyday lives. From bosses breathing down our neck, to wanting to get work submitted as soon as possible, work can be a huge factor in stress. Family, by their very nature, is often a stress inducer as well. Fortunately, with stress levels in our lives increasing, the ways to combat stress are increasing to match. But without making use of stress reduction, you can actually be putting your health at risk.
What Stress Does to You
Stress is by its very nature a strain on you, it’s why it’s called ‘stress’ in the first place. It often comes from trying hard to get things right, or from the demands of everyday life. When you experience stress, glands in your body begin to produce higher amounts of endorphins, a natural drug that increases our physical abilities. Think, for instance, about the last time you moved. Moves are generally stressful events, but you likely thought nothing about lifting up half a couch. Yet, a few weeks after you move in and stress levels have come down, you are struck by how much just a gallon of milk weighs.
Obviously the couch weighs more than the milk, but comparing those two instances in your mind, you might for a moment think that it’s the other way around. This is because the endorphins you had pumping through your body from the stress of moving and exercise caused you muscles to be able to mask the strain that usually comes with lifting heavy objects, allowing you to lift more with less of a feeling that you are.
What Prolonged Stress can do to you
Prolonged exposure to stress without any relief can cause several medical issues. For one, the increased amount of endorphins in your system coupled with an increased blood pressure can lead to a higher chance of heart attack and other heart problems. The fact that some stressful situations leads to poor diet doesn’t help this fact either, and as a result your cholesterol may increase.
Stress also can send your internal chemical balance out of whack, causing things like wrinkles to appear on your face, and even cause the enamel on your teeth to wear away faster increasing the likelihood of tooth aches and tooth rot.
Finally, stress sending chemicals into your brain can, in some cases, contribute to mental health problems. These problems include addiction, and even bi-polar tendencies, though few studies have been able to prove or disprove this, it’s something to keep in mind.
Unlike most medical problems, treating stress can be a very enjoyable experience. Going on a vacation, especially one where you don’t have to do the planning, can be a great stress relief. Even a staycation, where instead of going away you simply stay at home and disconnect from the world for a bit can have a rebooting effect on you and lower stress levels.
Some people also enjoy going to the spa as a stress reliever. Yahoo! Voices has many articles on great day spas, use the search field above to search for some in your area. These day spas offer a way for you to feel pampered and relaxed, and all of that can be done to great success usually in just a single day.
Indiana State University
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
American Psychological Association