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SPORTS MEDICINE · PHYSICAL THERAPY · PHYSIATRY

The Effects of Stress on Health

how to effectively manage stressHow can stress affect your health?

Stress is a way of life and while some may handle it better than others, it can affect all of our bodies equally. Perhaps you’re stressed about an upcoming deadline at work? Or you’re worried about how you’re going to pay all your bills. Whether it is stemmed from work, finances, family, or things that may be happening in your day-to-day, it can have both a mental and physical toll on your body with implications you may not even be aware of. Below, we outline six ways stress affects your body.

  • Stress can physically take a toll on your body. The physical implications of stress are numerous. When you’re stressed, hormones like cortisol are released into your body, which can raise the levels of your blood pressure and blood sugar. You may also grind your teeth as well; this can have an adverse effect on your jaw in the long run. Stress can be a factor in developing Tempromandibular Disorder, or DMD, which causes pain by affecting the jaw joints, nerves, and muscles.
  • How can stress affect your health? – It can contribute to weight gain. When you’re stressed, your body releases cortisol, which can increase hunger levels. Due to this, stressful times can call for binge eating. It’s funny how that slice of chocolate cake or gallon of ice cream looks so much more appealing when you’re stressed, right? While we all may be looking for an excuse to have a second helping of dessert or a bag of chips while we watch TV, these foods are not good for your health or waistline. We all become emotional eaters from time-to-time, as it is a common coping mechanism for stress, but imagine the impact it would have on your body if we reached for healthier eats during these times.

On the flip side, opt for different comfort foods such as nuts, berries, or even dark chocolate. Sipping on chamomile tea can help you de-stress too. Instead of reacting to stress by binge- eating on junk food, train your brain to indulge in fruits and clean eats.

  • It can cause headaches. Thinking about the things that are causing you stress can hurt your head – literally. It can be a catch twenty-two because headaches cause more stress and the more stressed you are, the more headaches you will get. Stress can cause your muscles in your neck and shoulder to tense up, which can contribute to tension headaches.
  • How can stress affect your health? – It can leave you more sick, more often. Does it seem like every time you’re stressed, you get a cold? Stress can affect your immune system by reducing its ability to fight off antigens, making you more susceptible to getting sick. Chronic stress can compromise the immune system over time, reducing your body’s natural ability to fight off illness and infection.
  • Stress can cause back pain. When you tense up due to stress, your muscles in your back can be affected. Additionally, the hormones released when you’re stressed can constrict the blood vessels and restrict blood flow, which affects your muscles, tendons, and nerves; this can lead to muscle spasms and tension in your back.
  • How can stress affect your health? – It can interfere with a good night’s rest. Got bags under your eyes? Stress can keep you up at night and prevent you from getting a full or good night’s rest; in fact, it is the biggest contributor to insomnia. It may be hard to not think about what’s ailing you when you’re trying to get some shut eye but if you reverse your way of thinking by thinking all happy thoughts, you may feel more at ease and fall asleep faster. Relieve your insomnia and stress by winding down a half hour before bed – this means turning off the TV, putting away the cell phone (the light can keep you up anyways), and turning to zen-like activities like reading a book.

You are invited to our physical therapy, pain and stress management clinic in Manhattan, New York 10036.

While stress may be unavoidable and we all have to cope with it one way or another, remember that too much stress can negatively affect your body. So when you are feeling stressed out, little actions like taking a hot bath, putting away your phone, and creating your own zen-zone will help in the long run.

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