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Can Stress Make You Sick?

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More than ever, Americans are experiencing high rates of stress. Many are leading lives that don’t switch off. There is always something to do and get done, and people are pushing themselves to the limit where they are making themselves sick or worsening already occurring health problems.

What is stress?

Stress is your body’s response to any kind of demand or threat. Sometimes stress can be helpful. It can motivate you to get your tasks done or help you avoid danger. However, stress can also be overwhelming and can cause some serious health problems if it is not controlled. People that frequently experience stress or have prolonged periods of stress increase their risk of developing:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Fever
  • The common cold
  • Stomach Issues
  • Skin problems like acne and eczema
  • Reproductive issues

What can you do to minimize your daily stress levels?

Learning how to manage your stress can help prevent sickness and advanced health problems. The first step of managing stress is knowing the symptoms. Some common signs of stress are:

  • Migraines or headaches
  • Lack of energy or focus
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Upset stomach
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Aches and pains
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Nervous habits like pacing or nail biting
  • Use of alcohol or drugs to relax

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, there are a few tactics you can try at home to reduce your stress. Try these activities to help reduce your stress:

  • Get regular physical activity. Try getting active for 30 minutes every day to clear your head and lift your mood. Activities like running, walking, swimming and dancing are particularly great because they are rhythmic.
  • Practice relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing to activate the body’s relaxation response. These activities can boost feelings of joy and can increase your ability to stay calm under pressure.
  • Incorporate healthy foods into your diet. Refined sugars and carbohydrates found in processed food can worsen your stress. Stick to whole foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, and high-quality proteins to help improve your stress levels.
  • Try connecting with family or friends. Talking and spending time with someone you trust helps improve your mood, can help calm you, and sooth your nervous system.
  • Get enough sleep. Aim for eight hours of sleep each night. It is not always possible, but when you are well rested, your mood and productivity levels will improve.
  • Make time for yourself. Participate in your favorite hobbies to get your mind off work or other stressful factors that are occurring in your life.
  • Try to avoid mindless internet or phone scrolling. While it may seem relaxing to do nothing, it can increase your levels of stress.

The final step is recognizing when you need to seek help. If you are unable to control your stress levels on your own, you should seek the medical advice of your healthcare professional. They can provide you with advanced tactics to help reduce your stress and improve your quality of life.

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