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stress factors

7 Ways That Stress Can Harm Your Body

Stress is the body’s natural reaction to any form of change that needs a response or adjustment. Our bodies react to such changes with emotional, mental and physical responses.

Stress is a normal factor in life and everybody experiences it at some point in their lives. Many of the events happening to you and around you cause your body to feel stress. Stress can stem from your body, the environment and your thoughts. Here are seven ways in which stress can have a negative impact on your body, and how to stop it from happening.

1. Stress is linked to heart problems

Researchers are still unsure about the exact link between heart attack and stress, but there is a lot of evidence to suggest that one does exist. It has been found that those who consider their job stressful and have barely any decision-making power in the workplace are 23 percent more prone to having a heart attack than those with less stress related to their job. The best way to avoid stress-related problems is to focus on reducing the stress in your life and live a healthier lifestyle. Stress-reduction techniques such as yoga, tai chi and meditation can help to lower stress levels, as well as spending time with loved ones and being more optimistic. Letting go of grudges and bad feelings towards others is also said to lower levels of stress and protect the heart.

2. Stress can affect your sleep

Stress can create a biological state called hyperarousal, which prevents you from feeling sleepy when it’s time to go to bed. This in turn can lead to insomnia. It’s not only major stressful situations that can lead to insomnia; your sleep can also be disrupted by long-term chronic stress. The best way to stop this from happening is to make your sleep surroundings conductive to a peaceful night’s sleep. Avoid watching television, using your smartphone or logging onto your laptop before going to bed, as lit screens are stimulating and can make you feel more awake when you’re supposed to be tired. Practicing yoga in the daytime will help you to feel calmer and less stressed, and the exercise will help you to feel tired when bedtime comes.

3. Stress causes headaches

When you feel stressed, your body releases fight or flight chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol. These chemicals can lead to vascular changes that cause migraines or tension headaches. Stress also causes the muscles to tense, and this can make the headache even worse. As well as taking painkillers to get rid of the headache, you should take regular exercise and meditation to calm the mind, and make sure you drink lots of water to stay hydrated throughout the day.

4. Stress can make you grind your teeth

Most cases of tooth grinding, clinically known as bruxism, occur subconsciously during sleep. It is most commonly linked with stress and anxiety. Bruxism can also take place when you’re awake, but this is most likely to be clenching the jaw rather than grinding the teeth, and tends to happen when we find ourselves in stressful situations. Dentists, such as those at The Frederick Dental Clinic, can provide mouth guards to help with tooth grinding during the night, and you can also try muscle relaxation therapies to help to manage symptoms.

5. Stress can cause memory problems

The stress hormone cortisol can impede the brain’s capability of forming new memories. During periods of acute stress, cortisol also hinders neurotransmitters (the chemicals that enable brain cells to communicate together). This interference makes it difficult to retrieve memories or think straight. Many experts recommend meditation as a method for reducing stress and unblocking the mind.

6. Stress harms the digestive system

Conditions such as heartburn, diarrhoea and stomach cramps can be caused by or made worse by stress. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is also a common side-effect of stress. If these symptoms are not relieved by stress-reducing techniques such as exercise or deep breathing, you should visit your doctor to see what can be done.

7. Stress can raise blood pressure

Your blood pressure can temporarily be raised by stress, as it constricts your blood vessels and speeds up your heart rate. However, these effects tend to disappear after the stressful event has passed. Mindfulness techniques and meditation can help to reduce stress levels, and you can reduce your blood pressure by exercising regularly and making positive changes to your diet.

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