As if our lives aren’t stressful enough, April hands us another event to recognize: National Stress Awareness Month! In researching the topic of stress, I learned that some types of stress are actually good for you, while others can lead to serious health concerns.
When you are in a stressful situation, your nervous system springs into action. Your body releases hormones that prepare you for “fight or flight.” Your breathing and heart rate increase. This type of short-term, temporary stress is called acute stress, and it can help keep you safe. Your body typically recovers quickly from acute stress, especially when you remove yourself from the cause of the stress.
But if your body’s stress response remains activated over a long period of time, the constant rush of stress hormones can put serious wear and tear on your body. When that happens, you may encounter chronic stress—and that can lead to more serious health problems.
Joseph Goldberg, MD, reviewed scholarly research on stress for WebMD. He found that when chronic stress is not properly addressed, it can lead to more serious health conditions, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia)
- Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
- Heart disease or heart attack
- Digestive disorders
- Weight gain or loss
- Changes in sex drive
- Fertility problems
- Flare-ups of asthma or arthritis
- Skin problems such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis
Managing stress can improve your health. For example, one study in Dr. Goldberg’s review showed that women with heart disease lived longer if they completed a stress management program.
If you are encountering too much stress in your life, there are simple steps you can take to help. To find out more, call 844-CHD-HELP or fill out this form and we’ll reach out to you to ask, “how are you?” We’d really like to know.